As summer wanes, enhance kids’ activities

As summer winds down, kids may be
getting bored in the few weeks left before school starts. Why not jump-start
their enthusiasm with some time-tested activities they’re sure to enjoy?

1. The lemonade stand

On a hot day, everybody loves
lemonade — and lemonade stands. That old-time activity is actually a terrific
opportunity for children to learn math and science skills (by measuring and
mixing the lemonade) as well as social skills (when they interact with customers).

Start by talking with your children
about what they’ll need — lemonade, a table and chairs, paper cups, decorations
for the stand, a sign announcing the price, and a box to keep the money in.
Where would be a good place to set up the stand? How much will she charge for
each cup of lemonade? When it’s time to make the lemonade, help her measure 4
tablespoons of lemon juice, 8 tablespoons of white grape juice, and 6 cups of
water into a large plastic pitcher. Stir and chill. Outdoors, help the kids set
up the stand and hang the sign. Demonstrate how to greet customers, pour, and
serve the lemonade (if necessary, pour the lemonade into smaller pitchers to
make it easier for your child to handle), and make change. When the big event
is over, talk with her about what they’d like to do with the money she earned!

2. The alphabet garden

Any kind of gardening is a great
way for kids to learn the science of how things grow. Planting a theme garden
can make the learning experience even more fun.

One favourite is an ABC garden.
Together with your child, look through seed catalogues or garden centres to
choose what you’ll plant — one variety for each letter of the alphabet. When
you create your garden, have your child make a tag for each plant or paint the
plant name on a rock with enamel paint. To make the project as rewarding as
possible for your child, you’ll want to steer him toward plants that are hardy
and grow quickly in your area. Some of the most reliable vegetables and flowers
are bush beans, cherry tomatoes, herbs, and marigolds. Choose vegetables or flowers
that start with letters that spell out your child’s name or initials, and plant
them in a window box.

3. Local tours

How do doughnuts get their holes?
What happens at the post office? What about local birds, plant life and marine
animals? You and your child can discover the answers by going behind the scenes
at a doughnut shop, post office, or learning centre.

Just ask your local proprietors.
They may be willing to allow chaperoned children to pay a visit and see all
that goes on in their busy workplace. Before the trip, talk with your child
about where you’re going and what questions he’d like to ask when you get
there. Write them down and bring them with you for reference. Take lots of
photos of your trip, and help him put them in his summer scrapbook.

4. Dramatic endeavours

Two important areas of the early
childhood curriculum — literacy and dramatic play — come together when children
act out their favourite stories.

Give yourselves at least a week to
put together a complete performance. First, invite your child to choose a story
or encourage him to work with you to write his own story or play. After that,
he can assign roles to siblings, cousins, or friends who want to get in on the
act. Help the children rehearse their lines, design the sets, create the
costumes, write up a playbill, and hand out tickets. Then raise the curtain and
let the play begin! If kids have fun with this idea, next time you might suggest
a concert or a magic show.

5. Summer experiments

There’s no shortage of scientific
topics to investigate during the summer. Here are a few ideas:

Capture bugs in a clear plastic
jar. Poke air holes in the top. Encourage your child to observe the insects
carefully. Talk together about how them. After a day or two, release the insects

Make wind chimes with aluminium
cans, plastic bottles, and string. Compare the sounds the different containers

Place an ice tray in the sun and
another in the shade. Compare how long it takes the ice in each tray to melt.

Add different colours of food dye
to crushed ice. Notice how the colours mix to create new ones.

To make the experiments an even
richer learning experience, encourage your child to read books, draw pictures,
or write a story about the topic you’re investigating.

6. Beach collections

Why not add learning to your
seaside adventures? Before you go, check your local library for books about
fish, waves, boats, or other water-related topics. Read them together and bring
them along to read again in the car or under your beach umbrella.

When you get there, encourage your
child to search for treasures along the shore. Hunting for rocks and shells can
take a whole afternoon. Sort and classify the treasures by colour, size, shape,
or other category of your child’s choice.

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