Summer vacation is almost here, and with it come long, sunny days where kids complain about being bored. One way parents can help them is to be ready with quick and easy projects. These help kids stay curious about the world around them by asking good questions about the things they see. If you’re planning ahead for how to stir up your kid’s curiosity and beat boredom, here are some ideas that will help you turn off their screens and keep their little minds active.
Going outside is sometimes all the planning you need to get kid’s using their imagination, but once the first thrill of the swings and sandbox have faded, it’s nice to have some ideas ready to keep them thinking and moving.
1. Garden games
There are plenty of games to play without a board, and with a little help, kids can even invent their own! Get them off to a good start by asking about their favorite game. What pieces are needed, and what outdoor objects could be used to recreate the moves? Maybe they’ll use real slides and sidewalk squares to make a Chutes and Ladders path. Perhaps they’ll use rocks and dandelions to make nature checkers. Once they’ve got the hang of it, ask them to invent a new game that the whole family can play using only outdoor items.
2. Backyard scavenger hunt
Kids love to collect things and organize items by types to get a complete set. Help your child see the yard in a whole new way by asking them to find items from a certain category. If you have a durable camera or trust them with your phone, ask them to take photos of the items they find. Or you can use empty egg cartons or the squares on the sidewalk to collect items that are safe to touch and move. Ask them to find something for each colour of the rainbow and put them in colour order. Ask them to find five living things and then talk about what similarities and differences each photo has.
Sometimes summer boredom strikes when storms or heat limits outdoor play. When you find yourself stuck indoors, how to stir up your kid’s curiosity depends on their interests.
3. Potion station
If your child loves all things glittery and magical, or all things slimy and stinky, they’ll have fun making discoveries at a potion station with an assortment of kitchen ingredients and food coloring to mix together. Protect the table with a large cookie sheet and ask some guiding questions: what do you want your potion to do? What do you think will happen when you add that ingredient? What do you smell and feel?
4. Collage stories
All children are natural story tellers, so tap that talent by creating homemade books. A set of blank papers stapled together is a good starting point, but some kids don’t know where to go from there. Look for old magazines and flip through the pages together until a picture sparks their imagination. Ask questions like, “what do you think happened to that dog?” or “Where would a person like that like to travel?” Let them cut out a few images they like and paste them into the book, then draw and write to complete their story.
5. Create a stuffed animal
Drawing is an obvious way to spend a summer afternoon, but you can take that project to the next level by helping your child design and create their own stuffed animal. Ask them, “what kind of creature would be really fun to play with?” Once they’ve made an amazing drawing, talk to them about what their creation would be like. What would their voice be like? How would they move? They’ll be surprised when soon after a plush version of their handiwork arrives, ready to take the adventure off the page and into real life.
Exploring the world and imagining new fun doesn’t stop on the last day of school. Follow your child’s interests and use open-ended questions as they play to keep their brains growing all summer long. These tips can help you learn how to stir up your kid’s curiosity indoors and out.