When the dog days of summer are getting you down, here are some ideas to put a spring back in your family’s step and make vacation time also educational.
Suggest your child create a journal. A journal can take many forms depending on the desires of the creator. Allow your student to be creative and choose a medium that best suits her personality.
- A budding photographer may enjoy creating a photo journal of a family vacation. Allow your child to print digital pictures and write captions to tell the story of the vacation. Small souvenirs or postcards can be added to such a journal as well.
- A young nature enthusiast might enjoy using recycled paper to create her own journal. The journal can then be used to gather items and report sightings on a nature hike at a local park or even the backyard. There are many videos and recipes available on the Internet explaining how to make paper. One possible technique is demonstrated in this video.
- The blossoming artist could use his favorite artistic tools to create a museum or auction catalog. The catalog should include an artist’s biography and each piece should be accompanied by a description.
- A younger gamer might find it exciting to write a journal from his favorite character’s point of view. The character’s journal can include vivid descriptions or the scenery and action sequences in the game. Alternatively, the student could write a fictional piece from this character’s perspective about what might happen as the story continues.
- Enroll in a summer reading program through a local library, bookstore, or even online. Most programs offer activities and incentives for children who participate. If you do not have a program in your area you can create your own. Work with your student to create small attainable goals for the summer. As your student achieves these goals celebrate these achievements with your student.
- Encourage your child to explore unfamiliar authors and genres of books.
- Introduce your child to a favorite book or author you remember from childhood.
- Read a novel or a work of historical fiction set in your vacation destination.
- Read travel guides about locations your family will visit this summer. Students can get involved in planning activities for the family based on what they learn through reading. Are you planning a staycation this summer? Read a travel guide for your own city to find a little-known park, museum, or other attraction worth exploring.
- After reading, engage your child in a fun project such as creating a book cover, diorama, or game about the story. Students can also create masks and act out a favorite scene from the story.
- Choose a wordless book and have your student write the story. Encourage her to use dialogue. Possible authors for this activity include David Wiesner and Alexandra Day, author of the Good Dog, Carl series.
Geography, Math, and Science:
- Allow your student to be your travel guide. The student can plan a day of fun either at home or at your vacation destination. Give the student a time frame and a budget and encourage him to work within the given parameters. Students can be responsible for calculating the travel time to and from the destination as well as allocating the budget to include meals, entrance fees, transportation, and other necessary expenses.
- A trip to an amusement park allows the student the opportunity to calculate the speed, momentum, and velocity of a favorite ride. Look for examples of simple machines such as pulleys or levers in the rides.
- Your child may want to make a map of the amusement park and count the number of steps from one attraction to several others. Then she can determine which is the longest route and which the shortest.
- Teach your student to read travel schedules for trains, planes, or bus routes. Students can use the arrival and departure times to practice elapsed time.
- Replace your GPS with a traditional map. Teach your student how to read the map and provide him with his own copy. Encourage him to follow your route and perhaps limit the number of times he asks, “Are we there yet?” Along the way, he can record information about sights and favorite memories of the trip right on the map.
- Create a collection of rocks, shells, flowers, insects, or other natural items. Students can work to sort these items into categories. Alternatively, a student can label the specimens with definitions or explanations.
- Design boats to study principles of buoyancy, physics, and movement. Boats can be crafted from recycled plastic bottles, bars of soap, paper, or lightweight wood. Use a popsicle stick or straw as a mast and paper for a sail. Boat races can be held in a child-size pool, bathtub, or stream. Students can time their entries, giving them an opportunity to compare and track time. The results may influence future boat designs.
What are your ideas?
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