3 Ideas for Keeping Children Physically and Mentally Stimulated Over Summer

Kids love the summer because it is fun and relaxing with beautiful weather, and of course, there is no school.  However, after a couple of months of relaxation, some kids may find it hard to get back into the physical and mental demands of school when fall comes around.  Here are three fun and educational suggestions that may work to keep your kids physically and mentally engaged throughout the summer.

Walk/Run a 5k
Note:  Only a doctor can tell you what type of exercise is right for you or your child.  You should consult with a doctor before starting this or any other exercise.

In many areas, especially more urban ones, there are numerous 5k walk/runs over the course of the summer.   With a doctor’s approval, running a 5k together with your child can be a great way for both of you to learn about setting goals, raising money for charities, and staying in shape. You can sit down with your children to discuss what each 5k supports.  This way you can educate them about medical, social and other issues and help them decide which causes are important to them.

Once they have decided on a race, you can work together to come up with a goal for how quickly both of you would like to finish, along with a training regiment to reach it.  Then, during the summer, the two of you can go for runs around the park, local track, or just in your neighborhood while you train.  This may help both of you get in shape to complete the 5k in your target time while bonding and staying in shape through the summer.

Learn about Local Insects
Summer can be one of the best times to learn about local wildlife.  Insects are easy to find no matter where you live, so searching for and observing them can be a great way to learn more about biology.  A simple way to catch insects (without even needing to touch them) is by making a suction-powered bug catcher.  To create one of these, you will need the following materials:

  • two plastic straws (wider ones are better, so try to get thick ones, like those used for milkshakes)
  • a small, clear plastic container (the kind they give out at supermarket delis works great)
  • nylon mesh or a cheesecloth
  • scissors
  • a rubber band
  • tape

To build the bug catcher:

  •  help your child poke two holes on opposite sides of the plastic container just a little smaller than the straws.
  • push the first straw through one of the holes so it sticks about an inch into the container. Put tape around the hole that the straw feeds through so the seal will be airtight.
  • cover the opening on the end of the straw that sticks into the container with a piece of nylon mesh or cheesecloth and secure the fabric with the rubber band.
  • place the other straw through the other hole, tape it so it is airtight, and put the lid on the container.

By sucking on the straw with the mesh over it and placing the other straw near insects, your child can collect insects without ever touching them – just make sure to go over which kinds are safe and which may bite or sting so your child can avoid them.

Once the bug catcher is set up, you and your child can hike, walk around the parks, or even just romp around in the backyard looking for insects and getting some light exercise.  After some insects have been caught in the container, you and your child can observe them with a magnifying glass and then use a field guide or the internet to identify them.  By noting data such as where each species was caught, what it was doing before being trapped, and the time of day it was found, your child can keep track of his discoveries all summer.  He can also plot the location and type of insect on a map of the area where he has scouted for the critters.  This way he can learn all about the insects and their natural habitats and how to think like a scientist. Whenever releasing insects out of the trap, make sure that they are carefully set free in the same location where you caught them.

Host Egg-Catch Competitions
In an egg-catch competition, the goal is for participants to drop an egg from a given height so that it safely lands without cracking on top of or inside a home-made device.  This is a great summer activity because friends can get involved, and the rules and height can keep changing, so it can accommodate any skill level and will be different each time.

Start the bare egg-drop competition easily, for example, by dropping the eggs from a height of 5 feet onto whatever catcher your child and their friends create.  Then next time, you can raise the height and/or only allow certain materials to construct the catcher, such as 12 straws, one foot of tape, and 12 sheets of paper.  As your children learn more and more about what materials and designs will help protect the eggs, you can continue increasing the height or adding extra rules to make it more challenging.  This project can be a great way for your child to learn about physics, engineering, and coming up with creative ways of problem solving.  Once he returns to school, he may even be able to present his egg catchers to the class for extra credit.

With all of the extra time to bond and relax, many families love the summer.  However, ensuring that your child is keeping active and alert can be difficult.  Fortunately, with charity races, bug catchers, egg drops and more, you can help to keep your child’s body and mind engaged even when he is not in school.

by Ryan
Ryan enjoys helping families learn and stay active. In addition to collecting bunny slippers and footed pajamas, he helps with marketing for www.CrazyforBargains.com

 

If you found this article helpful, click here to make a donation to The Center for Parenting Education. Your support will enable us to continue to provide quality information free of charge.

 

<return to top of page

<additional articles about Places to Go/Things to Do throughout the Year

<Library of Articles topic page