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Break Up Summer Boredom
Summer vacation always seems like a great idea to students when it's first starting, but as the days wear on, many begin to complain of boredom. Most don't realize that they are missing the mental stimulation of schoolwork and the social interaction they get with organized play. Completing practice workbooks or doing standard school-like activities are not likely to pique their interest, though. Instead, alleviate summer boredom and nurture academic skills through projects this summer. Projects have the potential to tap into all curriculum areas and also to provide vital problem-solving, analysis, and evaluation opportunities that build upper-level thinking skills. There are lots of possibilities for hands-on, age-appropriate learning when you have a motivated youngster on your hands. These projects are suitable for families, groups of friends, or even organized summer groups.
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Host a Neighborhood Carnival
Carnivals are the perfect project for groups of friends or siblings to tackle. Jobs can be found or created for nearly any age group, and the amount of adult supervision necessary will be minimal in most cases. Materials and supplies needed are also flexible, with loads of latitude to use household items or recycled things like pop bottles, newspapers and old boxes. The first step is planning, and it's a good idea to supervise this step with your group. Make decisions together about whether this will be a free attraction, if prizes will be offered, whether to open the carnival to everyone or just friends and family, and when it will be held. Choose games to create, such as target games like beanbag or ring tosses, games of chance like sucker pulls, and games of skill such as races or other competitions. Now, tap into academic skills: measurement for construction, writing for publicity, money management and budgeting. Nearly every aspect of the carnival can be educational if you allow the kids to do most of the work!
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Open A Museum
Another great, long-term project that's full of learning opportunities is to open a museum in a corner or part of a room. Your young curator will need to choose a topic or area to cover, find or create displays, design labels and research background information. Other related tasks include scripting a tour speech, creating publicity materials and designing a brochure. Topics for museums include areas that are of interest to the child, like historical events or animals, collections such as rocks or shells, or famous people's lives and biographies. Artifacts can be created from collection items, posters, or models and dioramas. High-tech youngsters may enjoy creating a multi-media computer presentation about their topic or a video display similar to those that real museums offer. This project offers some wonderful opportunities to hone research skills, presentation skills, reading, and writing.
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Improve the Community
Children and youth can be some of the most passionate people around, and you can channel this energy into constructive projects by choosing a charity or volunteer outlet for students. Gather information about age-appropriate opportunities in your area that are accessible and then present those choices to the kids. Children invariably are more motivated when they have a say in choosing the target for their philanthropic energies. Find a worthy project or cause and brainstorm ways the students can assist. Will you raise money? Volunteer time and energy? Publicize a cause? Encourage the kids to consider their resources, time and talents as they choose their course of action. You will almost certainly exercise communication skills, nurture planning and time management skills, and develop interpersonal and team-building skills as you all work together to improve a community situation or solve a problem. Best of all, volunteer projects such as this encourage children toward a life-long commitment to bettering the community and create a culture of volunteers.