When I was a child, my favorite summer moments happened in the library. Yes, beach days are fun, but I’d rather spend time scanning shelves of books. How crazy is that?! Yet even as a mom, I wanted to bring a bit of summer learning into our home. Of course, my kids weren’t interested in spending their days in the library, so I brought in summer learning other ways.
1. Summer classes and camps. Many schools, colleges and museums have summer classes or camps. These programs make learning fun. My son Cory took a soapbox derby class where they designed and made their own cars and learned about engineering. My daughter took art classes in the park and had a great time weaving, painting, and more.
2. Play in the garden. We planted a garden once, oh yes we did. It was not a pretty sight, but we learned a lot. Even if you have a small plot (or a pot!) your kids can having fun growing something. Also, check out library books about plants, photosynthesis, and ecosystems to learn about the growing process.
3. Get cooking. I clearly remember my daughter flipping pancakes at the age of 5 dressed in a pink tutu. Summer is a great time to start cooking classes with your kids. Have them help you make a shopping list, go shopping, and cook! Teach or reinforce measurements and cooking terms. They’ll love it, and hey, you’ve got to eat, don’t you?!
4. Create stories and plays. Creating stories is fun, but don’t just count on paper and pens. Talk about characters, dialogue and action, and act out their story. If you have a video camera, record it! My kids loved to put on circus skits or recreate their favorite Bible stories or fairy tales.
5. Host a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Pick out items up and down your street, such as an oak tree, a fire hydrant and a brown door, and write them on index cards. Then take your kids on a walk and see who can find the items first. This reinforces reading skills, and they don’t even know it!
6. Create a map of your home. Help your kids draw a map and teach them new words, such as north, south, east, west, map key, scale, etc.
7. Create a weekly date to be a tourist in your town. Stop by a local hotel and pick up tourist attraction brochures from the front lobby; find things to do that are free or inexpensive. Create a memory book and have your children write down what they experience (AKA journaling!)
8. Reading clubs. Most libraries have summer reading clubs where kids can earn points or prizes for books read. I also created a prize box for my children, and they could get additional prizes for reading. (And the prizes I picked out were “educational,” such as science kits and art supplies.)
9. Pick a summer topic. Want to learn about oceans, puppy care, or photography? Pick a summer topic as a family and see how much you can learn together.
In the end your kids will have no idea they’re learning. They’ll just be enjoying the time together . . . and the fun!