Monday, March 16, 2009

Summer Vacation

Field Trips? During Summer Vacation?
by Mia Cronan

Don't let the fact that school's out deter you from doing some education things this summer. Learning can be fun!

Whew! The dog days of summer are here, and it's time to mosey on outdoors. But you can still hear the kids whining, "What can we doooo?" Well, there are several things you can do, if you feel like getting creative. Don't let the fact that school's out deter you from doing some education things this summer. Learning can be fun!

Go on a nature walk.

Pack a light back-pack with drinks, a snack, a clear jar and a lid for collecting fun things, a change of clothes for the kids (optional, if you'd rather travel light), and books on birds and trees, if you have them. Find a safe place to roam, whether it's a local park or your own backyard! Look at the trees, talk about the shapes of the leaves, how old you think the trees are, or maybe what each part of the tree does to keep it healthy. Watch some birds, and see if you can identify them. Talk about how they fly south for the winter. Examine bugs and collect a few to watch for a few days. Sit quietly and just listen to nature with your eyes closed. Look up at the sky and identify cloud shapes, tell each other of what they remind you. Enjoy your snack, pack up the back-pack, and tell your kids about your childhood summers during the walk home.

Hone those reading skills.

Why not make use of your local library? Make it a weekly trip, and let your kids each pick out 3-5 books. Visiting the library is a great way to teach children to care for things that they borrow and return them on time to the owner. Plus, making the transition back to school in the fall will be so much easier if they've made a habit of reading over the summer, especially if they're choosing their own books.

Do you have a nearby children's museum?

These are really growing in popularity, so chances are good that if your city doesn't have one, a neighboring city does. What a nice day trip for you and your crew! Museums are great learning environments because they combine fun activities with interesting facts, all geared toward kids' minds.

Learn about camping.

If you don't have a tent, find a big blanket and some lawn chairs. Put the chairs in a circle, place the blanket over the chairs, give your kids some "equipment" and let them have their own kind of fun right in your backyard.

For a break from the learning, how about some water fun?

Fill a bucket of water and give your kids paintbrushes. Tell them you'd like them to paint the driveway. They'll have a blast and stay cool at the same time. This is a lot of fun, and it helps your children "express" themselves without getting crayon on your walls! Don't forget the things that you did as a kid to pass the summer days, too. Did you jump in the sprinkler? Fill a tub with water and play with water toys?

Whatever you do, enjoy the time with your kids. As fast as time flies with kids, it always seems to go faster in the summer!