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Summer Fun Can Be Educational
By Jennifer Glover
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Summer vacation is supposed to be a time for children to take a break from school and have a little fun. But as many parents know, summer usually ends up being a time of boredom for kids.
Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University, said there are many fun educational activities for children, to make summer a memorable time.
Since children think there is nothing to do, many will spend the majority of their time watching television. But there are many other enjoyable indoor activities for children.
"One activity is toy making. Egg cartons can be used for sorting games, cardboard boxes can become forts or blocks, milk cartons can become cars or boats, and round oatmeal containers can make great musical instruments," Davis said.
Children can use their imaginations and come up with many other ideas for toys.
"A refrigerator box could be a space ship, a playhouse or a train," Davis said. "The key is to let them use their creativity and for parents to encourage and support their ideas."
With their parents' help, children can follow recipes for art supplies and foods. Some of these include play dough, finger paint, soap crayons, taffy, dried apple rings and butter.
An indoor garden is another great project for children. Sweet potatoes, carrots or avocado seeds can be placed in a container of water and put in a window or other sunny location. The plants cannot be eaten, but it will give the child a sense of accomplishment of growing something for themselves.
These activities are not only fun for the child, but also teach them math, science and other developmental skills.
Reading is a good hobby that is fun for children. Even young children who are unable to read can listen to a book being read by an adult or older sibling.
"Children of all ages benefit from books and many libraries offer reading programs during the summer for kids," Davis said.
Many children will spend their summer outside riding bikes or playing sports. But there are many other outdoor activities children can learn from while having fun.
Most young people enjoy picnics.
"Let them make their own food. Picnic foods could be something as simple as celery sticks or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches," Davis said.
Another activity parents can do with their children outdoors is nature exploration. Look for spider webs, watch birds or catch lightning bugs.
Davis said the Cooperative Extension Service offers a correspondence program for children called Grandletters.
"The program encourages activities between elderly adults and young children. The elderly person can be a relative or neighbor who needs extra support in his or her life," she said.
Remember these projects are not only fun for the child, simple to do and low cost, they also teach social, mental and physical values.
For more information on recipes, programs and other summer activities contact your local county extension service.