Get ready for summer learning!
As hard as it can be to believe, we are in the home stretch of another school year. With the school year ending and another summer stretching before us, many parents worry about the dreaded "summer slide," when all of the learning our kids did from September to June suddenly seems to fall away once the lazy days of summer take root. This is a common problem among school-age kids, but what's the answer? The way I see it, you have two options:
1. You can subject your kids to daily "homework" assignments, making them practice their multiplication and spelling words daily so they don't forget what they learned, or
2. You can make summer learning fun!
If you ask me, option #2 is a much better choice, both for the enjoyment of the kiddos and for the sanity of the parents. So, how do you actually go about stimulating your child to keep learning throughout the summer without making it drudgery?
I have two suggestions. First, let kids explore! Few things are better teachers in life than a passionate curiosity. Let your kids get outside, get in touch with nature, learn about new plants and animals (why not schedule a trip to the zoo or a local botanical garden? Does your child need to work on his printing? Let him choose a postcard and write a note to grandma! There are learning opportunities everywhere!
Second, stock your home library with the kinds of books that inspire investigation and exploration! The titles you choose should be dictated by the subjects your children are most interested in. Here's a look at some of the titles we'll be exploring this summer:
This book offers up exactly what the title promises: 101 awesome science-related projects that will stir up the curiosity of any kiddo. Divided into 11 different science subject areas (such as Sound and Music, Growth, Color, and Light) the projects feature step-by-step instructions and easy-to-follow illustrations. There are lots of choices for experience that parents and kids can do together and others that are more suited to kids taking the lead and performing the experiments on their own. From creating a volcano to building a magnetic car, this book is chock-full of fun experiments that will keep kids engaged and learning all summer long.
Maker Lab includes 28 kid-friendly projects perfectly suited for young inventors. The book lays out each project in a step-by-step way, making each of them perfect for kids between the ages of about 8 to 12 to complete. Even better, because the projects utilize common household items, there's no need to make a special trip for pricey or obscure materials.
Construct a solar system
Create a battery out of a leon
Race balloon rockets
More than just a how-to for creating these experiments, this awesome volume includes context and further information so your little inventors can learn why and how the experiments work the way they do. Don't wait for the school science fair to create opportunities for scientific exploration! Summer learning is fun and engaging with the help of Smithsonian Maker Lab.
Bring the book to life: If you have a science centre or children's museum near you, take a day trip! Doing so will bring these scientific concepts to life in a fun, interactive way that will ignite your child's imagination as they learn about the scientific concepts explore in the book.
If you have a little art lover in your home, The Art Book is the perfect addition to your summer exploration bookshelf. From prehistoric art through to the modern age, this book explores art history and theory in easy-to-understand language. Punctuated by TONS of pictures of famous works of art from history's best-known artists, this is the perfect introduction to the world of art.
Bring the book to life: Once you explore the book and spark an interest in art, take the family to a local gallery to explore art in a more hands-on way. Bring along a sketchbook and let your kiddos draw their take on what they see.
If your kids love paper and crafting, this is an awesome book to add to your summer learning bookshelf! Although maybe not as academic as the other books in this post, Paper Craft offers a multitude of ways to play with paper. Inside this book are instructions for 50 projects, including cards, gift wrap, paper flowers, mobiles, and so much more! Kids can learn how to follow instructions, how to express their creativity, to feel pride in completing a project and more, all while having fun! Included in the book are templates to trace and use over and over again, making the projects easy to complete. (Don't worry, I won't tell if you decide to try your own hand at these activities, too!)
Bring the book to life: Teach your kids the value of giving a homemade gift! In the book, you'll ifnd instructions on how to make quilled paper earrings, a papercut lantern, and more. Plus, kids can make a gift box, homemade paper, and a gift tag to wrap up the gift in a one-of-a-kind gift from the heart! (If they get started now, they can even make a special gift for their teacher for the end of the year!)
The Amazing Earth Quiz Book features 60 interesting, entertaining quizzes about the natural world. Kids can explore questions like, "Which country experiences the most earthquakes?" and "Which musical featured the song "Measured from base to peak, which is the world's tallest mountain?" The quizzes are divided into three difficulty levels -- easy, medium, and hard -- so the entire family can get in on the act! From middle schoolers to mom and dad, The Amazing Earth Quiz book is full of quizzes to keep everyone guessing, learning, and having fun along the way.
Utterly Amazing Earth offers an interactive way to learn about the natural world through flaps, popups and other interactive elements that make exploring the world fun. Take a look inside the earth, dive deep into the ocean, learn about extreme weather, and more!
Bring the books to life: Again, a science centre would be an ideal field trip to explore the concepts from these books, as would a planetarium. Check with your local university, too -- sometimes they have programs that allow yound budding scientists to check out their telescopes and other cool science-y stuff.
There you have it: several suggestions for books to kickstart your summer learning library. The key to successful summer learning is to make it interesting and fun and to inspire creativity and a sense of exploration. Your kids may not even realize that they are learning along the way!
All of these books were provided to me by the publisher free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own.