Kas Winters

Choose a Summer Project to Motivate a Child


Kas Winters
Mother of Family Ideas

Choose a Summer Project to Motivate a Child

by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™

With the end of school in sight, many parents are putting on their thinking caps trying to come up with ideas for keeping kids from being bored, and maybe even things students can do that will be both fun and educational during summer break. Since “bored” has always been a banned word in our family, we came up with summer projects that were matched to the interests of our children. It was a plan that worked for the kids and for us. We made many memories and expanded our knowledge and skills in the process. Here are some of the things we did. I hope that some will work for your family too.

Celebrate other Cultures! At the beginning of the summer, we picked a different country or culture for each of the three months of summer. The kids began to research  the country. We paid attention to maps, photos of the area, traditional dress, transportation, schools, toys and games children enjoyed, holidays, celebrations and many other things. At the end of the month, we found recipes that were from our chosen culture or country and prepared a meal including foods enjoyed there. We decorated the table in a representative way and spent time playing games that children is that area might enjoy. Some examples: We played games like Chinese Checkers and Parcheesi, The game of India. We flew kites and origami birds, made flambé pastries from French recipes, enjoyed fruits from Borneo, and danced Irish jigs. It was such fun! The bonus was that the planning kept our kids busy, interested and learning throughout the summer. Our activities also developed an appreciation of other people who do things differently than we do but have many similarities as well.

Start a new hobby or advance in one you already enjoy. There are so many possibilities. Match this activity to your child or children’s interests. (This summer our granddaughters are working on sewing their own teddy bears using fabric from special pajamas.) Sewing can include simple things like hair ties, useful items like tote bags or simple clothing. Our daughter started by making doll clothes. Young children like to play with fabric, scarves and ribbons to make their own “dress-up” costumes. Stitching has been fun too and ranges from running yarn pieces through plastic needlepoint  canvas to embroidery and more interesting techniques. Children feel a sense of accomplishment when they learn a new skill, and being able to wear or display something they sewed themselves is a terrific self-esteem builder.

Two current hobbies that interest kids are jewelry making and scrapbooking. Younger children (who are beyond the age of swallowing the beads), have fun stringing beads on pipe cleaners and it’s easy to do. Pre-teens make attractive necklaces and bracelets using embroidery floss or stretchy jewelry string. Scrapbooking has become very popular and is a wonderful way to preserve memories of happy times and special people. There are many sources for supplies and we’ve found ways to create our own scrapbooking fun without spending  much at all. Little kids can just cut pictures out of magazines and paste them onto paper. It teaches the use of tools from basic blunt scissors for youngsters to fancy scissors that cut patterns in paper and die-cutting equipment to make special shapes for the older kids.

Some of the hobbies our boys enjoyed included building with wood and other scrap pieces—making everything from toy cars to forts in the backyard. The rocket making and launching hobby was also popular. The boys loved to watch the launches and spent time designing some of their own rockets, model planes and spaceships over the years. They added a little research to some of this play, which was of benefit for science classes or even careers.

Before it gets too hot in the Arizona desert, encourage some outdoor projects too. Make an obstacle course for bicycles, hike a few trails with a canteen and a map, or ride a dirt bike in the desert. To give these activities more of a project feeling, add a pedometer for hiking and keep track of the miles walked all summer or use maps and mark each trail as it is conquered.

For more summer activities, go to my Winmark Communications/Everything Family Website at:

http://www.winmarkcom.com/summeractivities.htm or get a copy of my book, Mother Lode: The Ultimate Collection of Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy, at http://www.winmarkcom.com/motherlode.htm. Enjoy your summer!