Once school is out for summer, it’s easy for kids to turn off their brains and focus on fun. However, this can create a dangerous break in learning, that for some, can be hard to recover from. According to many sources, kids lose an average of two months of learning in math and reading over the summer months. But this loss can be deterred by setting some simple learning goals and adding fun activities to your summer to build on core skills, instead of losing them. We’ve got a list of fun boredom busters for you to explore and to engage your kids in new learning, without them even knowing.
Go Treasure Hunting
Summer is the time to get out and enjoy nature, and there’s no better way to do so than by exploring a local park or nature path. What many people don’t know is that amongst the trees and lakes there are millions of hidden treasures lurking, just waiting to be found. Why not turn your nature walk into a treasure hunt by incorporating geocaching into your journey.
Grab your phone and create a free account on the Geocaching website. You can then find a geocache nearby and use the compass to navigate to this location. Bring along a cool knick knack to trade and a pen to sign the logbook to show you found the stash. You can log your finds online and keep track of your wins.
This helps kids build math skills, helps teach them how to use a compass to orient and navigate and how to estimate travel time and distances. Geocaching is a great way to develop skills in an entertaining way.
Explore A Local Museum
If you’re looking for a surefire way to build knowledge, head to your local museum. Most towns and cities offer a variety of different learning opportunities through themed museums. Whether it’s learning about history at a regional museum, delving into hands-on experiments at a local science center, or exploring ancient civilization and dinosaurs at a Natural History Museum, there is something new to learn. Even the most skeptical kids will walk away with interesting facts and new ideas from a museum. Check your local schedules as many of these locations offer free tours or special sessions with experts. Just last week I got a personal tour of the dinosaur collection at the New York Museum of Natural History simply by flagging down a volunteer wearing an “Ask me about fossils” pin.
Once you get home, you can encourage your kid’s newfound curiosity by giving them a challenge to produce five little known facts about what they saw. This can be anything from naming one dinosaur from each era, to listing the five most popular rock types, to finding the names of three endangered species. Encourage kids to use online resources, like Learning Bird, to continue exploring topics of interest at their own pace.
Make a Movie
Put your kid’s interest in technology to good use by making a family movie. I don’t mean just stringing together slides of your last vacation set to royalty free music. I mean actually going through the full movie making process. Start with an idea, write up a script, map out your storyboards, plan your shots and call “action”. Before long your kids are practicing writing, planning, sequencing, editing and memorizing lines. All while building up their reading and writing skills. As an added bonus, you’ll have a memorable family keepsake and something to upload to YouTube and share with the grandparents.
Anyone who bakes regularly knows that it’s more science than anything. And it’s a perfect opportunity to trick kids into practicing their fractions. Pull out your favorite recipe and challenge your kids by asking them to scale it to a crowd. Make muffins for your neighborhood, or build a multi-layer cake. Doing the math to scale recipes and adjust cooking time is not only fun, it can be a challenge too. You can make things even more interesting by learning how to substitute out ingredients. Make your favorite brownies into a vegan treat by swapping out the eggs and butter for flax and coconut oil and see the differences in consistency. Baking is the tastiest science experiment you can do.
Challenge Your Family
Reading just 4-5 books over the summer months can help prevent reading skill loss. Make reading part of your summer by setting up a friendly family summer challenge. Set time aside as a family for reading and encourage challenges between family members to see who can read the greatest number of pages or the thickest book by summer’s end. Establish milestone rewards and mini-challenges to make the contest even more interesting.
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean that the learning needs to stop. By getting out, exploring, or taking on a new project, your kids will feel challenged and it will help bust their summer boredom.