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Summer Games and Activities Using Beach Towels

By: Dan Reiner
Boy running and playing beach towel games on the beach.

Wherever summer takes you and your family—the beach, the park, or the backyard—your child is always looking for something fun to do. If you’d like some simple activities that children can do anytime, anywhere, just grab a beach towel!

For these beach towel activities, no beach is actually required. The beach towels are used as convenient props to help you and your child quickly set up the activities. Have your child find a game he or she likes on the list below to get started.

Use Towels for Shape Practice

By helping children practice creating shapes with a beach towel, parents can help introduce or reinforce the properties of different shapes. Ask younger children to take the towel and fold it into shapes such as squares, rectangles, triangles, or trapezoids. Challenge older students to create more complex shapes such as isosceles, right, and equilateral triangles. Using multiple towels, have older and younger kids work together to create one big picture of a house or other object using multiple shapes.

Play Beach Towel Baseball

This game is a variation of baseball, but you can adapt it to kickball as well. You need four beach towels that you can fold in half to use as bases. To give the game an extra beach theme, use a beach ball and a soft Wiffle bat.

Design Beach Towel Costumes

Give your children and their friends a variety of beach towels and challenge them to create unique outfits out of them. You can ask them ...

5 Things Kids Can Learn from Starting a Summer Business

By: Tisha Rinker
Female student learning summer business lessons baking and selling cakes.

How did you earn money as a kid? Did you do extra chores? Help out neighbors? Or did you turn to the classic go-to business for kids, the lemonade stand?

Today, if your children are looking for some extra spending money, you could encourage them to make the most of their creativity, talents, and work ethic by becoming young entrepreneurs. Learning firsthand how a business works will introduce children to new challenges and help prepare them for the future. Summer is exactly the right time to get started because students have more free time and can take advantage of a variety of seasonal work opportunities, such as landscaping or providing pet care service for vacation-goers.

Below are summer business tips for kids to try as well as some lessons they can learn along the way.

1. Hone a skill or talent.

Think about your child’s interests and goals. What are his or her favorite subjects? What activities does he or she enjoy? Which skills need development or improvement? Ask your child what he or she wants to try or to learn from the experience. Below are some ideas:

  • Start a tutoring service
  • Coach or offer sports lessons for beginners
  • Teach music lessons
  • Design and sell crafts, T-shirts, or artwork
  • Run a small bakery from home
  • Hold an acting workshop
2. Work on goal setting.

Encourage kids to attach a goal to their business. For younger kids, the goal might be as simple as having fun and trying something ...

Solving the Puzzle of Summer Learning Activities

By: Dan Reiner
printable brain teasers for kids

Finding ways to keep young minds active and entertained all summer long can be challenging. Kids may have boundless energy for swimming in the pool or playing tag, but they may shut down for anything that seems like “school.” To help you conquer this tendency, we’d like to suggest one of our favorite secret weapons for battling summer learning loss: brainteasers!

Whether it’s a riddle, a crossword puzzle, or Soduku, a brainteaser is a fantastic way to exercise your child’s critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. And kids love them!

Naturally, brainteasers are a time-honored tradition in schools. Teachers often create their own puzzles based on the curriculum to make learning fun. At Connections Academy, there’s even a Brainteaser Club that offers entertaining weekly puzzle sheets for students in all grades. Download a free brainteaser worksheet from this club and try it with your family!

Younger kids often respond well to riddles and puns—the sillier, the better! (And they enjoy trying them out on friends, siblings, and relatives, too!) The best part is that they rarely realize that they’re practicing language arts skills. As reading abilities improve, children may enjoy word searches, simple crossword puzzles, and anagrams, all of which improve vocabulary and comprehension.

The same tactics work for older kids, too. Make sure the puzzles you offer are difficult enough to provide a challenge, yet not so hard that your child gets discouraged. Logic grids, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, and trivia quizzes are available in all levels ...

Try the Summer Learning Pyramid to Banish Boredom

By: Beth Werrell
Essential, Extracurricular and Limited Summer Learning Activities

Kids look forward to summer all year long—and they can barely contain their excitement in May—but a week or so after school ends, the chant begins: “I’m bored! There’s nothing to do!” Every parent has heard it—but fortunately, you can banish boredom by using the Summer Learning Pyramid to plan the days ahead. Here’s how it stacks up!

A Strong Foundation

The base or foundation of your pyramid—which represent the biggest blocks of time—should be dedicated to essential activities that involve learning. But this doesn’t mean that your child should spend all day glued to a desk! Summer learning can be found in motion or sitting still—and in all shapes, sizes, and locations! Here are a few great ideas to get you started:

  • Traveling to new destinations might provide ways to explore topics such as history, architecture, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, and science.

  • Cultural activities could include seeing plays or concerts, viewing art or photography exhibits, attending ethnic or cultural festivals, or taking music or art lessons.

  • Explorations of nature could include hiking, bird-watching, picking your own fruit at an orchard, and visiting a conservation center or animal rescue.

  • Practicing the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics also has a place in the “essential activities” part of your schedule, so don’t forget it! Check last year’s summer reading list for great ideas to enhance language arts skills.

By the way, families that are considering the switch to a virtual school should be aware that by enrolling early, they ...

Make Vacation Fun with Pop Culture and History Adventures

By: Tracy Ostwald-Kowald
Route 66 Road Sign: Pop Culture and History Road Trip Ideas

Not surprisingly, most kids think what teachers and parents call “summer learning” is best when it’s disguised as fun. Luckily, there are many ways to discover new things and share teachable moments while enjoying family adventures. This summer, as you strive to keep your children’s minds active, try using trivia and pop culture to take history out of the textbook and onto the road. Chances are, you will find ideas for fantastic family field trips and opportunities for exploration right in your own “backyard”!

Local Pop Culture Shrines

You can start by searching online to see if your home state or city has a tourism website. Or, for something out of the ordinary, check out Roadside America, where you can look up the location of the World’s Largest Lemon and map a tour of Giant Muffler Men!

My own hometown, Appleton, Wisconsin, is legendary because of its most renowned resident, Harry Houdini. One story recounts the day a bashful rookie reporter named Edna Ferber interviewed the already-famous magician at the local lunch counter. As they talked, he leaned against the Coke machine in a pose that showed off his muscular physique. Afterward, he presented Ferber with a souvenir: the padlock he’d removed from the Coke machine. Although Houdini Plaza is under construction now, the Metamorphosis sculpture honoring Harry’s signature illusion will soon return to its rightful place in the center of my town.

Across the nation, small towns and big cities alike brim with opportunities to delve ...

Entertaining and Educational Ways to Learn About Different Cultures

By: Dan Reiner
Junior high school girls learning about different cultures.

Since children have more time off during the summer months, they have more opportunity to engage in favorite summer activities with their families, such as picnics, pool parties, barbecues, and more. To break routine, create memories, and learn something new, stray outside your comfort zones by learning about different cultures!

Culture has a broad definition, so explore any unfamiliar arts, cuisines, or customs that interest you. Encourage your child to try some of these cultural education activities with your whole family and broaden your perspectives.

Dine at an ethnic restaurant.

This is your chance to expand your palate! See if there are any Thai, Lebanese, Indian, Greek, French, or Spanish restaurants nearby that you’ve never been to. Pick up a copy of the menu or take a look at it online ahead of time. See which dishes you’d like to try and research their ingredients and origins.

  • Try this: If you’re more comfortable sticking to familiar foods, order your favorite Italian, Mexican, or Chinese dish. Ask a restaurant owner or research online to find out if your dish has been “Americanized,” and discuss what that means. What’s the difference between Americanized dishes and authentic food? Is your sweet and sour chicken served in China? Find out!
Prepare your own ethnic meal.

Find a few different recipes from a country or culture you’re interested in. Cook the dishes for a family meal and follow that country’s dining traditions. What time is this meal traditionally eaten? How is it served, and where?...

Fire Up for a Red Hot Summer of Learning

By: Beth Werrell
Fire Up Summer Learning Fun

This summer, make sure your barbecue grill isn’t the only thing that gets fired up—plan now how you will ignite your children’s minds and keep them learning during the break!

The teaching staff of Connections Academy suggests four simple steps for planning educational activities, represented by the acronym FIRE. We hope these easy-to-remember tips kindle your imagination and spark your summer learning fun!

F is for Focus

Decide now on the focus of your summertime learning plans. Set some goals with your children—and on your own. Is there something your student needs to do to prepare for the challenges of the next school year? Are there particular skills you’d like your child to practice? If you start thinking now, you have time to plan activities that will focus on your objectives—and combine both learning and fun! Be sure to consider a reward system for recognizing your student’s efforts.

I is for Interested

Use your child’s personal interests as a motivation for learning. After all, for adults and children alike, it’s more fun to study something that sparks your interest! Think about the things your son or daughter enjoys: hobbies, collections, athletic or cultural activities, favorite books, computer technology … the options are unlimited! Anything that will get your child’s mind in motion—preferably without whining!—could serve as a central theme for a fun summer of active learning.

R is for Resourceful

Think outside the box—or the house! Find ways to incorporate learning that get you and your family ...

18 Ways to Enrich Summer Reading at the Library

By: Beth Werrell
18 Ways to Enrich Summer Reading

It’s time for summer! And that can mean fun activities, including reading.

In the next couple of months, children have more time to explore their interests, enhance their knowledge, and broaden their perspective by catching up on reading. If you need books or ideas to encourage young readers, visiting your local library can help you get started.

Besides offering a vast number of books, magazines, movies, and other resources to explore, libraries often give your child the chance to make a craft, listen to a story, join a book club, attend an event, and more.

But your child isn’t limited to reading library books at home and attending the occasional library event. Consider creating your own fun reading activities that utilize the library. These can empower children with more creative freedom and motivate them to plan reading activities that fit their interests.

Library Summer Reading Activities

Below are 18 ways your child can enrich summer reading at the library on his or her own or with your help.

  1. Plan a picnic and peruse a cookbook or food magazine at the library for recipes.
  2. Start a Picnic Book Club. Visit the library with friends to pick out some books to read and discuss during an outdoor picnic. Consider poetry or short stories if you want to read anything aloud.
  3. Before you check out more books at the library, do some summer cleaning by collecting old books and DVDs and taking them along to donate.
  4. Ask your librarian to recommend ...

Get Ready to BLAST OFF with Summer Learning

By: Beth Werrell

Blast Off — Tips for Summer LearningAdmit it, Mom (or Dad)! When warm weather and longer days arrive, it’s easy to let your mind drift away from education. While you may be tempted to “let kids be kids” this summer, this practice can result in significant learning loss. Most students forget two months of math skills, and many slip in their reading achievement as well. Fortunately, if you start planning now, you can prevent this learning loss by integrating learning into your child’s activities!

Here are some simple steps you can take now to get ready to BLAST OFF into a summer of learning and avoid the “summer slump”!

B is for Brainstorming. Ask your kids to put on their thinking caps and brainstorm about what they’d like to learn! Were there any subjects during the school year that captured their interest? Do they want to delve deeper into a topic related to their hobbies?

L is for Learning opportunities. Learning opportunities are everywhere! Can you work an educational side trip into your family vacation? Are there any historical sites, museums, nature preserves, factories, or other interesting places you can tour? Be sure to also look in your immediate area for any cool educational day trip ideas.

A is for Active! Don’t let your kids become summer couch potatoes! Start collecting exercise ideas and ways to combine fitness and learning, and your family will stay healthier for your efforts!

S is for Suggestions. While your virtual school is still in session, ask your ...

10 Election Education Activities for Summer Learning Fun

By: Dan Reiner
girl laying in a park reading the book Duck for President

Vote for learning this summer and keep education alive to give kids an advantage when school starts! More than providing a leg up, summer learning activities prevent children from sliding backwards academically. You can develop a learning theme—like the upcoming presidential election—to help with planning and lend structure to activities.

Enjoy these Ten Election Education Activities to keep children connected to the “three R's Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic,” over the summer while setting them up to be the “smartest kid in class” come November.

  1. Vote for…dinner! Introduce younger students to the voting process by conducting your very own in-house election. “Nominate” two dinner choices and explain that you will hold an election to determine the winner. Crafty kids can make campaign posters, a ballot box, and paper ballots. Math skills get a boost by counting and sorting ballots. Be sure to take time to explain and write new vocabulary words like nominate, election, ballot, and more.
  2. Climb the branches of government. A great way to explore the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government is visually with the help of graphs that highlight roles and responsibilities. Work with students to research the branches and then make your own graph to showcase new knowledge. Use reference materials or other online resources to gather facts.
  3. Explore a free 2012 Election Activity Pack. Do you think you know how a president gets elected? Pearson is offering a comprehensive and interactive online resource that is chock-full of games and other information about the ...

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