Summer activities to engage your kids

Here are five simple activities you can do with your child over the summer:

  1. Create a comic strip: To improve handwriting and penmanship, young students need to work on their fine motor skills. Creating comic strip works on humor, creativity, and also encourages use of those fine motor skills so important for handwriting - something that is being lost as many young students are spending more and more time on a computer. Fine motor skills are still crucially important, as is penmanship, and this is a fun way to encourage kids to develop those skills.

  2. Get into the kitchen: At the beginning of the summer, have your kids figure out their favorite breakfast, lunch and dinner meals - and then, over the course of the summer, have them master creating each meal from scratch. So, if their favorite dinner is spaghetti, perhaps having them learn how to make the sauce from scratch. Then, get them each a receipe box and index cards so they can write down (again, practicing handwriting) their own notes and adaptations of the recipes they followed - this helps kids with their math, science, critical thinking and writing skills.

  3. Plan a weekly local excursion: Give each child a budget to plan an itinerary for a weekly day trip. If you live near a city, perhaps have them figure out all the public transportation options if the trip involves a museum or something similar. The trip could also involve the outdoors - you as a family can come up with a theme, or rotate (city museum one week, country hiking the next) each week. The key is that the child use their research skills to budget and plan the itinerary - which works on developing math, critical thinking and problem solving skills.

  4. Bring back the Traditional Family Board Game Night: Traditional Family Board Games like Yahtzee, Monopoly and Scrabble can be fun ways of encouraging learning - scrabble can work with vocabulary, and Yahtzee and Monopoly are all about strategy and critical thinking as well as basic math skills. Make it fun with popcorn and snacks and sitting around a circular table even for an hour can encourage conversation and communication as well as skill building.

  5. Create-A-Story Contest: Similar to an old camp game where kids went around and each wrote a sentence of a story and went around in a circle and had the next kid write the next sentence, and so on and so forth, until a creatively hilarious story was developed, work on a short story as a family this summer. As a family, pick a genre (sci-fi, sports, etc), and then have each person write a few paragraphs on the computer and then pass it on to the next person in the family. Kids can get really excited about this activity, and the whole family can get involved to see what happens next to the characters that they are collectively creating. This works on creative writing, critical thinking development.

About Ana Homayoun:
Ana Homayoun is the Founder and Director of Green Ivy Educational Consulting, an educational consulting firm that encourages junior high and high school students to create their own framework for academic and personal success. Since 2001, Green Ivy has helped hundreds of students improve their GPAs, raise their standardized test scores, and set and attain remarkable goals. A graduate of Duke University, Homayoun also holds a Masters Degree in Counseling from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Northern California. To read more about Ana Homayoun and Green Ivy Educational Consulting, visit

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