Keep your summer filled with fun ways to stimulate young minds.
Does it seem like every time you turn around your home is literally being taken apart by an explorer? As parents, we often get angry over what appears to be intentionally destructive behavior.
But often, such behavior is the result of an extraordinary desire to learn. Our children are our future scientists, inventors and leaders. Find productive ways to keep their minds active!
When your child needs something new and interesting to do, have her try some of these fun, educational activities:
Make a book of facts.
Pick your child’s favorite interest, such as dinosaurs, insects, rock bands, sports or astronomy. Clip pictures and information from magazines or print images from the Internet. Trace drawings from books, and include personal experiences.
Create a scavenger hunt.
For small children, make a list of easy-to-find items. Older kids can create their own scavenger hunt for family or friends. A greater challenge is to make a list of clues for the scavengers to solve in order to determine the items they need to find.
Have your child make up a restaurant menu with several simple dishes that she can prepare. At dinnertime, your child can play host, waiter and cook. Allow her to seat the family, take orders and prepare and serve the dishes.
Make a puzzle of the United States.
Purchase several colors of clay. Lay a map of the United States out on the table and place wax paper over it. Roll out clay over one state at a time, trace the shape of the state into the clay with a pencil, and then it cut out. Use a toothpick to write the name of the state. Use a different color of clay for each neighboring state. Then let the clay pieces dry, or bake according to instructions.
Play Thomas Edison.
Save old kitchen appliances, computers, VCRs and other electronics for discovery adventures! Give your child a supply of tools such as pliers, screwdrivers and safety glasses and let her go to work. Kids can learn a ton by examining the inner workings of different types of equipment. Cut the electrical cords, and supervise for sharp parts or mechanisms that could pinch fingers.
Film a Video.
Have children create several of their own TV commercials. They can use props and dress-up for the part. After rehearsing, set up a video camera to tape their production.
Toys Without Limits
Are you in need of toys that won’t quickly lose their appeal? Try some of these boredom busters:
Zoobs by Primordial.
Kids who enjoy Legos or building blocks will love Zoobs. Zoob units connect in more than 20 different ways, rotating and locking into hundreds of positions. There are endless possibilities to create, from dinosaurs and giant insects to a fighter jet or motorcycle. Find Zoobs at educational toy stores.
Psychology for Kids.
Free Spirit Publishing offers Psychology for Kids, Volumes I and II, geared toward kids 10 years and older. Each has 40 tests to help kids learn about their personality and behavior, as well as others. Lots of fun experiments and questionnaires can keep kids entertained for hours while learning about the scientific process and improving critical thinking skills. To order, call 800-735-7323.
Explore scientific principles with the award-winning Scientific Explorer kits. Available for a range of ages and including titles such as Ice Cream Science, Pet Doctor and Fizz, Bubble, Erupt., each features activities, experiments and worksheets for kids to track their findings. For product information, visit scientificexplorer.com.
Kimberly Blaker is a frelance writer and columnist.
Get Creative With Books
Global Art: Activities, Projects and Inventions from Around the World
By MaryAnn F. Kohl, Jean Potter (Gryphon House)
Learn abstract concepts of geography and culture through easy-to-do art activities such as collage, painting, drawing, printing, construction and sculpture. Step-by-step instructions and illustrations are given for each project.
The Incredible Secret Formula Book: Make Your Own Rock Candy, Jelly Snakes, Face Paint, Slimy Putty and 55 More Awesome Things
By Shar Levine (Troll Communications) Learn science inadvertantly with this book packed with great things to make with common, easy-to-find ingredients.
Kids Around the World Play! The Best Fun and Games from Many Lands
By Arlette N. Braman
(John Wiley and Sons)
Enjoy games and activities from countries including China, Japan, India, Mexico, Bolivia, Italy and Russia; the activities can be made or played with just a few simple materials found around the house.