School's Out, Now What? Conquering Boredom in the Summer

When summer hits will you be ready?

Eventually every child will say those wonderfully melodic words “I’m bored” as a tiny violin plays in the background.

It's the age old dilemma of finding that fine line between enough work and letting a kid have a summer. You want them to do some, but not too much. We can’t have kids working out of textbooks all summer long because a) that is a fight we will lose and b) it’s boring for kids. The key is to give kids options. They need lots of options. Sadly, we don’t always have the time, so think about setting up long form projects for them.

Below are some of my favorite activities that my own kids have spent the last few summers working on. They don’t do these all day every day, but they're always something they can fall back on. These also work best for upper elementary kids because of the level of independence it takes.

Write a Wish List
Encourage your kids or students to write a long list of things they want to accomplish during the summer. The length doesn't matter, it's just getting them to think about all the possibilities there are besides Netflix. Maybe they want to learn new board games, pick up an instrument, or make a new friend-- those are perfect and require more independence and perseverance from them, which is what you want. As summer progresses, make kids go back and check the list. Chances are there's a lot that they'll still need to accomplish.

Design a Garden
Get their hands dirty. I’m not just talking about playing in the mud. Give kids an area and space to design a garden, and not just vegetables. Working with plants requires learning about each individual plant, understanding spacing and size, and attention to detail. It’s also a skill that most will use for their entire life.

Full disclosure: I love to garden. It takes patience, hard work, and it is extremely satisfying. It’s also made me much more knowledable about what surrounds me (the environment) and I’ve been able to pass that on to my own kids. We work together and we’re constantly trying to improve what we’ve created.

Start and (try to) Run a Business
The all-time classic kid business is the lemonade stand. Make it, sell it, have a little cash in your pocket. It’s a good idea, but really it’s just the tipping point. There are so many intricacies to running a business that kids never realize, but they should know about. Whether it budgeting, marketing, or hustling— running a kid business is work and it take skills.

I’ve seen kids selling water and drinks at parades while walking down the road and others are creating bracelets/trinkets. Slime is also a big seller right now too. Give kids guidelines but don’t give them answers, let them use skills to problem solve. Sometimes they’ll make money but most of the time they’ll learn some valuable lessons that can be applied to more than just academics. Life skills are an important commodity.

Support a Cause
There is never a bad time to support a cause or an organization. Whether it’s raising money, volunteering time, or making others aware the time for kids/students/children to work towards a cause is immeasurable.

Animal shelters are an excellent place to start because it can be as simple as donating towels and blankets. A simple trip around a neighborhood or holding a drive at school can make a positive impact.

Food drives and donations are amazing. They don’t require a ton of prep work for kids and it allows them to use interpersonal/social skills if they choose to canvas a neighborhood too.

Get In the Kitchen
Preparing and creating food is a skill that can last their entire life. Whether it's baking, cooking, prepping-- get kids into the kitchen using the tools and following recipes. A dash of math, a little reading, a little real-world application of skills can have a lasting impact. 

Pull out that Betty Crocker cook book or head to the store and find one with recipes for cookies (because we always need more of those) but push your kids to make something than more than a bowl of cereal. Allow them to create a dinner or lunch...and lets be honest, there is zero downside to a kid that becomes an amazing cook.

Project Based Learning
Project based learning was built for the summer. It's the perfect opportunity to blend high-interest activities with lots of extra time. Project based learning can be as open ended or structured as you'd like (or you think your child needs).

This is where their wish list can be used to support their interests too and kids can create a plan to learn/research/find an answer to something they're really interested in. This list of ideas of build upon kids/adults teaching and learning on their own time and at their own level.

If you'd like a little guidance to help students or children with project based learning activities for home or school, check out my favorite tips for getting started here. Or see if some of my resources I've developed would fit your needs.

                         Project Based Learning Activities

You can find more from me at Digital: Divide & Conquer where I tackle project based learning, technology, and the space in between.