I am the first to raise my hand when asked if I struggle with keeping the kids entertained in the summer. What I have found, though, is that sneaking in some summer learning activities and a lot of fun into the boring days is all we need to create an ideal balance.
Here are a few inexpensive summer learning activities to try with your kids to help keep them entertained in the summer.
Write a Pen Pal: One activity that has helped my daughter with her writing, plus learning the give-and-take of communication, has been writing letters to her very first pen pal. Facebook can be a beautiful way to connect with people in other parts of the world, and when I posted that we were looking for a pen pal, we were able to make a connection that will hopefully turn into a lifelong friend. We found a pen pal for my daughter that lives in Greece, and it has been a great way to learn about the country and what it would be like to live there.
Once you find a pen pal, use your computer or smartphone to show your child on Google Maps (try the street view!) where their pen pal lives. This is also a great opportunity to explore the country using Wikipedia so your child can learn about a different part of the world.
Not only is letter-writing a great exercise, but writing the address, return address and placing a stamp on the envelope helps build fine motor skills.
Visit a Museum For Free: Another favorite summer activity of ours is to visit the local museums. It’s a great way to get out of the house and learn something new. Most museums offer some type of free or discount day to take advantage of each month, which can be busy, but will save you a lot of money.
We found that our local library has museum membership passes to area museums that you can check out for the day and use for free admission to the museums. If you haven’t explored this option, it is also a great way to save your family a lot of money.
Combine your museum visit with a scavenger hunt! Visit the museum’s website to get an idea of the highlights, and put together a fast scavenger hunt that includes them. This idea can be also be applied to zoo and aquarium visits.
Get Patriotic: The summer is a patriotic time of year full of celebrating. Consider utilizing these holidays as a time to learn. For example, this year I gathered a list of Fourth of July heroes for my kids and had them research information about each on the iPad. They jotted down one or two surprising facts about each hero, and we created a banner of facts, photos and flags to use as decorations this year. Not only did my kids learn a lot, but I learned a lot along with them.
Holidays are an important time to teach your children the meaning behind the things we celebrate. The Fourth of July may just be a fireworks and cookout holiday to them, but the people and our freedom are really what it is all about. Consider activities surrounding other summer holidays like Labor Day and Bastille Day too.
Try a Science Experiment: Science experiments are always a big hit in our house, and summer is a great time to have some fun while learning in the process. One summer experiment we love is making car s’mores.
Simply wrap assembled s’mores ingredients in tin foil packets, and place them on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet on the dash of your car on a really hot day, and set a timer for 15 minutes. Once time is up, head to the car, and discover a perfectly cooked s’more.
Have your kids draft a hypothesis about if the car will be warm enough to melt the ingredients, and have them document their results.
The best part about this experiment is that you get to eat the results while you talk about it!