Your child won't lose the skills learned over the school years if you creatively incorporate learning into a playful setting over the summer.
Summer is a double-edged sword; parents often dread 2+ months of no school while kids can’t wait for a summer of endless fun. But playing and learning are not mutually exclusive; kids can still learn while being active and having fun.
Think Outside the Box
You can inspire creativity in your kids by being resourceful. For example, you can use a large cardboard box in a variety of ways—perfect for those rainy days when the kids are stuck inside. For older babies and toddlers, you can place them inside with a few crayons and let them create their own masterpiece. For school-age kids, you can cut a hole in one side to make a TV. Shine a flashlight on the TV “screen,” allow your child to choose a few props for the “show,” and let your child’s imagination run free. With a little imagination, you and your child can make a cardboard box into an airplane, a train, or a castle. The possibilities are endless.
Using an Everyday Item as Inspiration
Before you recycle that egg carton, consider how you might use it as an educational tool. Give an egg carton to your child and have him explore the outdoors, placing whatever small objects he finds in his “treasure chest.” You could also direct the scavenger hunt, asking your child to find different types of objects. For example, have him find 12 different types of rocks, leaves, or objects that are green. Use your expertise and knowledge to direct the search!
Preschoolers can practice their fine motor skills by gluing objects into the egg carton—cotton swabs, jelly beans, leaves, stickers—whatever you have laying around the house. You could also place 12 different themed items in the egg carton—circles, the color blue, cars—and go over the items with your child, practicing colors or shapes under the guise of entertainment.
Science Using Household Items
Oftentimes, it can be difficult to explain the concept of science to a child. You can find science almost anywhere—even at home. Everything can be a learning experiment. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or time to create a truly unique learning experience.
For some erupting science fun, try creating a model volcano.
-1 empty 25-oz. plastic bottle
-1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
-3 drops red food coloring
-1 cup vinegar
-1 ½ cups warm water
-2 tablespoons baking soda
-1 large spoon
What to do:
-Secure the open bottle with piles of dirt on all sides. Make sure the bottle stands up vertically.
-In the bottle, gently combine the dish soap and food coloring.
-Next, add the vinegar and warm water.
-Lastly, mix the baking soda with a drop or two of tap water in a large spoon. Only add enough water to lightly moisten the baking soda. Then, quickly pour the mixture into the bottle.
What happens next is scientific magic!
Try these easy ideas for spending time outside:
-Walking in a park
-Visiting a local playground
-Simply playing in your yard
Each activity mentioned above can be educational—you just need to be creative. While riding bikes, perhaps ask your child what sounds he hears or what animals he can identify. If you have an older child, ask him to identify different types of birds, trees, or plants he sees. If playing in your yard, ask your child to collect as many leaves as he can in 15 minutes. After gathering, see how many of the collected leaves he is able to identify.
Little learning moments are everywhere, and it’s up to you to make them into something extraordinary.