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6 Tips to Make Summer Fun and Educational at Home



If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids entertained and in learning mode over the summer, consider these helpful tips.

1. Set Goals.

What is it that you would like to achieve by the end of the week, month or summer? Perhaps you and your child want to write a short book or story, run a 5K, learn a language, learn how to play a musical instrument or read a certain number of books. Have a brainstorming session with your kids to determine their interests, and incorporate the results into your goals.

2. Make a list of required daily activities.

Build an age-appropriate job list for each child, and have everyone do their jobs as a group first thing after breakfast. Turn on some music and make it a clean-up party. If your kids need extra motivation, get some cheap “rewards” at the dollar store and offer a treasure chest to choose from when the chores are done. Not only does this step help instill a sense of responsibility into kids, it also gets these tasks out of the way so you can enjoy the rest of the day.

3. Use daily themes to guide your activities.

Schedule times for fun activities, physical exercise, reading and writing and ways to make progress toward your goals. Pick a day of the week to focus on each of these areas as in the following schedule.

Make Something Monday: Focus on tasks that use your brain to create something new — build with blocks, do arts & crafts, write stories or try new recipes in the kitchen.

Travel Tuesday: Visit a museum, splash pad, lake or zoo. The trip doesn’t have to be elaborate. You could go to a nearby park and have a scavenger hunt.

Wondering Wednesday: Make a list of all those questions your children have been wondering about, and plan activities to help them discover the answers.

Thankful Thursday: Do activities that teach your children about gratitude and giving back. Visit a homeless shelter, or collect and deliver goods to a place in need. Coordinate a litter pickup with other families, or visit a nursing home and sing to the residents.

Fit Friday: Focus on physical activities. Take walks and bike rides, go swimming, play tag or catch. If it’s too hot, do an in- door family dance party. Make it an active day, and perhaps end the day with a family movie night to relax after all your hard work.

4. Incorporate literacy activities.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, students lose up to two months of reading skills over the summer. Kids should read or be read to every day for 20-30 minutes. Check your local library for a summer reading challenge program to motivate your kids to read more.

5. Keep a list of “extras.”

Have a list of things to do when you can’t think of anything else. Put ideas on slips of paper and store them in a mason jar called “The Bored Jar” for your children to choose from when you’ve run out of activities. Ideas might include online reading or math games, board games with siblings, extra reading or writing, paint- ing or drawing.

6. Be flexible.

Summer should be fun. A rigid schedule may stress everyone out. Allow plenty of time for friends, movies and other relaxing activities.

Online education resources

Scratch is a tool that teaches kids to be creative, reason systematically and work in a group. The user can program her own interactive stories, games and animations and share them with the community online.

Scholastic is chockfull of activity ideas that cover reading, writing, outdoor activities, math, science, food . . . you name it. They have pages of free printables as well. Great FREE activities by age range to keep kids busy!

Meet me at Midnight by the Smithsonian: If your kids liked the movie Night at the Museum, they are going to LOVE this!  This animated program takes users on tours of museums at night -- when all the adventures come alive!

Kids.gov -- touted as a "safe place to learn and play" -- has some really cool programs, webcasts, games and activities.

Don't forget about PBS! They have all kinds of online activities and games, free printables and ideas for crafts and games.

Alexa Bigwarfe is a freelance writer and mom of three. 

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