10 excellent things to do with your kids this summer

When school is out, most families have a list of things to get done. There are vacations, family reunions, home-improvement projects and maybe a garden. The "busyness" of family life doesn't seem to slow down during this break between school years.

At the end of the summer, some might look back and wish they had spent some more time just being with the kids and doing things together with them. Here are a few cheap and easy ideas to make time for the kids and keep them from spending too much time vegging out in front of an endless stream of reruns.
  1. Read a book with your children The most effective thing a parent can do to make sure that children learn to read is to be seen reading in the home. The second most important thing is to read daily to your child. Even beyond the preschool or kindergarten years, it is important to continue reading aloud in order to further develop essential skills with more challenging reading material.
    When you read aloud you can read books at your child's listening level, which is higher than his or her reading level. Hearing more complex material and listening to the expression and enthusiasm in a parent's voice develops an interest in print and its possibilities. The local library is a free source of good books and some great children's reading hour activities. Most public libraries have a story hour for the preschoolers and a reading contest going on for the school aged kids during the summer.
  2. Plant a plant in a flower pot or as part of a garden A plant is a practical, easy science lesson. The roots go down and the green part goes up every time. If the plant gets water and sunlight, it grows. If the plant gets bugs or knocked over, it dies.
    One of the best ways to get children interested in eating their vegetables is to get them to see where vegetables come from. Most families have a porch, balcony or sunny window to have at least one plant growing for the summer. At the end of the summer, prepare something tasty with all of the cherry tomatoes or zucchini the plant produced.
  3. Go for a walk with the kids As a nation, our children are getting heavier at earlier ages. Most adults also have a difficult time making exercise a priority. Walking for 30 minutes, three times a week can produce health benefits. It requires no special equipment and no preparation.
    On the walk, there doesn't have to be any other goal that to just get outdoors. If great things cross your path, take advantage of them. If the preschooler wants to stop and look at the ants, that's another learning opportunity.
  4. Make time for a PB&J picnic A peanut butter and jelly sandwich eaten on a blanket in the backyard is gourmet food for kids. Take time to look up at the sky and watch the clouds. Feed the crusts to the birds. Take a picture of the gooey faces to put on the refrigerator.
    It's noisy, messy and might involve some stains, but your kids will think it's amazing.
  5. Take pictures of the fun Photographs are short, easy records of one’s life. People often wait for some monumental occasion to take pictures. A disposable camera in the baby bag or in the glove box of the car is handy for the everyday moments that touch hearts.
    This summer, take time to photograph the everyday moments. A scrapbook or journal is a great project for children in the third grade or beyond. It doesn't have to have elaborate clip art or be crafting masterpiece to tell the story of your children and their adventures. If it's recorded in their own words and with their own handwriting, so much the better.
  6. Make cookies together A mix is fine, but for the really brave parent, make them from scratch. It's messy, and it's sometimes stressful, but making cookies is also an incredibly handy reading and science lesson.
    If cookies turn out right, it's because the directions were followed, the ingredients were measured correctly and the kids all worked together to produce something. Lots of interesting concepts are taught in a practical setting. The chocolate chips are just a bonus.

  7. Go out and fly a kite A kite from the dollar store equals an hour or two of fun and learning. In order to get a kite to fly right, follow the simple directions, communicate with others and have a little patience.
    Kites generally require working together with an adult or sibling to get up and flying well. The first attempt usually crashes and sometimes it requires starting over. Success comes to those who persist and that's an OK thing to learn.
    Remember to take a few pictures of the adventure.
  8. Blow bubbles with the whole gang Bubbles are another dollar store find that are well worth it. Challenge them to blow bubbles that are bigger or smaller. Find out what it takes to blow a bubble inside of a bubble, and which child can blow the most bubbles and keep them floating at the same time.
    Bubble success will be better on overcast days. Humidity makes for nicer bubbles too. Stick to the shade if possible.
  9. Create a masterpiece on the driveway The more opportunities that young children have to draw, write and create, the better they become at it. Large pieces of sidewalk chalk are easy for young hands to hold and control. They can write in really big letters on an easily washable surface. The driveway can become a garden covered in flowers or a rocket ship to the moon depending on the mood of the artist.
  10. Play with the groceries There are so many things that young children do with boxes and cans. When given an opportunity, most of them will stack them and sort them. Parents can take advantage of this and encourage some early math skills at the same time.What cans hold vegetables? What cans hold fruit? Which cans are bigger, smaller or heavier?
    For the upper elementary-age kids, they should be learning about following directions, serving sizes and nutrition. Talk with them about why the big box of sugary cereal isn't the same as the oatmeal packets for breakfast. Talk about why people need fruits and veggies as well as cheese and peanut butter. They will hear this stuff at school, but during the summer, parents have the opportunity to make sure it has real-life application in the home as well.
During the summer break parents can really boost learning for their kids. Children can apply the lessons they have learned to real activities in the home. It doesn't take a lot of cash or a lot of time and study to have some valuable learning experiences at home. Spending time with the kids doing something together is the most important experience of all.

Source : http://www.ksl.com/?nid=968&sid=15466319&title=10-excellent-things-to-do-with-your-kids-this-summer

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