Kids love animals, and they love the zoo. Why not make your zoo trip into an educational experience as well? Talk to your kids ahead of time about the animals they might see. Check out books from the library and read them at home before you go. Have your child generate a list of questions about a particular animal, and then see if the questions are answered in the informational plaques at the zoo. Bring a notebook and find a place to sit down to compose a poem or story about the animals. Count the animals in different sections of the zoo and create graphs or word problems based on what you find. The opportunities for learning at the zoo are endless.
2. The amusement park
Have your child research the history of your local amusement park. Look up the prices ahead of time and ask him or her to calculate the amount it will cost for the whole family to enter. When you are at the amusement park, keep track of the different types of rides to create a graph later on. Take photos and use them for writing inspiration at home. Kids love to write about amusement parks, so while you are there, talk about what you notice and encourage your child to think about the sounds, smells, and experiences in the amusement park. Make a photo book at home and read it with your child.
3. The library
This may seem like an obvious one, but you can actually capitalize on your library trip to improve your child’s reading, writing, and math skills in unique ways. Practice choosing just-right books, by making child that your child is interested in the books and struggles with no less than 2 words per page and no more than 5 words per page. Talk about topics your child wants to explore and check out books on those topics. Encourage your child to write an ebook or create a book about the topics. Make learning fun! Math is everywhere, including the library. See if your child can estimate the number of books per shelf. When you get your receipt, have him or her calculate the number of weeks before your book is due.
4. The park
When you go to the park, look around. Notice all of the growth and wildlife. Talk to your children about life cycles. Visit the park frequently and discuss the differences you see each time. Keep track of the different types of animals you find. Bring a notebook and write stories and poems under the shade of a tree. Time your kids sliding down slides, making a complete arc on the swings, and running across fields. Talk to them about the number of seconds in a minute and how long different actions take. Ask them to estimate times and see how accurate they can be.
5. Farmers markets
In Denver, there are tons of farmers markets throughout the summer. Use them as opportunities to talk about healthy eating. Have your child choose the fruits and veggies, estimate the weights and calculate the costs. When you get home, look up healthy recipes and read them with your child. Create tasty, nutritious dishes together. If you don’t use a recipe, have your child write down the steps you used to create your food. Write a homemade recipe book. Then make copies to sell to friends and neighbors. Your child can count the money and either calculate how much he or she needs to purchase a wanted item, or donate it to a worthy cause.