Beyond Summer Reading: Five Fun Ways to Keep The Whole Family Learning This Summer

I spent summers in camps growing up. All sorts of camps.  I went to a real deal basketball camp, even though I was just a mediocre player.  I went to bug collecting camp.  I still have no interest in bugs.  I took a cooking classes, coding classes, writing classes. I went to camp in the woods and camp at the beach. I actually went to a dairy camp… a camp about cows. All summer. I never stopped learning, but it wasn’t part of family time.  Here are five activities that you can do as a family to keep everyone laughing and learning… together.

1. Learn a new language.

We use Duolingo for languages, and the family is very competitive.  There is a point system that keeps all of us racing to learn the language faster than the next person. Right now we are still working through Spanish, so we change the language on the shows that we watch on Netflix, or change the subtitles.  The kids get really excited when they can understand what is being said or what is going on without having to read.  The kids play games and watch movies this summer, like they planned, but they are actually learning too.

Related: 5 Free Apps and Websites Homeschooling Families Can Use Every Day

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2. Pick a day for a family sports outing.

The days are longer in the summer so we have more time to spend with the family.  At the end of a regular work day, it can be tough to think about going out to play a sport.  If you can, put dinner in the crock pot in the morning, and pack it up for a picnic dinner at the driving range.  Find a nearby track or a park to walk off dinner.  If it is too hot outside and you worry about air quality like we do, you can still play a game of tennis indoors after dinner on an indoor court or on a game system like the Nintendo Switch or the Wii U.

You might need these:

Golf Clubs

Tennis Rackets

Nintendo Switch

Wii U

3. Click and paint.

At the end of the week, each person chooses a photograph that they have taken during the week to paint. Print out a favorite photo, then pull out paper, pencils, and paint, and recreate the photo as a painting. It is a lot of fun to compare your art work to your photograph, especially if it is a photo of a family member or a pet. We parents enjoy showing off our artistic skills (whether they actually exist or not). Who knows? You might find out that one of your kids is a really talented artist.

You might need:

Printer for under $60

Digital camera for kids

Washable Paint

4. Work through a recipe book.

With this one, the whole family benefits.  Cooking together provides a lot of laughs and, if it turns out well, good food.  Kids learn how to work together in the kitchen, food safety, the benefits of eating a variety of foods, and how heat, cold, and certain ingredients react with each other.  Our favorite one is the Good Housekeeping cookbook.  The recipes don’t always require special equipment, are simple enough, and have ingredients that aren’t difficult to find.

Take a look at these cookbooks:

Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook

The Good Housekeeping Step By Step Cookbook

Caribbean Vegan

Afro-Vegan Cookbook

5. Tell bedtime stories.

Being able to tell a good story is essential for adults and children whether you are reading it, or making it up as you go along.  We learned how to write paragraphs and organize paragraphs by telling stories in the car.  Adults need to be able to use stories to communicate effectively in the workplace, connect with co-workers, and give amazing presentations.  We take turns coming up with a topic for the storyteller on deck.  The story is made up on the fly and told in ten minutes or less.  Sometimes we tell “switch stories.”  For these, each person has either 10 seconds or 10 words to contribute to the story, and then it is the next person’s turn. They start where the last storyteller left off. These stories usually end up being hilarious.

Books to read aloud with your family:

Anancy’s Family Reunion

Island Days

Trapped in Dunston’s Cave

Related: 5 Caribbean Children’s Books for Your Young Reader’s Library

I hope that these tips are help your family to create fun, memorable learning experiences this summer.  What do you to do keep your family’s minds active in the summer months? Tell us in the comments.