Explore, experiment, explain

Being creative is the best bet t beat kids' summer boredom

Being creative is the best bet t beat kids' summer boredom

June 18, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND

Boredom can set in when school lets out for the summer - but a bit of creativity can turn even a piece of stale bread into an entertaining and educational opportunity.

Think mold, said Ed Hazlett, head teacher at Fairview Outdoor Education Center in Clear Spring. Creating a "mold garden" is one of Hazlett's suggestions for nature-related summer activities for kids. Youngsters might enjoy watching the fuzzy stuff grow and spread across bread or crackers, noting mold's spores and color patterns, he said.

Hazlett also advised sprouting wild seeds, making plaster casts of animal tracks, tracking star patterns and capturing creatures on film.

Most communities contain countless family field trip options, Teri J. Brown, author of "Day Tripping: Your Guide to Educational Family Adventures" (Champion Press, 2003), said during a phone interview from her home in Oregon. A home-schooling mother of two teenagers, Brown gave some tips for entertaining and educational trips - a topic she divided into such themes as history, meteorology and food for her book.


"A parent can take a subject they're passionate about and share it with their child, or share a child's passion," Brown said.

Trips to antique stores (with older children) and to old homesteads can spark conversations about the way life used to be compared to how it is today, she said. Let children speculate about how an unusual item at the antique shop might have been used, or where the garden plot might have been at the homestead, Brown said.

Pet stores, supermarkets and fast food restaurants often welcome family groups for tours, she said. "Bakeries are another really delicious trip."

Brown said it's important for parents to have realistic expectations, especially for young children. She said many youngsters lose interest in an activity after about a half-hour.

"But we're often so desperate to get our money's worth that we want to see everything," said Brown, whose Web site at www.fieldtrip offers many day-trip tips for parents.

Robin Spickler, kindergarten teacher at Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, gave her students' parents dozens of summer activity suggestions, including:

  • Tape a line on the floor, and ask your child to follow verbal commands in relation to the line.

  • Play an instrumental CD and have your child draw to the music.

  • Make sweet necklaces with yarn and doughnut-shaped cereal pieces.

  • Use junk mail to play office.

  • Turn a paper bag into a puppet, and stage a play.

More ideas for keeping kids busy this summer include:

  • Reading. Regular trips to your local library and bookstores can keep kids stocked up on interesting books. Washington County Free Library also offers summer reading clubs for children in eighth grade and lower. The clubs challenge readers to complete reading-related tasks for prizes. For more information, call 301-739-3250, ext. 132.

  • Cooking. Let kids plan the menu for at least one meal per week, help shop for the ingredients, and prepare the meal for the family.

  • Art projects. Encourage children to create scrapbooks, press flowers, make leaf rubbings or tackle other artsy activities.

  • Summer camps. The Tri-State area brims with camps that offer activities ranging from archery to theater.

  • Gardening. Nurture budding gardeners by giving them their own small plot of land to cultivate flowers and vegetables of their choosing.

  • Exercising. Hike or bike the C&O Canal towpath or another scenic route; visit the community pool; or stage a family soccer game.

  • n Games: Set up the badminton net; execute a scavenger hunt; or try to sail a flying disc through a hula hoop.
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