15 Activities to Keep Kids' Brains Active in Summer

As students set out on summer adventures, we wanted to share with parents a much-needed "life preserver" -- a list of 25 activities to share and enjoy with their children. These fun activities cover all subjects and grades; there truly is something for everyone. And, if you have your own summer adventurers at home, this list can rescue your kids from the boredom and blahs of rainy summer days. This year, do more than amuse and entertain your kids and hope for the best for your children, keep their minds working all summer long! Included: Twenty-five activities to fight summer boredom and build thinking skills.

It's summer -- that time of year when many teachers bid farewell to students, hoping their gleefully escaping charges don't forget everything they've learned during the school year. It's also the time of year when nervous parents take on the challenge of keeping their children physically busy and mentally active during long summer days. To help those efforts, Education World offers 25 ideas that not only reinforce skills taught during the year, but also to entertain students through the summer months. So here are some ideas to help your children make the most of the lazy, hazy days to come!

  

1. Teach kids to cook with the step-by-step lessons and recipes at Cooking With Kids. The site also includes measurement reminders, safety tips, and suggestions for involving kids in the cooking process. Or check out your local library or book store for one of the recommended Heritage Cooking for Kids: Taste History books and try out recipes from Colonial days, the Civil War, and the Lewis and Clark expedition.

 

2. Make homemade Bubble Solution and experiment with such unique Bubble-Blowing Tools as strings, milk containers, and garbage can lids.

 

3. Read aloud The Paper Crane by Molly Bang. Then introduce the art of paper folding by printing and following the instructions for How to Make an Origami Crane.

 

4. Go on a Light Walk, an outing designed to teach kids the properties of light and facts about the sun. Bob Miller of the Exploratorium explains it all. Can't take an online tour? Do your own image walk by printing the directions and template found at the site.

 

5. Create musical instruments from materials found around the house. Need help? Enchanted Learning provides instructions for such Musical Instruments as a rattle, box guitar, maraca, and rain stick.

 

6. Cool down by making Ice Cream in a Bag. The simple technique produces delicious ice cream in about 5 minutes. What ice cream varieties will you and your child concoct?

 

7. Read aloud a selection from Candlelight Storybooks or your own favorite myths or fairy tales. Discuss the stories with your child. Then invite your child to choose a favorite story, and together make a diorama depicting a pivotal moment in the tale.

 

8. Catch a firefly and then go to The Firefly Files online, or read a book, such as Fireflies by Sally M. Walker, to help your child learn more about them. Then invite your child to complete the Education World Firefly Facts work sheet. Firefly Facts Answers:

Fireflies are really beetles because they have four wings; true flies only have two wings.

Most fireflies like warm, humid areas.

In the United States, glowing fireflies are found east of the middle of Kansas.

Firefly larvae feed mostly on earthworms, snails, and slugs.

Scientists believe fireflies use their ability to flash as a warning signal to predators and to attract mates.

 

9. Print a grid of dots from Connect the Dots by Math Cats and invite your child to make an original tessellation.

 

10. Staple together pieces of plain paper or use a notebook to help your child make a cartoon flip book. Kids draw a sequence of cartoons and simulate motion as they "flip" through the pages. (Note that the first image in the series should be at the bottom of the stack of pages, and the illustrations should progress from bottom to top.) How to Draw Cartoons or The Complete Cartooning Course by Steve Edgell, Brad Brooks, and Tim Pilcher, offer simple instructions for drawing cartoon figures.

  

11. Start a rock collection. Collecting Rocks, a Web site by the U. S. Geological Survey, offers advice to help the novice collector gather, identify, and store neat rock specimens. The Audubon Society Pocket Guide Familiar Rocks and Minerals North America will help children identify and label the rocks and minerals they find.

 

12. Plan with your child a family activity day. Decide how much money to spend, and help your child research events and activities in your area and choose an affordable activity the whole family can enjoy.

 

13. Have your child follow instructions to Build the Best Paper Airplane in the World. Then ask your child to design an original paper airplane and diagram the steps for constructing it, so another family member can recreate it!

 

14. Start a family or neighborhood book club. Even a parent and child can form a book club, by reading the same book and chatting about it. For larger groups, check out some online hints for starting a book club.

 

15. Hang a white sheet outside at night and shine a light on it. Observe the variety of insects it draws. To identify some of those nighttime visitors, see The Orders and Selected Families of Insects or read the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders.

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