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Entertain your kids

Keep bodies fit and minds sharp during summer months

Keep bodies fit and minds sharp during summer months

June 13, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

"I'm booooored."

Many young children are likely to voice that familiar complaint at least once during the summer months - a time when parents and other caregivers are charged with helping kids fill their school-less days with fun and educational activities. Some local educators recently shared advice for staving off summer boredom and keeping kids physically fit and mentally sharp for the upcoming school year.

Veteran home school teacher Barbara Martin first encourages her four sons to set summer goals. The family then strives to meet those goals throughout the summer, says Martin, co-coordinator of the Appalachian Regional Cooperative - a network of home school families in the Tri-State area.

Building sand castles at Greenbrier and Cunningham Falls state parks, bicycling along the C&O Canal National Historical Park's towpath and visiting the library for new books each week are favorite family activities, she says. Her sons also check out library books to learn about vacation destinations before the family departs for trips.

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It's important to keep up on reading skills during the summer months so children do not fall behind when the school year starts, Martin says.

At their Hagerstown home, her family enjoys backyard baseball and volleyball games. Each child is responsible for planning, planting and maintaining his own small garden, mowing the grass, mulching and helping to wash the family's vehicles.

"That never seems like a chore to them," Martin says.

Clear Spring Elementary School art teacher Priscilla Howard encourages parents to recycle cans, jars, plastic containers and other household items so kids can use them for imaginative art projects. Similarly, the Creative Kids at Home Web site at www.creativekid

sathome.com suggests saving greeting cards, calendars and magazines so kids can make collages, place mats and candle holders.

Children also can make their own miniature golf courses at home with such materials as new sponges taped to yardsticks for golf clubs and empty oatmeal boxes for tunnels, according to the Web site.

The U.S. Department of Education's Web site at www.ed.gov offers the following suggestions:

  • Create a family storybook with pictures and descriptions of family members, everyday activities and special trips.

  • Foster children's love of reading by crafting a kids-only bookcase from a sturdy cardboard box turned on its side and pushed up against a wall. Decorate the box together, and fill it with your child's favorite books and others collected at yard and book sales.

  • Encourage children to make up plays from favorite stories and perform them in front of the family.



The back yard also offers an abundance of fun summer learning activities for kids, says Ed Hazlett, head teacher at Fairview Outdoor Center.

Recycled egg cartons make excellent sorters for kids' rock collections, he says. Hazlett also suggests starting a leaf album by gathering different leaves, pressing them between two sheets of wax paper in a heavy book for about one week, then compiling them in a photo album. Kids can label the leaves using information from library books or the Internet.

To conduct a summer "green search," take a square of green construction paper outside and see how many plants match the paper. Keep track of the different shades of green in the yard. Ant hills can also provide hours of educational fun for youngsters, Hazlett says. Place such food items as salt, pepper and sugar at equal distances from an anthill, and watch ants' reactions to the food. Do they all select the same foods first?

"Beware," Hazlett says, "watching ants can become addictive to young kids."

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