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3 Affordable & Educational Summer Activities

By Clay Boggess on Jul 21, 2017
3 Affordable & Educational Summer Activities

Beat the heat and the boredom with these kid-friendly ideas

Summer vacation can be something of bait and switch. While parents and their children alike are doubtlessly ready for classes and crazy schedules to end, it seems that within two weeks, kids are inevitably going a little stir crazy. Once the video games are played, the pools are swam in, the beach trip made, and the sleepovers had, kids start itching for something new to do.

It’s important during the summer to keep your kids active physically and mentally, which might mean planning activities that will educate as well as entertain your students. However, as any parent knows, anything that feels like school can be a challenging sell to the young ones. Consider these three ideas to beat the summer doldrums.

Museum Kids Days

Most metro areas have some kind of science, history or technology museum. Unlike massive museums, like the Smithsonians, local museums are much more skewed toward attraction than education or preservation. Yet even famous national museums have caught on to the trend of making museum visits a highly interactive and engaging experience. Rather than avoid smart phones and tablets, museums are actively encouraging guests to add in a layer of technology to their visits for the richest experience yet.

Many local venues also have special “kids days,” where the museum team sets up themed activities that offer the chance to learn about one of the museum’s departments. Often accompanied by special rates or take home treats, these are great opportunities to get some knowledge in without the kids ever…well, knowing.

Do a simple Google search for ‘kids museums in my area.’ You might be surprised what your area offers, or what might be located just 30 minutes or an hour away. Consider that a longer drive home will give you a chance to debrief with your children about the experience and find out what they’ve learned. Ask questions like:

  • “You made a cool picture of the planets. What did you think was interesting about space?”
  • “Do you remember how old they said those fossils were?”

Questions like these help kids recall information in the short term, and initiate conversations about things that appealed to them. Of course, if it’s really fun, they might just pass out for a nap on the way back!

Techy Scavenger Hunts

Even the outdoors—seemingly endless in recreation—can get boring for kids during the summer. Introduce them to the millennial version of the scavenger hunt: Geocaching®.

Part hiking, part mapping and part treasure hunting, Geocaching is an engaging outdoor experience that has become extremely accessible in recent years. With simply a Google or iOS app, you can participate in this worldwide phenomenon.

Basically, containers or “caches” are hidden throughout the world. Tons of them. Usually, there’s something inside: a note, a picture, a doo-dad. When you find it, you collect what’s inside and leave something in its place. Kids will love the Indiana Jones-esque spirit of adventure behind Geocaching, and they’ll have a unique way to interact with their natural environment through technology. As an added bonus, Geocaching is designed to require some physical exertion, so you’ll keep them active on this treasure hunt.

Along the way, you can talk about:

  • The importance of keeping the natural environment healthy.
  • The honor system of geocaching—replacing what you find with something else.
  • Navigation, orientation and safety.

You can learn more about how to be a Geocaching pro on the official site.

{Callout: Want to make use of summertime to get a leg up on fundraising before fall rolls around? Take advantage of these fundraising prep strategies and get the kids involved with a good cause!}

Start a Mini Butterfly Garden

A butterfly garden is a bit of a longer-term project, but it’s a great way to teach kids about investing in and caring for something. It’s also an amazing activity to get hands-on with nature, biology and botany.

If you feel like you’ve seen less and less of those black, white and goldenrod butterflies, you’re not wrong. The monarch population has plummeted in this decade, and the beauty of the great monarch migration may not be here for posterity if the trend keeps up.

If you have a fully protected area outside, such as a screened in porch, go to your local nursery and ask for some milkweed plants with monarch eggs on them. Keep these in your enclosed area, and ensure there are plenty of leafy greens for the caterpillars to eat once they hatch. They’ll feed themselves on their own before finding a perch for their chrysalis.

In just a little while, monarchs will be aflutter. While you wait, spend some time reading a couple pages of the children’s classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. Make this a chance to talk about the incredible natural phenomenon of metamorphosis, and how hatching monarchs is helping a worldwide problem. Kids can be inspired to be a part of big things in small ways through fun summer projects like this.

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