24 Summer Brain-Building Activities

  1. Let the kids plan a day (give them a budget — as low as $0!)
  2. Have your kids come up with 5 questions (or 10 if you’re on a long car ride) they would like to ask _______________ (name a person, real or fictional, e.g., Maya Angelou, Vladimir Putin, Mr. Rogers, Harry Potter, Chicken Little).
  3. Play “Mad Libs.” You can actually take any story and remove some nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc., and have your children come up with the words to fill in the blanks. You can certainly buy Mad Libs if you want. Either way, the results are usually hilarious and, of course, a great way to practice parts of speech.
  4. Take a trip to your local library.  In the summer, you won’t have to rush. Ask the librarian what the favorite books are for kids the ages of your kids.
  5. Turn favorite summer activities into invisible learning opportunities by predicting, discussing and reflecting (PDR).
  6. Play a board game (rainy day).
  7. Play outside.
  8. Have them choose one thing they would like to do better at the end of the summer and figure out how they can get better at it. Maybe take a picture or video on your smartphone of them doing that thing at the beginning and then at the end. Often, we improve gradually so that picture or video can underscore how things have changed.
  9. Pick berries or peaches or another summer crop.
  10. Shop a farmer’s market.
  11. Take a class — yoga, sailing, golf, Bridge, drawing… Learn something new!
  12. Clean out and organize a closet (also good for a rainy day).
  13. Cook a meal that everyone in the family (within reason) can contribute to. Following directions and measuring are great learning activities.
  14. Find an attraction in your local community and go for a visit.
  15. Measure your height at the beginning of the summer and predict what it will be at the end of the summer. How close was your prediction?
  16. Plant something (vegetables or flowers) — even a small pot will provide something to take care of. Take a picture of it once a week and write a story about its progress (even if it dies, it can be an interesting story).
  17. Interview someone about their job.
  18. Interview someone over 60.
  19. Do something nice for someone. Tell a family member or friend how it made you feel.
  20. Blow bubbles (why are bubbles round?).
  21. Have the children (or everyone in the family) draw the floorplan of your “dream house.” Draw in furniture and other objects. Get carried away! A swimming pool in your bedroom? Why not? They can “show and tell,” explaining all the wonderful features they’ve added to a friend or family member.
  22. Make up the rules for a new game.
  23. Set up and play a Frisbee golf course (the nice thing about this kind of golf is that holes can overlap, so you can fit it all into a small backyard space).
  24. As you come across ordinary objects, come up with ideas of what else they could be used for. Get creative!
  25. Create your own jigsaw puzzle. The kids can take a piece of cardboard, draw a scene or design on it, then cut it up in pieces (an age-appropriate number of pieces, and with an adult wielding the scissors if needed). See if they can put it back together again!

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