The end of school is in sight, and while your children are itching to put away their school books and head to the pool or the park, you're hoping to sneak in a little bit of learning during summer break.
Getting your children to cooperate may seem like an impossible task - unless you try these fun hands -on learning games that will have even your older kids giving it a try:
1) Sugar cube transfer
A simple pair of kitchen tongs, two cups, and sugar cups, are all you need for this game. Your child uses the kitchen tongs to transfer the sugar cubes from one cup to the other. If your child can't resist eating the sugar cubes, you can use small Legos instead. You can also make this game harder by using tweezers instead of tongs.
2) Nail cutting
Kids love this game because it turns what is often a mildly uncomfortable experience into a chance to show off their cutting skills. Trace your child's hands on a plain piece of paper, making sure to draw in the nails and the nailbeds.
If you're using a computer you can get fancy and color in the nails, or you can just make several copies of each hand and print that out. Cut out the hands (you can cut out several pages at one time).
Next, give your child a pair of nail scissors or nail cutters, and show her how to use them. Provide a plastic plate for her to cut over, and show her how to dispose of her "nails" in the garbage.
3. Sorting rice
This one is not just fun, but practical as well. Buy a bag of rice, and pour some onto a plate. Show your child how to recognize the rice that is discolored (more than is usual for for rice), and provide a container for her to put it in. Let her put the "clean" rice in a separate bowl.
4. Polishing money
Children especially enjoy watching a dull copper penny transform into a shiny, new coin. Prepare a solution of 3 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice in a cup, and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
Have your child place the penny inside, swirl the cup with the penny inside around gently. Let your child take out the penny, and dry it off carefully with a soft cloth. Although it's not technically polishing, kids still enjoy carefully wiping the pennies clean.
5. Bead sorting
This is a good use for all of the beads you may have lying around from an old jewelry making set. If you don't already have one, you can easily buy one at the dollar store.
Mix up all the beads, and let your child use the container they come in to sort them. There are all sorts of ways to sort the beads-by color, by shape, and even by the size of the hole inside.
6. Smearing plasticine
Plasticine is quite different from play dough. It is harder, and less pliable when cool, but when it's warmed up from playing it can be easily manipulated.
First warm up the plasticine by rolling it into a ball, and kneading it for a minute or two. You'll see and feel the difference when it softens up. Then, give your child a piece of paper with a shape drawn on it, and place a glob of plasticine on top.
Show your child how to smear the plasticine on his paper by starting from the middle of the glob and smearing it outwards. It will take some work, but it's great for helping strengthen those finger muscles. Your child can experiment by adding different colors onto the original, creating tie-die like swirls and patterns.