Saturday, June 25, 2016

10 Ways to Keep Kids Actively Engaged for Summer - Cindy Koepp

For 14 years, I taught kids. Most of that time was in fourth grade. One of the biggest problems teachers have with summer break is the loss of skills and knowledge over the summer. Even the typical beginning of year assessments account for this drop off by easing off some metrics for a beginning-of-year kid.
How does this happen? Well, many kids spend all summer playing video games and watching TV shows with all the intellectual challenge of a dead rock. Many of the things we learn fall in the “Use it or Lose it” category.

Some schools try to combat this by requiring summer reading lists, which 95% of the kids ignore anyway. Who wants to read some dull, dry academically acclaimed “classic” when there are levels of the latest first-person-shooter to conquer?

The trick is going to be coming up with fun stuff to do that engages the brain.
1. Lumosity. Go to Create an account for your kid (and for you while you’re at it). There is a paid version of this program with more bells and whistles, but the unpaid version lets the kid play three games per day. The computer picks the games based on how the kid scored on a quick assessment and an assignment of goals. These games get progressively challenging, and if the kid gets stuck, they back off a bit. Lumosity works on different skills like memory, attention, spatial reasoning, and pattern recognition. So, the kid gets some game-playing but with a purpose. The game will give you some basic feedback about how you did relative to others the same age.

2. Engineering Tasks. Give your child a challenge to solve. If you have multiple kids who like to compete, you can make this competitive to see who can come up with the best solution. You can also make them cooperative so they work together to figure out the best solution. Tasks include things like these:
a. Using only 4 pieces of paper and four 1” pieces of tape, build a free-standing structure that will hold as many books as you can 6” off the table.
b. Using a 1’ square piece of aluminum foil, make a boat that will float and hold the largest number of pennies.
c. Using 4 lifesaver candies, 2 straws, 2 pieces of paper, and tape, make a sail car.
d. Design a Rube Goldberg ( device with at least 4 steps that ends with turning a light on (sending things flying through the air is not allowed).

3. Weird Science. Science can be fun when it’s more involved than memorizing weird-sounding words and outlining a chapter. Here are some science projects to keep brains busy.
a. Evaporation part 1. Collect different-sized and -shaped containers. Put 1/4 cup water in each one. Set them all up together in one location and make a prediction about which will evaporate first. Observe them over the next days and keep up with which ones go dry the fastest.
b. Evaporation part 2. Get several containers that are all the same size and shape. Put 1/4 cup of water in each one. Place them in different locations and predict which will evaporate first. Observe them over the next several days and keep up with which ones go dry the fastest.
c. Collections. Choose a thing to collect (rocks, leaves, flowers, etc) and see how many you can collect and identify. If they’re flowers or leaves, press them to dry them out. Then make a display complete with labels for what you’ve collected.
d. Friction vs. Gravity. Get a pink eraser, you know, the block sort. Get something you can use for an incline like a box lid or a board or something. Get a pile of books that are all the same approximate size. Put one book under the incline. Put the eraser at the top of the incline and measure how much time it takes for the eraser to get to the bottom. Then repeat with 2 books, 3 books, 4 … until you run out of books or can no longer get an accurate time reading. You can repeat this experiment after covering the incline with different things like a blanket or plastic or paper or … whatever. You can also repeat this with different objects.
e. Art, Meet Science. Look at the pictures of several different kinds of birds. Notice the shapes of their beaks and feet. Then check out what they eat and what kind of habitat they live in. Notice the similarities of diet, habitat, beak shapes, and feet shapes. Now design a bird of your own and come up with its habitat and diet. Make a 3D model of your critter using whatever art supplies you have around.
Stay tuned. Next month, I’ll have 10 more ways to keep kids busy for summer.

Cindy Koepp is originally from Michigan. She moved to Texas as a child and later received a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. Her recently concluded adventures in education involved pursuing a master's degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has four published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in four anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn't reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press as well as an optician at monster-sized retail store.

Where to find Cindy:

No comments:

Post a Comment