Summer is such a fun time! There’s the beach, the pool, cold treats! There’s also a ton of downtime. This is where some parents may struggle to fill in the gaps.
Finding meaningful activities to do with your children can be difficult. We don’t want the children glued to a screen all day, but how can we fill in the quiet spaces of the day when we’ve played hide & seek for the 67th time?
One thing I stress in my classroom is independence. Independent learners THRIVE. They also take initiative. If you create opportunities for learning, your independent learner will use them joyfully. Take this mindset into your home, and you will be able to create thoughtful, fun, and even educational activities for your children.
Unfortunately, having a journal or a diary is stereotyped as a girl’s activity. I challenge that notion completely and cite the fact there are so many amazing male authors out there who just needed an opportunity to express themselves through the written word.
Having a journal is actually the number one activity I suggest to my parents. It doesn’t matter if a child is above or below grade level, the opportunity to express themselves freely is powerful. I’m not an advocate of policing what children write, and please, please, please, don’t harp on spelling. I get the question about spelling all the time, and the way that I teach my children to write helps with this issue.
My famous quote is: “Writing is just talking on paper.” You know what fixes spelling better than fussing? Reading something as it’s been written. Now, before I move forward, I want to say that the skills that your child has already learned need to be demonstrated in his or her writing. If your daughter knows how to spell consonant-vowel-consonant (cVc) words, she should consistently use that skill as she writes.
Once your child has written in his or her journal, go over the entry by reading it aloud…as it’s written. The reactions of children who’s words are not being read correctly are sometimes the funniest! They end up teaching you and correcting you, but this is your moment to step in and have them think about the sounds they may be missing in their words. Focus on the words they should be able to spell, and feel free to write under the larger words what they actually are. Remember this is about expression. Everything else will come with time!
Get in the Kitchen
How many of us have memories of being in the kitchen with our parents? I often talk about waking up Saturday mornings and baking bread with my mom. Those memories are some of my most cherished. Create some of those memories with your children.
This isn’t just about making cookies for a special occasion. Allow your child to help with spaghetti tonight. Make this time more intentional and common. Not only are you spending quality time with your child, but you are also gifting them with recipes and skills that will extend outside of the classroom.
Cooking and baking combine math, science, reading, and sometimes history. Cooking also implores you to think critically. Discuss the concept of measuring, and why it’s important. Talk about the science by acknowledging the changes that are occurring when you mix or heat what you’re making. Talk about the history of the dish you’re making, or even have your child read the recipe to you. Over time you’re going to have a child who is not only a master at several dishes, but now that they know the basics, they can be creative and use what they’ve learned to make their own meals. And in the long run, you might get some nights off when they’re older!
Create a Mini STEM Challenge
Many times we hear “STEM,” and we automatically link that with complicated. It simply doesn’t have to be so! Mini STEM challenges are amazing ways to assess your child’s creative thinking and encourage perseverance. We often hear teachers talk about how easily many children give up in the classroom. This is often because students haven’t been allowed the chance to fail. We don’t have to win at everything. There is so much growth in learning how to adapt from our mistakes.
There are two ways to approach this concept. One is more traditional, and the other is just for fun. With the first, you give your child parameters to completing the activity. The second way, which my personal favorite, you give them materials they may or may not seem like they go together, and you allow them to create.
For example, challenge your child to build a tower taller than a ruler using just marshmallows and toothpicks. Another challenge would be to create a bridge using only craft sticks and tape that a small rubber ball can roll across.
So maybe you want to have more structure in your day? Take a tip from primary teachers, and create stations or centers. This allows your children to have structure and setting it up will eventually become a breeze. Your children can rotate to different 3-5 stations every 15-20 minutes, so they don’t have a chance to become bored. Once the routine is set, this allows you the opportunity to get something accomplished as well!
Here are eight easy station ideas you can set up at home:
- Board Game
- Dry Erase
- Journal Time
I’m a firm believer in the scavenger hunt! They can be leveled in so many ways that your child will stay entertained! Additionally, they teach children to think critically, pay attention to details, and follow directions. Win! Win! Win!
When your child is younger, have her search for a certain number of items such as certain toys or shapes. She can collect the items she finds in a bucket or bag. Older children may enjoy having a prize to search for at the end of their scavenger hunt. Either way, the activities can be catered to your child’s skills and interests.
Which activity do you think you will do this summer? Share your thoughts below!