(Family Features)–Summer may be a break from formal education, but keeping kids excited about learning can be an easy way to keep them active and engaged instead of zoned out on screen time.
The National Summer Learning Association estimates that kids can lose up to two months of learning during the summer, but involving kids in educational summer activities can prevent them from forgetting skills they learned during the school year.
Encourage your kids to keep learning outside of school with these fun and educational summer activities.
Visit a Science Museum
Spend a rainy day enjoying a science museum, which offers hands-on experiences to make learning fun. Kids can build on what they’ve already learned and apply new discoveries when they return to school in the fall. Many museums offer special prices for families, which makes it an opportunity for the whole family to bond. Once you get home, talk about favorite exhibits or lessons, and ask kids to express those memories on paper in the form of a journal entry or colorful drawing.
Head to the Zoo or Aquarium
At a conservation-oriented destination like an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited zoo or aquarium, kids can learn about the importance of environmentally friendly practices, animal care and welfare, and more. Families can also explore the unique challenges facing endangered species and discover how members are Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE). After learning about animals that need help, kids can visit zebrapen.com/aza for fun games that reinforce what they learned.
Go on a Nature Hike
Hikes provide abundant nature lessons, giving kids a chance to get some exercise while exploring and appreciating their surroundings. Visit a national or local park to get some fresh air and learn about preserving nature. Along with a picnic lunch, bring along information about local wildlife and plants, and have kids search for each item on the list as a scavenger hunt. Back at home, test their memories by having them create a collage of all the things they found.
See a Show at a Children’s Theater
Experiencing live theater is a positive way to introduce kids to new cultural experiences. Because they’re typically short in run time, most shows can hold the attention of kids of all ages while conveying important life lessons. Pick a show with lots of interaction that can allow kids to stay focused and maybe even participate in the action. Acting out their favorite scenes, illustrating favorite characters or writing a new scene or different ending are all ways to keep the learning going after the curtains close.
Join a Library Program
Special summer programs at libraries can give kids a chance to enhance their reading skills. Many local libraries offer contests that challenge kids to read a certain number of books during the summer and include a series of incentives for reaching certain milestones. The reading component is often supplemented with crafts and activities to make reading fun. Extend the challenge even further by choosing a favorite book and asking kids to write or draw a sequel that takes those characters on another exciting adventure.
Capture Life’s Moments
In addition to getting out and exploring new things, encourage daily writing, coloring and expression by asking kids to creatively capture their summer experiences. Teaching kids to write and draw about things they find fun is a great way to reinforce what they’ve learned and foster a love for writing.