Learning in Disguise: 10 Kid-Approved Activities

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Learning in Disguise: 10 Kid-Approved Activities
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While you and your children may be looking forward to swimming, games, and outdoor activities this summer, it’s easy to forget that learning doesn’t stop when the sun is shining. Don’t let your child forget the academic lessons from the school year. Instead, find ways to incorporate learning into the family’s summer plans with educational field trips and at-home experiments that disguise learning. “Don’t make it a learning activity,” says Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, science educator and founder of Storefront Science. “Instead, make it an adventure.”

Teaching Travel
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Teaching Travel

Rather than thinking about activities as lessons, parents should engage their children in critical discussion when they're out and about, says Ardizzone. When traveling, have your child be in charge of the map and ask them about directions, how the streets are laid out, and what the keys or legends mean. A simple walk can also be an educational journey. Ardizzone suggests asking your child to plot a walking tour and calculate distances. Older children can also convert miles to kilometers when planning a trip.

Calculated Cooking
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Calculated Cooking

Cooking a summertime meal can also create an opportunity for learning. Engage your children in cooking and have them do the measurements, both in English and metric, suggests Ardizzone. Beyond teaching measurements and conversions, you can also use this opportunity to teach your child about food values and origins. “Ask them about the ingredients used and where they are grown,” says Ardizzone. “You can also discuss why certain foods are cooked together and what value each of them provides for us in terms of proteins, carbs, fats and vitamins.”

Journal Journeys
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Journal Journeys

So many times, summer just slips away quickly. Work with your child to preserve her memories while journaling how she spent her time. “Encourage them to record what they do each week and turn their adventures into stories,” says Ardizzone. “This will ensure that any new skills they learned, especially in reading, writing, math and communication in general will remain alive and well into September.”

Farming for Facts
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Farming for Facts

Teach your children about healthy eating by taking a field trip to a farmer's market to learn about vegetables. Little ones can identify colors of fruits and vegetables, while older children can research the origin of these healthy foods online or at the library, says Dr. Ashley Norris, assistant dean at the University of Phoenix’s College of Education. “Then have your child create a presentation about what he learned,” she says. It may even prompt him to want to plant his own garden.

Musical Musings
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Musical Musings

Whether your child likes rock ‘n’ roll or country music, attending a concert in the park or within the community can prove to be an entertaining trip and a lesson in disguise. “Inspire children to research and explore different types of music or the history of a specific instrument,” says Norris. If his interest is piqued, inquire about music lessons with local musicians.

Social Giving
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Social Giving

Giving back to the community can offer your child much more than a learning experience this summer. Lending a helping hand at a local animal shelter or serving meals at a food pantry doesn’t have to be “work.” Allow him to get creative by implementing a project or event within the community, such as a recycling project. “These activities provide social opportunities if other children are engaged in the project,” says Norris.

Fun with Fractions
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Fun with Fractions

Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities by engaging your children in writing, reading and math with a purpose, says Norris. “They need to understand the real world applications of their studies,” she says. Have your child assist you with making grocery lists, counting money and determining restaurant tips. By calculating sale prices during a routine shopping trip, your child is refreshing his skills with fractions.

Digital Storytelling
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Digital Storytelling

Embrace technology and get your child engaged in learning by creating interactive projects and activities, says Norris. Using computer-based tools, such as video, photos and text, encourage your child to create movies and photo slideshows to share with friends and classmates at the beginning of the school year. “Your children can even use family photos and videos to tell a story about summer activities,” says Norris.

Timely Tasks
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Timely Tasks

“Contrary to popular belief, math, learning and fun can all be used in the same sentence,” says Darla Arni, Missouri-based speaker and author of “Full Plate No Fork.” Arni suggests making a model clock out of a paper plate, construction paper and stick on numbers as a craft project. Refer to the clock several times during the day, pointing out breakfast time, lunch time, nap and story time, she says. Just think about how proud he'll be of his own creation and his ability to count and read his new clock.

Crafty Counting
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Crafty Counting

Sorting out junk drawers doesn’t necessarily sound appealing to a child, but if you make it a game, it will not only be fun but also educational. Simply compile boxes marked with a color and have your child help you sort through buttons, fabric swatches and bottle caps while cleaning and sorting each into the colored coded boxes. Extend the activity by having your child count the number of brown, red and blue items, comparing the most with the least, says Arni.

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