Summer vacation is upon us, but this year looks a little bit different. As camps across the country announce virtual camps or a modified summer, and public pools state that they will not be opened, parents are left to find activities to entertain their children while staying cool (both mentally, and physically).
I am a firm believer in summer fun. This is a time for children to pull back from rigorous academics–or in the case of this year, screens–and focus on developing play skills. These are the problem solving skills that will have the greatest impact on our future, according to this article and the reason why so many schools have focused on developing SEL (socioemotional learning) programs for their students.
So, as a parent, how can you ensure that your child has fun, stays cool, and continues learning this summer? It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
1.Ice Digs: These activities provide endless fun for child
ren as young as 2 years old. To set up the activity, get a large ice cube mold and place a small plastic toy in each mold. Fill with water and set in the freezer. You can pop out the cubes and place in a small plastic container. Now comes the fun part: your child has to try to get the toys out of the ice. You can provide a squirt bottle or a small cup of water to assist your child with his excavation, depending on how long you would like the activity to take (the squirt bottle method will take much longer). Afterwards, you can play along with your child using the creatures you have freed from the ice.
2. The Wet Towel Experiment: There is something about water that is very exciting for children. In this activity, you can go beyond the water gun fights or water tables to see the different properties of water. Provide your child with a notebook and pencil to take notes like a real scientist. Then, take a wash-cloth sized towel to dip in water and one that is not dipped in water. Place the towels one on each arm. Have your child compare and contrast what happened with each towel. As you wait, the water will begin to evaporate. Discuss this concept with your child and question by asking “why do you think that happened?”
3. Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts: Over the past few months, we have spent a lot of time in and around our homes. Help your child to create a scavenger hunt checklist to look more closely at the things you can find all around you. Summer may bring different plants, trees, or animals to your environment, so now is the time to point them out. You can create the list using pictures, if your child does not yet read, or words. Make sure to give your child a marker to check off the items he found, to make it official. As an added bonus, you could even use a Polaroid camera to snap pictures of the objects you found on the way.
This summer, don’t complicate things. It is not a time to stress about all of the unknowns, but rather a time to enjoy your family and your surroundings. By setting up a few simple activities and adding them to your weekly routine, you’ll be sure to have a good time.
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