(THIS IS A COLLABORATIVE POST WITH LITERATI BOOK CLUB, OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
While there are many things I love about summer, the challenge of finding educational summer activities is NOT one of them. Having school aged kids only increases that pressure. We don’t want them to be behind what others their age are learning, nor do we want them getting too comfortable with the lack of mental stimulation that summer tends to bring.
Consider Educational Activities that will Keep Your Children Active During Summer
My kids are still pretty young, and I know that the best thing I can do for my kids is to cultivate a love of learning. For preschool age kids (and younger) – the MOST important thing for them to “learn” is to have fun while learning.
I wanted to share some of MY favorite educational summer activity ideas to hopefully help other moms provide meaningful and educational experiences.
Join a Good Comprehensive Book Club for Children
Along that same vein – the most beneficial thing you can to prepare your child for reading is to read to them.
It’s something we’ve all heard before and all want to be better at doing – but it’s much more difficult in practice.
It sometimes feels impossible to squeeze it in alongside appointments and meals, but even more complicated is the process in FINDING a good book – one that will grab their attention, without making you want to hide the book after reading it for the first time because it was terrible. (I think we’ve all been there with that book – it’s not a fun mistake to make more than once, but finding a good book is a difficult and time consuming process.)
The Literati book club totally solves this problem!
It’s a cheap monthly book subscription for kids – it costs a little under ten bucks a month.
They’ll send you five age appropriate books based on the month’s theme (think things like kindness, bravery etc), and they’ll give you a full week to TRY THEM OUT and decide whether or not to keep them.
They’re books that are handpicked by adults who are motivated by making reading fun for both you and your kiddo, so you aren’t going to get a lot of duds in these boxes.
But either way, you can spend the entire week reading books to your kids, and then send back the ones you don’t want to keep (which could be ALL of them if you don’t want to keep any of them). You only pay for the ones you keep, and you’ll be paying the same price for them (or less) that you’d pay on Amazon.
We got our first box a few weeks ago and have since read all of the books they sent us.
(Our box also included a poster and 6 “this book belongs to” stickers – we didn’t use those right away since we wanted to check out the books and decide if we would keep them first!)
My kids LOVED being able to have new books to read, and it was a nice way to spend quality time together.
Of the five books, we had 4 that we liked a lot. One titled “The Ultimate Book of Cities” is one I may not have stopped to consider before, but it ended up being my son’s ABSOLUTE FAVORITE.
It was a better version of a pop-up book, with small notches and windows into different parts of a “city” that demonstrated the way things work. It was a book that could entertain him for hours – and it was definitely educational.
They also sent an alphabet book (PERFECT for my kiddos), it touts itself as NOT another “boring” alphabet book – it’s a fun mystery story mixed in with letter learning.
A third book with cartoon fish graphics told a story about “shy fish”, and along with the fun graphics was an important lesson in understanding kids who are shy.
The fourth one that we enjoyed was a book introducing kids to the idea of school, while still being entertaining.
There was NOTHING wrong with the fifth book – but it was one that was outside of my kid’s understanding of the world. I do believe that it included some beneficial lessons for kids and could be appropriate for some kids that are the same age as mine – depending on their life experiences. All kids learn a little differently and I think this is a lesson my kids will understand better in a couple of years.
Over all, the quality of the books we received in our first box was excellent!
That said, it’s so nice to have the option to return the books you don’t want at this time (after trying them out)!
The cherry on top might be that the kids get REALLY excited about the books – it is a BLAST for my kids to get “mail” – so they are already looking forward to their next box of books.
Take the Time to Visit National Parks Near You
Whether you live near a national park or must take a bit of a drive, there are BOUNDLESS educational opportunities (as well as lot of fun) in driving to and staying in a national park.
These beautiful and unsullied lands are generally protected by the government and allow access to the most untamed wilderness our world has to offer. If you don’t have the means to visit one in person, there are more and more opportunities for a virtual visit (including virtual reality or online tours).
1. Choose a national park to visit.
2. Review all the things that can be learned about the national parks. Share this process or the results of your quest for information with your kiddos—they can feel involved in planning your trip and can be directly involved in the decision-making process of where you stay and what you do, as well as learning what must be taken into consideration when planning and going on a long vacation.
3. Plan for (and maybe even let them earn some of the money to take) the trip.
4. During the trip, consistently refer back to their plans and reward their involvement. Help them see the positive consequence of the work they put into learning about and helping to plan for this trip, which is sure to be one of their most memorable family vacations ever.
Fill Your Children’s Summer with Purposeful Roles
Give each member of your family a special task or role to perform for the duration of the summer break. This can be during a trip or throughout the entire summer. One of the best trips a friend of mine remembered was a trip to the Uinta mountains in Utah, USA. He was a young child at the time and was tasked with taking care of the first aid kit for the week-long trip. Luckily, no one needed first aid since he was only nine, but he took the time to read the manual included in the kit and felt incredibly special the entire trip. It made him want to become a doctor.
If you give kiddos a thoughtful and interesting role to perform, you will be surprised at how deeply they invest themselves into the functions of that role. Even if it’s something they’d usually consider work or chores, they will take to it handily if you ensure that they understand that it’s an important role that you are granting to them, and not just something you are burdening them with to fill the time or get something extra done.
Some ideas may be helping to plan or assist an older sibling with a small construction project or redesign of the home décor, planning a whole-house repaint or reinventing the way that chores are distributed. For smaller kids, you certainly don’t have to actually leave them to this task alone or allow their direction to be the end-all or gospel truth. But giving them a chance to feel involved and to actually contribute, however small the contribution, will give them a lasting purpose throughout the break and one that might even encourage them to practice or develop new skills. It could even start them on an early career path. Do I hear “doctor” in anyone’s future?
Convert Your Children’s Spaces into Fiction Settings
Find ways to correlate their favorite fictional characters into their daily lives. Find out who they like to watch on television or who they like to hear about in their favorite books and find ways to fill their lives with parallels and references from this pop-culture connection.
Gradually convert their bathroom into a themed motif. Gradually create and introduce themed artwork into their bedroom décor. If you want to take this even further, you can start planning and decorating a play room built on the concepts from the fictional world.
The important component of this is that you allow the projects to be powered by their imagination, if not made by their own hands 100% of the time. If they like Harry Potter, discuss and take notes of things while watching the movies that make the setting believable and invent ways to add those elements into your home. If they love a particular Disney princess, work through the movie and supplemental content (picture books, gold spine Disney stories, coloring books and online media) and work together to envision and create themed materials that convert their world into that princess’s life.
In Review: Filling Your Children’s Summer Break with Educational Activities
Whether you take easily to the ideas that require more crafting or take the time to invest in a subscription to keep those kiddos SWIMMING in books, you’ll do amazing things keeping your children engaged and learning every day. It doesn’t take money or distance or insane amounts of efforts to remind them that learning can be fun.
Start small and focus on the fun. Remember that every moment is a teaching moment if you are PAYING ATTENTION. If you allow yourself to get on the ground and get involved with your kids, the ideas will literally drop into your lap.
And if you don’t have time to get on your knees all that often, you certainly have a few great ideas to get you started in keeping the children busy with educational activities for inside and outside the home during summer break.