*Taking a trip? Involve your child in planning by visiting the local library. Have them check out and read books about your destination. Grab the atlas and have them chart different routes, comparing the time and mileage. Have them make a project that relates to the area you'll be visiting. Visit a free online site like spellingcity.com and create word lists for them that encompass travel or destination words. Make them puzzles they can complete while traveling at a site like puzzle-maker.com. Don't allow them to spend the entire travel time watching movies or playing apps. Put together a travel "busy book". Get a hard three-ring binder in their favorite colors and fill it full of blank paper for coloring and drawing, a state map so they can mark off the license plates they find, lined paper for writing to friends and family, coloring pages, workbook pages (mathopolis, mathisfun, phonics worksheets, spelling worksheets, edhelper), and a binder pencil pouch with crayons, mechanical pencils, and pens (if your kids are old enough not to write on their seats). Encourage each child to pack a bag with fun road activities. Hit your local Target dollar section for some fun new travel books and toys (we just picked up Travel Bingo and magnetic games for $1 each) Revisit "old school" travel games like "My Father Owns a Grocery Store" "20 Questions", and "I'm Thinking of an Animal..."
*Staying closer to home? As you're running errands or driving around town, challenge your kids to sign or license plate races. Everyone has to add up (or multiply, subtract, divide--wherever they are in their skills) the numbers they see and gets a point for each correct answer. Have them help plan and shop for meals. Teach them about researching new recipes, budgeting for food, using math to cook...It's quality time, educational time, and a time to build up life skills. Visit your library and plan a dream vacation. Better yet, request travel guides online and let them cut them up to make postcards and posters about places they'd like to visit someday. Search for some printable activities like this Zoo Animal Report and make your everyday activities educational. Start summer off right with a planning party. Get your favorite treat and visit a site like iMom.com to download a cute calendar JUST for your summer fun. Then, hit our activity pages and fill it with fun, inexpensive things to do.
*Set up a "Super Summer Challenge" for your children. Choose some areas in which your child needs more help and offer the largest point values for those. Struggling reader? They get high points for reading new books. Math-a-phobe? Higher points for online math lessons. Brainstorm fun activities that your child wouldn't normally think of trying and add them to the challenge. Visit the website and some blogs for even more ideas on how to create your own SSC.
*Start free accounts with some educational websites like Khan Academy, Codecademy, Seterra, Cool Math, Teach Your Monster to Read, Spelling City, and turn their computer/video time into worthwhile learning time. Visit your local library's computer games section and grab some of the hundreds of educational games they offer. (Bettendorf has an outstanding selection!) They can learn map skills, reading, typing, geography, math...you name it. Try replacing some video game apps with some from this list and let them enhance their school skills.
*Challenge your family to stretch their normal reading time to include biographies, autobiographies, historical novels, science fiction...the genres that aren't the "normal" choices. Need some suggestions? Check out Common Sense Media or Reading Rockets for some ideas and reviews. Think back to your favorite books when you were a kid. Chances are, your kids haven't ever read them and would enjoy them just as much.
*Look into summer tutoring from places like Mathnasium (563) 424-1469 or Tutor|Doctor (563) 468-3763 if your child has additional educational needs.
Don't despair about this long summer, moms. ENJOY it! Take a little time now to plan some summer fun, and those weeks will fly by. Remember, you don't have to SPEND a lot to have a LOT of fun with your kiddos!