Kas Winters
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Schools Almost Out Learn Something Anyway

Schools Almost Out Learn Something Anyway

Kas Winters

Kas Winters

Pick a country or a culture and create your own fun by learning about it. There are so many things of interest, and each can provide memorable family activities and keep kids interested. Here are some examples of things children can do that are free or inexpensive, don’t require a lot of parent time, will let imaginations flourish, and creativity develop. The culture/country in this example is ancient Egypt which includes history, geography, arts, architecture and so much more. Here are some of the activities we’ve done that relate to this topic.

Prepare and enjoy a special Egyptian meal. Include foods that grow in that country such as dates, grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, cucumbers, pistachios, and oranges. Buy pita bread at the grocery store or find a authentic recipe for Egyptian flatbread and encourage an older child to bake some for dinner. Depending on their ages, children might even do the cooking. Younger children can roll their favorite cooked veggies in a store-bought pita and enjoy eating it. (The idea is to let children learn, not to keep mom busy with extra projects.)

Make a pyramid or obelisk! Use poster-board, cardboard, Styrofoam, or blocks. Use four poles tied together at the top and cover them with a sheet to make a pyramid tent. Decorate a cardboard or foam obelisk with hieroglyphics. Read about the religious beliefs and significance, including belief in an afterlife, involved with these constructions.

Discover communication using hieroglyphics. Even young children can make up their own simple drawings and use them to tell a story. Let older children, research and find actual symbols from ancient times and then write stories using these hieroglyphics. Make up “secret codes” using the characters. For children too young to grasp this concept, just provide crayons and paper and let them draw pictures.

Masks were used in ancient Egypt and most children like making their own versions. Use paper mâché, paper plates, paper bags, or foam core board. Decorate them with crayons, paint, or pasted pieces of colored paper. It’s all fun.

Jewelry was important too and gold jewelry and decorations were highly valued. For fun, string painted pieces of macaroni together to make necklaces. (Larger pieces can break and have sharp edges, so avoid these as well as tiny shapes that can be a choking hazard for young children.) Crowns can be fashioned with foil. Play Egyptian dress-up wearing large white T-shirts, and put on your own play about ancient pharaohs.

Snakes, especially cobras, were very important in this culture. Look for pictures and stories about them and share with the family. Many children are fascinated with these creatures.

Mummies! These fascinate most ages. We’ve used a couple of rolls of gauze with a willing participant and made our own temporary mummy. It generated plenty of giggles and taught history too. (Be sure to leave an opening for the child’s nose and mouth. Breathing is important.)

Discover historical facts and probabilities about Ramses, King Tut, Cleopatra and other well-known people who lived in ancient Egypt.

Read books about the country or historical time you choose. Find information and more activities on the web. Not only will children learn about history and other cultures, there is a chance they will develop a fascination with leaning more about these topics. The activities will create a sense of accomplishment, improve skills, increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of other cultures and history. (As a bonus: what we know, we do not fear. That makes a basis for understanding and even appreciating one another’s differences.)

For more “school’s out” activities, go to my Everything Family Website at:

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