SMART SUMMER: Activities to Keep Kids Brains AND Bodies Active!!!

By S. Standish

The weeks off for the summer holidays are the ideal time to find exciting ways to keep young brains stimulated. Any little bit helps, and each of these summer ideas will do the trick for maintaining your child’s current grade/skill level. What’s more important, is that they apply the skills to their real life, which always makes things more valuable and meaningful. This definitely helps them in staying engaged in and out of the class room.

  1. READ! READ! READ! Encourage kids to read, read with them, find cool activities/recipes/labs that coincide with themes or plots in a book and engage your children in literature exploration.
  2. Experiment! Have your offspring pick out a cool science kit. Research a cool scientific activity you can do from materials that are just kicking around. The Making Science Make Sense website has ideas for experiments that can be done with common household supplies.
  3. Play outside a lot! There needs to be an emphasis on learning healthy habits, such as regularly being physically active.  Go swim in a pool or go for a bike ride, or sign your kids up for a sports team.
  4. Summer Learning Books! My kids have ‘Summer Brain Quest’ for their grade levels and they absolutely love doing their homework pages! Link HERE.
  5. Cooking and Baking – Being a high school Teacher that teaches nutrition classes, I can tell you how many kids are lacking basic skills in the area of feeding oneself. Following an age-level appropriate recipe will have your munchkins measuring the ingredients carefully(sneaking in basic math), and will help with maintain the focus they will need for science labs and worksheets come September. We love all the cute recipes available at Disney Recipes.
  6. Survival Skills Classes – There are a lot of cool programs offered at government-sponsored parks. There are online forums on activities to do with kids of varying ages that engage their innate primal knowledge to live off of nature.
  7. Museum/Science Center Visit – Let each kid have a brochure and circle the areas that they want to see/do the most. Have the kids rate them after!
  8. Making videos on what interests them. YouTube channels abound, and why not allow your child to make a channel on things that interest them, you as their parent can make the decision of the visibility/publicity of their creations.
  9. If your child struggles with school content, find a tutor who can make learning fun and consistent! This is usually in a one-on-one interactive environment, which may be the best for assisting a child to learn and preparing for the next academic year.
  10. One of the easiest ways to get your children motivated, active and ‘brainified’ this summer is to assist them by exploring fun activities that relate to their personal interests. Whatever your child’s interest is, considering their passions and helping them make plans to dive into their hobbies is not only a great thing for them but also for the rest of the family!
    1. A music lover- why not see if there is a free summer concert series they could attend?
    2. Animal enthusiast – why not spend the day at the zoo or a vet clinic? Some zoos have a junior zookeeper program, which would be amazing for your future veterinarian or zoologist to complete.
    3. Next Julia Child –
    4. Artist in the making –  help them find their creative outlet of choice and keep supplies on hand, or you could even find a local art exhibition near you to attend.
  11. Journal their summer. Find out if they would love a written journal, a visual one, a cartoon depiction of what they did and then purchase an appropriate paper medium.
  12. Make Ice CREAM!!!! This is such a simple and awesome summer activity………making Ice Cream in a Bag. Soon your child will have delicious home-made icecream. What ice cream varieties will you and your child concoct? Talk with your kids about brain freeze.
  13. Go to the library. Find an interesting topic and figure out what it means. Kids are constantly asking questions, a lot of them we as their guardians may not know the answer to. Instead of ‘googling it’ take them to your local library and find out from books, magazine articles etc.
  14. Have them help with daily activities, keep a chore chart, plan the grocery list, take a survey to do something as a family (from choosing a new paint colour for the living room, to where to go on the next day trip).
  15. Visit a factory – Stimulate your children’s brains by visiting places where they can learn about how things are made. We took our kids to a Corning Glass Factory last year and they absolutely loved it!  I know as a kid, I went to a cereal factory and thought the best thing in the world was trying a piece of warm, just-made cereal.
  16. Make something with wood! Birdhouses, boats and ramps…..Going to your local Lowe’s or Home Depot, and exploring their scraps bin is a fun trip AND helps your kids learn. Make sure to tell the workers it is for the child and they always try to help and find cheap or free pieces of wood.
  17. Having a PEN PAL. Kids will enjoy writing letters to share ideas and experiences during the summer with friends or family members who live out of town. The trick is to have your child actually write the notes. If you want to scan and send them to save on the postage, that’s good, but a lot of kids need to keep working on their writing and grammar.
  18. Weather is a cool thing that kids can look into on their summer holidays. Track the weather by exploring clouds, temperature and humidity. Have the kids try to see if they can use today’s weather to predict something about tomorrow’s weather.
  19. Go on a treasure hunt! Set your kids up with a long adventure to finding some sort of fun pot of gold treat.
  20. Have your kids redesign their bedroom, what can they do to suit their older self???? This can be a fun project. You can easily sell and buy new room items online on Craigslist or Kijiji – type sites or apps.
  21. Make a list of summer things that they want to do, and have fun researching where/most economical ways of doing each thing on the checklist. Have it hanging up in a well-travelled area of the home and let each child check something off their lists in a fun way (stickers, cutting it off the list and sticking it in a ‘Done’ jar,  etc). From budgeting to planning the day, kids will learn quite a bit from the process. They will also be more engaged in what you are doing on your trip that day because they had a large part in the whole process.
  22. Explore another geographic location. Again it can be a town near you, or a town halfway around the world. This helps young learners to get an early understanding of a different culture, cool traditions and significant landmarks in different areas they are visiting, which will overall improve their historical and geographical prowess.
  23. Summer camps!!! There are great camps that are options for your child to get involved in. There are a lot of price options as well. Explore online forums in your area to find a camp that suits your child’s needs as well as yours.
  24. Fill in summer’s special days and events on blank calendars for the summer months. Let them use pencils, construction paper, stickers, glitter and rulers to create, decorate, and fill in their own summer calendars.
  25. Fun math application activities. If you’ve got a family trip to a baseball game planned, spend some time calculating batting averages or slugging percentages so your kids learn about the sport, and more snakingly, about math.
  26. Having play dates or hang outs with peers. Social interaction is also important to foster over the long summer break.
  27. I would love to avoid as much electronics as I can, but it is what todays students are accustomed to in their classrooms, so including SOME educational computer games and apps in your summer activities is okay. Many games and apps in the Apple store, Google Play and Amazon will hook your children’s curiosity about technology while also keeping their brains on task. Search for educational games on your search engine and you will find a great selection to choose from.

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