As a teacher and a mother of three school-age children, I am a firm believer in keeping the learning, and especially the exploring going on throughout the summer. Kids need to by engaged and interested in things other than video games and the Internet. Not that my own kids don’t spend anytime on-line and building worlds in Minecraft, but just like everything else, moderation is the key! Personal Creations is trying to encourage parents to work with their children throughout summer to keep them sharp and mentally engaged and that has sparked the idea for this post.
We spend a lot of summer days and evenings exploring the areas in and around our city. We have an amazing zoo, a conservatory, a science center, an art museum, and more! We also are lucky to have a lot of fabulous MetroParks. As a mom to three kids, it is important to keep them thinking, questioning and exploring as much as possible! I have to find activities that will keep my 9th, 7th, and 2nd grader all engaged and interested, which can be a little challenging.
Here are some of our favorite summer activities:
Keeping a Nature Notebook or Field Guide
My kids love to sketch, so I tap into that interest and we all (myself included) keep a nature notebook. When we go on hikes, or even if we are in our own yard, we all try to record things in our nature notebooks. My boys were huge fans of the Spiderwick book series and there is an amazing nature log that is a companion to the book. My kids try to make their nature notebooks look similar to this one. We have nylon backpacks that hold the notebook, colored pencils, baggies, regular pencils, a pencil sharpener, tape and lightweight plastic containers with lids. We got the notebooks from the scrapbook section of the Michael’s near our house. It has heavier weight pages. If you have not read the Spiderwick series, you may want to try it! Click here for the link to the set!
Do Some Grave Rubbings and Researching
We are lucky to have quite a few historic cemeteries in our general area. We even have a Confederate Prison Camp cemetery called Camp Chase from the Civil War. All you need is a SmartPhone, paper, and crayons! We choose a grave or two, complete the grave rubbing and then try to do research in order to find out as much as we can about the person. My kids love a challenge, and this really gets them researching!
Visit the Zoo and Make Fact Files
We are members of the zoo in our area, so we can go anytime we want. We like to go for short periods of time and we tend to focus on one or two areas. Once in the area, we create fact files. I let the kids take pictures and write down facts about the animals we see. Once we are home, the kids continue to research the animals, we print the pictures and they create informational books about the trip! They love to go back and read these books! My daughter loves to make her own zoo exhibits with plastic animals as well. She gets very creative and she usually uses things she finds outside and around the house.
Open a Lemonade Stand or have a Toy Sale
I am always trying to find ways to get my kids to de-clutter their toys! We have a toy garage sale every summer. I let my kids choose the items they want to include, they set the prices, and when it is all over, they get to decide where to DONATE the money they made during the sale. There is a cat rescue place near our house and the kids often choose to donate the money to them! They also volunteer their time at the cat rescue place about twice a month.
No matter what you do this summer, spend quality time with your kids! Exploring, observing, questioning, and learning should continue throughout the summer months, just like they do during the school year. Have fun and enjoy your kids this summer!