Tag Archives: Summer learning

Avoid the Dreaded B-Word: 10 Ideas to Fight Tween Boredom

I was recently invited to share a post with the Savvy Auntie community with ideas for summer fun, and I thought I’d repost here in hopes you’ll be inspired to make the most of these last few weeks of summer!  Here’s a link to my original article, which I’ve re-posted here:

Keeping kids entertained as the lazy days of summer drag on can be a challenge – and tweens can be a particularly tough crowd.  There are few phrases as cringe-inducing for an auntie as a whiny, “I’m booooooored!”  While sidewalk chalk and a garden sprinkler could be all it takes to remedy this for a younger audience, finding creative ways to entertain tweens takes a bit more ingenuity.

While it is important to encourage overscheduled kids to work through boredom on their own from time to time, a Savvy Auntie armed with fun ideas can be a hero when the B-Word looms large!  Here are some creative ideas to keep in your back pocket:

Cross Train Your Brain

Get in the Olympic spirit with a Brain Decathlon.  Gather a collection of 10 logic and reasoning puzzles and set up a rotation for an afternoon of brain fitness. Tweens build confidence, creativity, and problem solving skills… but they’ll think it’s all fun and games!

Become a YouTube Sensation

As the countless videos of cats playing piano illustrate, anyone with a smartphone or flip cam can create and share video with the world.  Film your niece’s rendition of Call Me Maybe using sock puppets or your nephew wowing the world with magic tricks… you never know what will go viral!

Play With Your Food

Tie on your aprons and have fun with food!  Challenge tweens to an Iron Chef-style competition, with a secret ingredient each must incorporate into three dishes.  Cheese, bananas, sprinkles… you choose the twist and provide cookbooks or food magazines for inspiration. Let tweens plan menus, make a grocery run, and get cooking!  Invite friends over and present your creations to a Judge’s Table.

Get PINspired!

Pinterest is a goldmine for creative craft ideas!  Check out some great DIY boards from Makedo, ThinkFun, and Babble and choose your next crafting adventure together.

Stalk the Wild Cupcake

Put your sweet tooth to the test and track down the best cupcake in town.  Conduct site visits and taste tests, taking notes and narrowing down the finalists.  Surprise the winning shopkeeper with a special award you design and present!

Super-Size Me

Even the typical toothbrush is riveting when its 6 feet long!  Stock up on supplies like recycled bottles, wire hangers, newspaper, and paint, and create a large-scale version of an everyday small object.  Get messy with paper mache, and add buttons, cotton balls, yarn and other found objects as decorations.  Turn your living room into a gallery and invite neighbors over for the grand opening.

Mini Golf Masters

With a little creativity, mini golf becomes much more than swiping a ball into a clown’s mouth. Scout out local courses (or pools, arcades, whatever destination most excites you) and spend the week visiting several, clipboard in hand.  Set criteria for evaluating – quality of hot dogs at the snack bar, ball color options, etc. – and create an insider guide to the best of the best!

Opposite Day

Ridiculousness knows no bounds when you commit to a day where nothing works as it should.  Start your day with a spaghetti dinner, read a magazine back to front, only respond to your name when said backwards… let tweens see how far they can take the theme!

Move Over Frommer’s

Create your own guidebook to your town.  This fun activity will help visiting nieces and nephews explore your city or get to know their own hometown better.  Take walks to find little-known landmarks – or invent your own!  Use an online photo service to create a hardcover guidebook filled with your pictures, captions, and funny anecdotes.

Old Movie Night

Let your tween pick the film – the catch is it has to be from the 1970s or earlier. Have fun in the kitchen preparing retro snacks like pineapple upside-down cake for the ‘50s or fondue for the ‘60s and enjoy some wholesome (and tasty!) family fun.


What activities do your tweens love?  Please share your ideas here and help build the Tween Toolkit!

Calling all Savvy Aunties…

As a proud auntie myself, I was honored to share this recent “Aunt Camp” article on playful summer learning with the Savvy Auntie community!

If you’re new to Savvy Auntie, this site is the first and only community for Aunts – a group that includes Aunties by Relation (ABR), Aunties by Choice (ABC), Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and all women who love kids!  This site is designed to empower Aunts to exchange ideas, get advice, find gifts and connect with other Savvy Aunties!

Growing up, summers always included a fun-filled week with my own amazing aunt, and I hope this piece encourages other fun-loving aunties to engage their families in some brain-building summer fun!  Enjoy!

My sweet nephew Hunter, enrolling in Aunt Camp Summer 2014!

Also, mark your calendars for July 22nd for the 4th annual celebration of Auntie’s Day!


Stop Summer Slide!

A steady 10 week summer diet of tv and cannonballs in the pool can do a lot more damage than we realize. Referred to as Summer Slide or Brain Drain, learning loss is inevitable when kids go long stretches without engaging in learning experiences. Most students lose an average of 2 months of math skills, and low income students are at far greater risk, falling behind an average 2-3 months in reading skills.

The good kind of "summer slide!"

“So what can we do?!” concerned parents ask at end-of-year conferences. While hiring tutors or enrolling in summer school programs are great choices for some, for many families any teaching that happens over the summer months falls to the parents, and putting on that Teacher Hat can be a daunting prospect!

As teachers, it’s easy enough to provide parents with worksheets, reading logs, and math drills, but this can easily backfire and set families up for a summer of battles. Parents often feel they need to structure learning as “sit down and finish 3 workbook pages,” prying kids from a fun activity and making learning time the equivalent of force-feeding brussel sprouts.

Leaping... Learning... how about a bit of both?!

The key to helping parents support their child’s continued growth over the summer is giving them the tools to make it fun and seamless, and there are great ideas out there! Need inspiration? Check out this family’s Garage Olympics – learning is EVERYWHERE here, but when bubbles and sprinklers are involved it hardly feels like a math class!

With some creativity, the possibilities for fun summer learning are endless, yet the transition from flashcards to hopscotch multiplication is often a stretch.

Teachers and Parents… Please share your ideas!

What can parents do to help their young learners stay on track over the summer… without sacrificing summer fun?  Sharing your tips by commenting below!

Summer Boredom Busters | Garage Olympics

Help! My kids are driving me C-R-A-Z-Y this summer!

As a mom of 3 kids: ages 6, 9 and 12 I totally GET how hard it is to keep kids busy, active and far away from the dreaded ‘B’ word! “I’m bored!” can be the hardest statement to hear… ALL SUMMER LONG…

This is my third year creating a Summer Boredom Buster series. Along the same creative lines of ThinkFun.com and SmartPlayBlog; I love finding ways to insert the ‘learning while playing’ kind of philosophy.

This year I’m featuring a Science Series! We started out with a Bug week and upcoming ideas include learning about small easy to make machines with levers and pulleys, a Gross Out week, and a How your Body Works week (learning about healthy foods in the bargain!).

Examples From Previous Summers:

Recently we held a Garage Olympics.

  • FIRST we worked up a super duper Lemonade Stand & Snow Cone station.

Complete with a giant poster and all the neighborhood kids we could locate! (We borrowed the snow cone maker – maybe your local school has one you can use?) Each Summer we run 3-4 lemonade stands and the kids choose a local organization to donate their proceeds. This summer we will donate to our town’s Foster Care Foundation.

  • SECOND we set up a Bubble Station.

You can divide up the kids at this point and move from station to station in cycles, but we found it was more fun in a big group! One person blows the bubbles and the kids attempt to pop all of them before any hit the ground. And then they tried to catch a bubble on their tongue! We talked about what bubbles are made of and they experimented with different ways to blow them and fun items around the house to make giant bubbles or tiny bubbles.

  • THIRD we played “write your name in water”.

We used dollar store water guns, but spray bottles would work too. They had to figure out the best way to hold the water guns, determine which way the wind was blowing, and we also talked about evaporation on a hot day. The best part was getting each other wet of course!

  • LAST we had a combined ball toss/sprinkler/water-bucket brigade.

This was mainly designed to get everyone soaking wet. But it also kept them active and taught them a few things. They learned how hard it is to toss a lightweight ball when the wind is blowing. And that a plastic bucket stands up better when it has a weight in it. Plus water cools you down on a hot summer day. We talked about the evaporative properties of water and how animals use water to cool off as well!

What ideas will you and your kids come up with for a summer time Garage Style Olympics!?

Carissa blogs at GoodNCrazy.com, and writes a parenting column for BlissfullyDomestic.com.