10 Smart Activities to Keep Your Kids Sharp This Summer
With school out, it's important to encourage tons of fun in the sun, but also a few "smart" activities to help curb the Summer slump. There's no need to whip out workbooks or give formal lessons, but there are plenty of activities — some that your kids likely already enjoy doing — that can aid in keeping their minds engaged and brains switched on.
Read through for 10 (fun) activities to do with your kids to keep them sharp over Summer break.
Grow a garden.
Through planting seeds, watering the plants, and watching them grow, you can teach kids about photosynthesis and how the sun and water help plants to grow. Plus, you can plant vegetables to make amazing Summer salads — it's a win-win.
Host a math scavenger hunt.
Type up a list of "math" items for your kiddos to find and set them loose in the yard. Based on the age of your kids, the list items can change, but you can include anything from "Find seven green leaves" to "How many trees are in the yard?" You can also use this as an opportunity to sharpen addition or subtraction skills; for example, "Find three flowers and 10 twigs — how many items do you have?"
Teach children about scientific observations by having them collect rocks and then record their findings, such as the different sizes, colors, shapes, and textures. (Then you can make pet rocks as an art project by painting their favorites!)
Do a fizzy chalk experiment.
Drop broken pieces of sidewalk chalk in water, then some in vinegar, and watch your child be amazed as the chalk in vinegar starts fizzing! For older children, you can teach them about the calcite in chalk, which is the cause of the fizzy reaction (some rocks also contain calcite, so you can drop the rocks from their collections into vinegar to find out which ones have calcite).
Instead of buying bubbles at the store, show your littles that bubbles can be made by mixing water and dish soap (plus a bit of corn syrup) at home. Try blowing bubbles with different objects like strainers, cheese graters, or rubber bands.
Test out what floats.
Take water activities to the next level! Fill a kiddie pool or big pot with water, and test things around the house and yard to see what floats and what doesn't. Does an egg float? An empty water bottle? (For older kids, explain that things that float are less dense — or heavy — than the water, causing them to sit above the liquid, and vice versa.)
Encourage Summer reading.
Chances are that your child has a mandated Summer reading book for school, but you should encourage additional reading in your house regardless. Keeping kids' brains actively engaged through reading keeps their language skills sharp and can help with spelling, comprehension, and other skills they practice in school (check out some awesome series for them to read during the school break).
Keep journals or write stories.
Have your kids keep a journal and write a little bit about each day to keep their writing, spelling, and handwriting skills sharp. Encourage them to write a story and then either read it out loud to the family or turn it into a puppet show.
Cook or bake something.
Cooking is a fun way to learn math and science, and it's an important life skill. Pick a fun recipe and encourage kids to do all of the measuring and mixing as they can, and if possible, use this as an opportunity to teach them about healthy ingredients.