5 Fun, Ed­u­ca­tional Sum­mer Ac­tiv­i­ties for Kids

Sunday Star - - LIFE -

Sum­mer may be a break from for­mal education, but keep­ing kids ex­cited about learn­ing can be an easy way to keep them ac­tive and en­gaged in­stead of zoned out on screen time. The Na­tional Sum­mer Learn­ing As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates that kids can lose up to two months of learn­ing dur­ing the sum­mer but in­volv­ing kids in ed­u­ca­tional sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties can pre­vent them from for­get­ting skills they learned dur­ing the school year. En­cour­age your kids to keep learn­ing out­side of school with these fun and ed­u­ca­tional sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties.

Visit a Science Mu­seum

Spend a rainy day en­joy­ing a science mu­seum, which of­fers hands-on ex­pe­ri­ences to make learn­ing fun. Kids can build on what they’ve al­ready learned and ap­ply new dis­cov­er­ies when they re­turn to school in the fall. Many mu­se­ums of­fer spe­cial prices for fam­i­lies, which makes it an op­por­tu­nity for the whole fam­ily to bond. Once you get home, talk about fa­vorite ex­hibits or les­sons and ask kids to ex­press those mem­o­ries on pa­per in the form of a journal en­try or col­or­ful draw­ing.

Head to the Zoo or Aquar­ium

At a con­ser­va­tion-ori­ented des­ti­na­tion like an As­so­ci­a­tion of Zoos and Aquar­i­ums (AZA)-ac­cred­ited zoo or aquar­ium, kids can learn about the im­por­tance of en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly prac­tices, an­i­mal care and wel­fare and more. Fam­i­lies can also ex­plore the unique chal­lenges fac­ing en­dan­gered species and dis­cover how mem­bers are Sav­ing An­i­mals From Ex­tinc­tion (SAFE). Af­ter learn­ing about an­i­mals that need help, kids can visit ze­brapen.com/aza for fun games that re­in­force what they learned. Kids can also draw their fa­vorite an­i­mals, real or imag­i­nary, and take a photo to en­ter Ze­bra Pen’s AZA SAFE con­test. Prizes in­clude zoo or aquar­ium tick­ets and items from the Zen­sa­tions prod­uct line.

Go on a Na­ture Hike

Hikes pro­vide abun­dant na­ture les­sons, giv­ing kids a chance to get some ex­er­cise while ex­plor­ing and ap­pre­ci­at­ing their sur­round­ings. Visit a na­tional or lo­cal park to get some fresh air and learn about pre­serv­ing na­ture. Along with a pic­nic lunch, bring along in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal wildlife and plants, and have kids search for each item on the list as a scavenger hunt. Back at home, test their mem­o­ries by hav­ing them cre­ate a col­lage of all the things they found.

See a Show at a Chil­dren’s Theater

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing live theater is a pos­i­tive way to in­tro­duce kids to new cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences. Be­cause they’re typ­i­cally short in run time, most shows can hold the at­ten­tion of kids of all ages while con­vey­ing im­por­tant life les­sons. Pick a show with lots of in­ter­ac­tion that can al­low kids to stay fo­cused and maybe even par­tic­i­pate in the show. Act­ing out their fa­vorite scenes, il­lus­trat­ing fa­vorite char­ac­ters or writ­ing a new scene or dif­fer­ent end­ing are all ways to keep the learn­ing go­ing af­ter the cur­tains close.

Join a Li­brary Pro­gram

Spe­cial sum­mer pro­grams at li­braries can give kids a chance to en­hance their read­ing skills. Many lo­cal li­braries of­fer con­tests that chal­lenge kids to read a cer­tain num­ber of books dur­ing the sum­mer and in­clude a se­ries of in­cen­tives for reach­ing cer­tain mile­stones. The read­ing com­po­nent is of­ten sup­ple­mented with crafts and ac­tiv­i­ties to make read­ing fun. Ex­tend the chal­lenge even fur­ther by choos­ing a fa­vorite book and ask­ing kids to write or draw a se­quel that takes those char­ac­ters on an­other ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture.

Photo cour­tesy of Getty Im­ages

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