Amid the coronavirus pandemic, school closings became part of our ‘new norm,’ elevating parents to shoulder the responsibility of their children’s education. And now, with summer upon us and the cancellation of several camps, parents are finding themselves gathering resources to plan at-home summer activities.
If this sounds familiar and you’re now the activities counselor for your family, consider focusing your summer fun on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math)-based pursuits. According to the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, education utilizing STEAM can positively impact future school success and naturally occurs when children explore, play and discover new experiences.
To get your summer off to a great start, here are 10 fun, engaging and educational ideas.
- Explore your backyard and neighborhood with a nature-themed scavenger hunt. Create a card with a variety of different items to observe, such as butterflies, ants, spider webs and animal tracks, and set out to enjoy the great outdoors.
- Set up an at-home science fair by conducting your own safe experiments. A simple example is to demonstrate how water and oil don’t mix. Gather a clear glass, vegetable oil, water and food coloring and mix to see the separation. For added excitement, drop in an antacid tablet and discover some bubbly fun.
- Schedule virtual playdates for your children to engage with friends. While activities that draw kids away from the screen to the outdoors are encouraged, physical distancing has caused many children to miss interacting with their classmates and friends. This is a great opportunity for your child to share ideas and further develop their conversational skills with others.
- Encourage the use of smartphones or tablets for filmmaking. Work with your child to develop a storyline and have them film and edit their own movie. For added value, schedule an at-home movie premiere for your entire family.
- Turn your boxes into cardboard creations that stretch as far as your child’s imagination. Whether it’s a fort, house, car or airplane, have your child draw up plans to include measurements, colors and specifics. Once he or she is satisfied with their design, work together to bring their creation to life.
- Set up a backyard obstacle course with hula hoops, jump ropes, balls and cones. Let your child design the layout and encourage your family to compete for the best course time.
- Stretch your child’s artistic skills by enhancing their use of sidewalk chalk. Color a thick line on the ground and mix in water. Next, grab a paintbrush and invite your child to create colorful pictures and inspirational messages for all to see.
- Have a child who likes to dance? Encourage him or her to choreograph a routine and teach it to your family. Then, post your family’s dance moves on social media and challenge others to follow suit.
- Set up an at-home grocery store with items from your pantry and use play money to help teach the value of spending. Allow your children to participate as both the clerk and shopper to experience the exchange of money from both perspectives.
- Invite your child to assist with baking cookies in order to grasp the concept of measurements within a recipe. If planning to use geometric cookie cutters, have your child identify the shapes.
And finally, remember that your child may experience moments of sadness due to his or her summer camp plans being cancelled. Take time to listen to your child, incorporate fun games from past camp experiences and simply enjoy making new summer memories together.