Summertime can be a time when children say, “I’m bored” – a lot. Answer that call with some fun and educational activities that will also fight the brain drain of summer. You may be surprised at some of the things you’ll also learn. These are activities you can do at home, but also expand to include learning experiences such as a field trip to a museum, reading a book on the topic, or going on outdoor excursions.
The first thing is to pick a topic that grabs your child’s attention and then dive into activities and resources that keep them engaged.
Several children from Dancing Moose Montessori School are joining us to illustrate activities they find interesting – four different topics that teach and entertain preschoolers and up.
Discovery – Be a Paleontologist and Discover Dinosaurs
Activity — Find Dinosaurs and dinosaur bones in frozen ice OR in dirt
– Ice: freeze plastic dinosaurs in colored water and, when fully frozen, allow kids to carefully chip away ice to “free” and discover the dinosaurs
– Dirt: cook noodles (we use manicotti) and bury in a container of dirt, then let kids dig to find them and carefully brush dirt off to see “bone” details
Extension Activity (older children) — Make bones out of salt dough, bury in sand, brush off and rebuild as a Paleontologist would
Book — Any good Dinosaur book will work but there’s a good one for young children by National Geographic, Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs
Field trip — Natural History Museum of Utah
Resources — Salt Dough Recipe:
Constellations – Become an Astronomer
Activity – Marshmallow toothpick constellations – find a picture of a constellation, or at night find one in the sky, and recreate it on a paper plate with marshmallows and toothpicks.
Extension activity — Make a sundial by poking a pencil through a paper plate and placing it outside in a well-lit area. Starting at 7am, put a dot at the 7am mark where the pencil shadow is and then continue doing this every hour. You can then use the sundial as a clock each day.
Book– Discovering the Stars by Laurence Santrey
Field trip—The Clark Planetarium
Resources—Star app that shows the name and shape constellations real time from your phone! https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/night-sky/id475772902?mt=8
Rocks – Discovering as Geologists Do
Activity – Growing crystals on pipe cleaners (“Crystal” recipe below)
Extension activity – Searching for and hammering your own geode
Book – Crystalize! by Scholastic
Field trip — Head to Dugway, Utah to look for geodes in the wild or visit a Rock Shop
Resources – https://rockhoundingutah.com/dugway-geode-beds/
Crystal Formations Recipe (Borax)
Mix 3-4 tablespoons of Borax into every 1 cup of boiling water (it’s recommended to use about 3 cups of water total). Stir until the water becomes clear and the majority of Borax is dissolved.
You are creating a saturated solution, which means you need to add enough Borax to the boiling water that no more can be dissolved into the water. Keep adding and stirring until the water stops dissolving the Borax.
For best results, add enough Borax that you can see a small pile of it on the bottom of the glass after stirring, still keeping the water clear. NOTE: If you add so much Borax that the water becomes cloudy, your crystals will be cloudy as well. Add more boiling water!
Once you the solution is ready, make pipe cleaner shapes to dip into the Borax solution. Leave pipe cleaners in solution over night to form crystals.
Tinkering – Helping be “Handy” around the House
Activity – Hammering and Sorting:
– Hammering golf tees into Clay
– Sorting screws by size, color, types of head (slotted or Phillips)
Extension activity – Hammering nails into wood (with close supervision)
Book – The Tool Book by Gail Gibbons
Field trip — Home Depot Kids Workshop (1st Saturday each month) or other hardware store to help get supplies for an at-home DIY project (and assisting as possible)