By Janeen Lewis
Summer is a magic time for kids, but according to the National Summer Learning Association, research shows that children experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. How do you combat brain-drain during the summer, but still give your kids the carefree break they deserve? Try some of these fun and easy ways for the whole family to combine time off with activities that give the brain a boost.
- Attend your city’s summer reading program. Most summer reading programs have special activities and prizes for children and adults. Have a friendly family competition to see who can read the most minutes.
- Summer doesn’t have to be screen-free. There are many apps that make reading, science, social studies and math fun. Choose educational game apps that review skills your child learned during the year.
- Grow a garden together. See who can grow the biggest watermelon.
- Visit a military cemetery or battlefield or go to a reenactment.
- Make homemade ice cream in a bag and talk about physical properties and changes. Food.com or Allrecipes.com have recipes for this sweet homemade treat.
- Go on a treasure hunt by geocaching. Using a GPS, treasure seekers enter a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden container at the location. Check out geocaching.com to find out more.
- Pick a recipe and let your child apply their knowledge of measuring and fractions while you cook or bake together.
- Check out a book on a famous artist like Vincent Van Gogh. Let your child create their own rendering of one the artist’s masterpieces and then frame it.
- Take a self-guided walking tour of your town and study the architecture. Look for geometric shapes or Greek or Roman influences.
- Tour the historical buildings in your town.
- Have a lemonade, Popsicle or cookie stand. Help your child make a budget, buy supplies, and balance the accounts. Research and choose a charity to donate the funds to.
- Visit a museum. From art and history to science and creative play, there are a variety of interesting museums all over the country with exhibits geared toward kids.
- Learn about other ethnicities. Attend a cultural festival, start learning a foreign language or visit an ethnic restaurant in your community.
- Take a creek walk together and sketch pictures of living things in a creek habitat.
- Go strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry picking and make a pie together. Talk about what the Pi symbol in math means.
- Play a game that hones logic skills, like Clue.
- Help clean up your favorite park. Recycle as much trash as you can.
- Play a trivia game with your family asking questions about the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July.
- Pick a vacation destination. Using a scale map and ruler, figure out how many miles and approximately how many hours it will take to get there.
- Send post cards to friends and family members from all the places you visit this summer, even if you just take day trips. Let your child write the message.
- Draw your family tree together before a family reunion.
- Talk with the oldest person in your family at the family reunion. Help your child write down some of the interesting stories.
- Let your kids design and construct an obstacle course in the backyard. Invite the neighbors and have a parents versus kids’ race.
- Go camping and tell stories around the campfire.
- Make a scrapbook of your summer together. Let your kids write the captions.
Janeen Lewis is a freelance journalist, teacher, and mom to Andrew and Gracie. She loves to keep learning alive during summer.