Summer gives students a break from the endless math facts and book reports during the school year, but there is still more learning to be done. Here are some tips on how to escape the summer heat and have fun indoors, while sneaking in some learning and family fun.

Here are a few suggestions for some in-door summer activities:

Bounce off the Walls Bouncy Balls

Home Science Tools provides steps to create your own bouncy balls. This at-home science experiment features some interesting chemical reactions through the mixing of the glue, which will give the ball ability to stay together, with the cornstarch, the structure of which imparts elasticity. The pair require the addition of borax to bring and hold them together.

At home items used for one ball:
balls

  • 1 tbsp. white glue
  • 1/2 tsp. borax
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. warm water
  • 2 plastic cups
  • 2 wooden craft sticks
  • food coloring

Directions:

  1. In one cup, use a craft stick to mix a few drops of food coloring into the glue.
  2. In the second cup, mix borax and water.
  3. Add the cornstarch and borax mixture into the glue.
  4. Let this sit for 15 seconds.
  5. Stir the mixture until it is thick and no longer able to be stirred.
  6. Remove from the cup and roll the ball between your hands to create a firm sphere. It might take a little while to form up, and if it feels too wet dab it on a paper towel.

Now you and your child are ready to see whose ball can bounce higher. Have fun. Store the balls in plastic bags to prevent them from drying out.

Lava Bottles 

Create your own beat-the-heat fun by making artificial lava! The blog Making Memories With Your Kids has a step- by-step guide to create your own lava bottle. Pick your favorite color food dye and combine it with vegetable oil and other ingredients have a bubbling blast with your child this summer.

At home items used:2

  • clear plastic bottles
  • vegetable oil (or any other kind of oil you have on hand)
  • water
  • food coloring
  • Alka-Seltzer

Directions:

  1. Peel the label off the soda bottle and fill it 3/4 of the way with vegetable oil, then fill the remaining quarter with water.
  2. Add roughly 10 drops of food coloring to the liquids.
  3. Break one Alka-Seltzer tablet into 8 portions adding each to the bottle, one at a time.
  4. As the tablets interact, watch the bubbles form and rotate around the bottle.

Practice Counting Money with an At-Home Cafe

Instead of regular mealtime, make breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time an opportunity to teach children how to count money and provide change back. Have them sell eggs or a glass of juice for breakfast in exchange for pretend money. Counting money is a crucial skill that provides independence for children, especially who desire do to shopping on their own. Practice counting money and providing change back reinforces basic math skills, while also sparking an entrepreneurial spirit.

At home items used:

  • play money or create construction paper money
    • A few templates and printables for making your own

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

After choosing foods to “purchase,” pretend the kitchen counter is where you check out and the drawers are cash registers. You can even go all out and write/print up a quick menu with prices and family members can take turns selling meals to one another.

Learn Measurements While Making Snacks 

Let your children practice their kitchen skills by making trail mix. This teaches children to work with measurements without introducing a stove or complex recipes. A Bird and a Bean claims to have “The Best Sweet and Salty Snack Mix.” It is a great starting recipe for new chefs.

At home items used: 3

  • 1 cup of candy-covered chocolate
  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of honey roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup of yogurt covered raisins
  • 1 cup of mini peanut butter filled pretzels
  • 2 cups of rice cereal

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and enjoy immediately or as a delicious family night treat. You could also make this before your next outing, daytrip, or car ride.

Grow Your Own

Green in Arizona’s summers can be hard to come by so plant your own! Wheat berry seeds are a good start to gardening because you see results fast. The grass sprouts quickly and can grow about 7 inches in a week. Tinker Lab provides a detailed guide on the how-to of planting wheatgrass. This activity requires patience and helps teach responsibility because someone has to water the grass.

At home items used: 4

  • salad container
  • seed starting soil
  • biodegradable starting pots
  • wheat berry seeds

Directions:

  1. This project takes a few steps over the course of 7 days, or longer if you choose.
  2. Infuse the seeds with water and let sit for 12 hours afterwards dry the seeds out for 12 more hours.
  3. Poke holes in the bottom of the planters and the salad container to create drain holes. Fill the cartons with soil, then water generously.
  4. Distribute the seeds among the pots and the container until you can barely see the dirt. Cover them lightly with a little bit more soil.
  5. Place them near a window that receives moderate sunlight—our desert summer sun could be too intense for tender seedlings.
  6. Water or spritz planters twice a day.

In no time at all, you should have a lush, blanket of green sprouts reaching for the sky.

Beat the Heat & Keep the Brain Sharp This Summer

Keep your child’s brain active this summer by doing creative at-home activities. Explore together by incorporating these and other activities that involve plants, experiments, and food.

 

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