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Keep kids engaged with books, projects
The hot days of summer are here, and children everywhere are lining up for snow cones, heading out to summer camps and splashing around in pools. While these lazy days are fun, recent statistics suggest that children can forget up to two months’ worth of knowledge from school over the summer. Unfortunately, teachers have to spend four to six weeks at the beginning of the school year re-teaching children what they forgot during their break.
Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways to keep those mental gears turning this summer. First, check with your local Extension office. Many 4-H agents are offering day camps related to NASA, robotics, cooking, and a whole host of other things. I should know; I will be participating in a bunch of them. Let me just say that the experiment involving 4,000 Ping-Pong balls has the potential to be a real show-stopper.
Also, be sure to check out the 4-H Club Member Project Manuals while you are at your Extension office. They have a step-by-step guide to just about anything you can ever hope to do. From making a flashlight with aluminum foil to learning how to care for a pet, the 4-H agent in your county can get you connected with fun projects that engage youth all summer long.
Other fun options include using books or kits to keep kids engaged. I have several favorites and some that I will be using at camps this summer. For the younger crowd, Sesame Street has put out a coloring and science experiment book called “Simple Science Experiments with Elmo and Friends.” The book costs around $7 and usually has to be ordered online. It is part of a series of activity books; other topics include star watching, gardening and forestry, just to name a few.
Currently, my favorite set of books for children ages 9 and up is the “Doyle and Fossey, Science Detectives” series. Each book has a mystery that must be solved using scientific principles. Additionally, each book comes complete with experiments kids can conduct at home along with Doyle and Fossey. Personally, I think everyone needs to have the scientific knowledge to solve the mysterious “Case of the Gasping Garbage.”
Don’t forget that many children’s books are available for free on Kindles or iPads, and most can be downloaded to your computer as well. Downloading books to your child’s mobile device is an easy way to carry books to the beach or tote them around the airport terminal.
Many of the classics can be downloaded from the Project Gutenberg website: http://www.gutenberg.org/. The Digital Book Index also has a large collection of free children’s books from a variety of sources: http://www.digitalbookindex.com/subject_search/search010childclassicsa/18.
If getting your child ready for the ACT is high on your list of priorities, consider the logic-building series of Meg Mackintosh. Meg has a series of mysteries to solve, and the reader is invited to help her reason through each scenario. This series is recommended for children who have completed first grade and older. Remembering my logic class in college, I should perhaps go back and read them more closely myself.
There are a lot of other great books out there. I frequently get requests for recommendations, so I’ll try to tweet some of the other books you may want to check out this week. Follow me on Twitter @mariahstechnews.