For some schools, summer break is here already. For those of us in Upstate NY, we have about two and a half more weeks of school left. That’s just enough time to stock up and plan out some activities to keep the kids active and entertained over the extended time off. A blend of physical activity and academic is ideal, but none of it has to seem like a chore. Here are some of the activities that you could try with your kids this summer:
- Have an archaeological dig or scavenger hunt. If you are in an area that has a dirt pile or large sandbox, bury some objects and have the kids dig them out. You could make it a theme, such as antiques or dinosaur, and have them clean up the items they found and create a story about it. Maybe they uncovered a tetradactyl or old glass milk jars from when a time when milkmen delivered milk to your doorstep!
- Prepare a picnic/cookout. Let your kids plan and prepare an afternoon picnic or cookout! They could gather everything they would need, from the blanket to the plates to the food. don’t forget the sunblock! Depending on their age, you could even help them cook the food! This would even work for an evening campfire. Roasting marshmallows and hot dogs! Try the gooey marshmallows on graham crackers or strawberries! YUM!
- Get outside and play a sport. Your child doesn’t have to be a jock to benefit from a little sports activity outside. Fresh air and physical exertion is good for muscles, circulation, mental stimulation, stress relief, coordination, conversation, and so many more things. Get a ball and play catch – see how far or high you can throw the ball or how many times you can catch it without dropping it. Get lacrosse sticks or street hockey sticks and teach yourselves how to throw/pass and catch. Create a race course in your yard. Whatever you choose, get out there for at least 60 minutes!
- Go Swimming. Get in a pool or a lake and swim. Swimming is an important skill for kids to learn. Not only is the physical activity important, the skill never really goes away and can even save their lives one day. So if yours do not know how to swim, make this the summer that they learn!
- Create a safe kid-friendly blog. Depending on your child’s age, help them set up a blog that both of you can use this summer. You can make this a place where they discuss books, summer activities, favorite recipes, celebrity gossip, whatever! They may not even realize it, but it is getting them to write each day over the summer. Hopefully it will help their grammar and writing skills as well as spark some creativity!
- Read at least one chapter book a week. There are endless studies that show that the kids who read over the breaks from school end up ahead of those who do not. Find a topic that interests your child and stock up on those books. Sit with them while they read out loud to you or just have time set aside for reading. At the end of the week, have a discussion or let them give you a book report. Not only are they reading, possibly learning, but this will develop their critical thinking skills.
- Plant a garden. I love gardening, and my son likes to see progress in his vegetable garden. It doesn’t matter if it’s vegetables, flowers, or herbs, just plant a garden. If you don’t have outdoor space, there are lots of window gardens and planters that you can start indoors. Learn the parts of plants and what each one needs to grow. For my son, taking care of the garden was his first responsibility. After planting, he was in charge of weeding and watering. Some summers have been drier, so the watering had to be done everyday. This season ahs been pretty wet so far, so the weeding has to be done more often than watering.
- Have a movie marathon. Not every summer day is sunny and perfect for outdoor activities. These are perfect days for spending the day catching up on movies, especially movie series, like Star Wars or Harry Potter. After each movie, have a little time to do a question and answer session, like a movie review. Sneak in that critical thinking and deductive reasoning whenever you can! So get the pillows, blankets, and comfy chairs ready. Stock up on popcorn, M&M’s, Yoo-hoos, and sandwich stuff. Hit Play!
- Tye Dye T-shirts. I love homemade tye-dye shirts! Especially if they say something special on them, like Family Reunion 2019 or Birthday Party Bash. It’s great for camps, sleepovers, parties, family vacation, etc. I recommend getting a kit if you are doing this with kids. Clean up is easier this way! You can buy tye dye kits easily from Walmart or Amazon or any crafting store. Get creative. Blend colors, try unique patterns; none will come out the same! Here is a website that I found that has tips on how to get different patterns: https://www.guidepatterns.com/47-cool-tie-dye-shirt-patterns.php
- Learn a new language. Just as in summer reading, there are many studies which show that kids who learn a different language have better attention span, increase their memory, and will pick up more languages easier once a second one is learned. Students who are bilingual tend to score higher on standardized tests in areas like reading and math than their classmates who are not bilingual. And let’s face it, our world is becoming smaller. Learning another language is becoming an essential job skill. So pick one that you and your child could use in your area and get learning some new phrases! You’ll be setting your child up for higher test scores and paving the way to learning other languages easily in their future.
Really it doesn’t matter what you do this summer with your family, as long as you spending quality time together. Limit screen time and maximize fun time; get outside and explore. There is a learning opportunity with every experience.
What are your plans for this summer?