With schools across the country finishing out an unprecedented year of remote learning, it's time to set our sights on continuing education over the summer. Many parents struggled to find a happy and effective method of homeschooling on such short notice, so we don't blame you if you're excited to be putting away worksheets and answer keys until next year!
Today, we're focusing on summer activities that you can do with your kids to keep learning while school is out of session. Put the grades away and focus on learning through play -- summer's finally here!
Get your hands dirty.
Tactile stimulation is one of the best ways for toddlers and young children to learn about the world around them. Playing with things like sand, dirt, Play-Doh, and water toys help your kids start to understand the basics of physics, even if they don't know what fancy terms like "gravity" and "resistance" mean yet.
This summer, try out a tactile play experience by filling a kiddie pool with sand and encouraging your kids to experiment. Don't have sand or a pool, grab some dirt and water for making mud pies. https://rhythmsofplay.com/mud-pie-nature-art-sensory-activity/
Go on a science scavenger hunt.
Encourage exploration with your thinking caps on! Set up a scavenger hunt that gets kids on their feet and exploring, both inside and outside the house. Make a list of items to find and identify, like local birds, plants you might find in your backyard, and items that match the colors of the rainbow. Where possible, encourage your kids to explore the science behind what they're looking for: for example, if they're trying to find an oak tree, ask them to identify which part of the tree might turn into a sapling someday. (Hint: you might find it on the ground!) You can also practice your letters and sounds by finding things in nature that start or end with a particular letter or rhymes with another word.
Dressing up, using our imaginations, and pretending to be someone else is a great way to keep brains moving while having an awful lot of fun. Encourage your kids to dress up as people from various careers, like doctors, firefighters, lawyers, and more. Ask them to act out a typical day on the job in their pretend career, and use this as a learning opportunity to teach kids about things like responsibility, time management, and even keeping track of money!
Have an outdoor adventure.
Nature is the world's best teacher. Even your first summer beach day can turn into a fascinating learning opportunity! Explore tide pools to find aquatic creatures. Learn more about the moon's relation to the ocean in forming tides, and how to tell when the tide is going out versus coming in. Figure out which toys float, and which are likely to sink (but make sure you have a good hold on anything you don't want the fish to play with!).
Explore the magic behind cooking science.
Cooking is fascinating because of all the scientific properties that go into it: chemical reactions and the basics of biology show up in our favorite recipes! If you don't want to get messy, pretend cooking can be just as fun, as you encourage your children to come up with clever and creative recipes with ingredients we wouldn't normally find in our local grocery store. Dragon burger, anyone?
The school year may be over, but the season of learning doesn't have to be. Trade your worksheets for thinking caps and strap on your sneakers -- it's time to explore learning through play!