Summer vacation is here, and you’re starting your new part-time job as Kids’ Activities Director. Congratulations and condolences on the extra responsibilities. If summer camp isn’t an option and before you’ve run out of patience, projects-based learning can help your kids create, learn and discover their interests while fine tuning some of their real-world skills. We’ve gathered a few creative kids’ projects that will also encourage their independence. Shop with Ebates for Cash Back on these learning tools, and keep your kids engaged all summer long!
Explore the world with a nature journal
Give your kids the freedom to explore with a nature journal. You’ll be getting them out of the house with a purpose in mind. Show them nearby and accessible wooded areas, parks, gardens and waters that they can safely roam and discover with new focus. Even if it’s only your own backyard or some lonely tree, there are rocks to overturn and leaves to inspect. This journal makes your kids nature’s students.
Instead of always asking you what is happening today, put the responsibility back on your kids to come up with today’s plans. Give them blocks of time and let them brainstorm how to fill it. This will actually help kids who have a difficult time with the unknown and always want to know what’s next. For younger kids, the Melissa and Doug planner is perfect for schedule using visuals.
Kiwi Crates are well-thought-out science, art and other projects with easy to follow directions for 3 and up. My favorite are the science projects with robotic arms. The best part is that these come in the mail so the kids will have a reason to eagerly anticipate their arrival.
Most public libraries have a summer reading challenge where kids can earn prizes for keeping track of the books that they consume. Adults can sometimes join in, too. This will give you all an excuse to turn off your screens. If you’re traveling, many libraries let you log in and record your progress on-line, so you can participate from anywhere! Encourage your kids by creating a special reading area, with comfy chairs, cushions, fort area or a play tent. Even kids appreciate their alone time.
Kids are always excited when you let them loose in the kitchen. It’s their very own chemistry lab and taste of adulthood. Let them choose recipes from a simple kids cookbook like this one, plan for making it (maybe this will require a shopping trip), and execute their plan. As a twist, set up a camera so they can produce their own cooking show. They’ll love to have that memory for years to come. There are lots of kid-friendly videos online if they need demonstrations of recipes and techniques, to add an extra learning element.
Maybe they are too young to have a summer job, but kids can volunteer their hard work in a project to benefit the community. Give them the task of looking for a need, and coming up with a project to address that need. Start in your own neighborhood. Is there someone around who needs gardening help? Dog walking? Mother’s helper? Whatever they find, investing in service will help them to connect with others.
Especially after a long school year of scheduled classes and responsibilities, giving your kids a voice through projects build their confidence and interests. You’ll be able to watch them grow and they’ll still be able to answer the question, “What did you do today?” at the dinner table. If you need to supply them with the materials to get their project on this summer, shop with Ebates to earn Cash Back on every purchase.
What are your kids’ favorite summer projects? Tell us in the comments below!
Mariko is a high school English teacher who has three children, illegible handwriting and an obsession with mail-order artisan ice cream. She lives in Hawaii, but she makes a point to eat her way through big cities as often as she can.