Planning activities for the family isn’t easy.
Balancing different interests, keeping a budget and finding time in busy schedules can be maddening. Ensuring the family makes the most of the time they do have is (honestly) a herculean task.
On top of that, as kids are growing up it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity for learning. The lessons learned on family adventures are ones that will last a lifetime, so you need to make the most of them.
Not to worry, we’ve collected some of the best learning activities for kids growing up. We’ve got ideas that not only make learning fun, but help you create great memories with your kids.
As you plan, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Safety is always important and should be top of mind as you plan activities. We’re not just talking about physical safety, but also house safety (and parent sanity safety!). Look for activities where you have a level of control and identify risk factors early so you can prepare before things get out of hand.
If an activity doesn’t have the fun factor, kids will find everything they can to get out of it. Consider what the child likes and try to link the activity to something you know they will enjoy. Make fun a focus of the activity and the learning will come naturally.
Finding activities that focus on a good lesson or a key learning moment will help make for a memorable experience. Ask kids what they learned during the activity, and you may be surprised at the answers. By asking questions and working through the activity with kids, the learning should come naturally.
Not every activity in the list below will appeal to every child. Not everything may work in your area, and that’s okay. Pick and choose the activities that work for you.
Let’s get started…
Nature walks are a great way to get out of the house (even when quarantining) and have some fun, while incorporating a little learning along the way. Bring a guide to trees, birds, flowers or more on the walk, and let the kids identify the plants and animals they find along the way. Turn a simple hike in the woods into a scavenger hunt by having children find things like a robin or a specific tree.
Tip: Teaching kids about conservation and protecting nature, and how important wildlife is in the world, are important lessons to accompany the nature walk.
Writing and performing is not only a lot of fun for kids, but it can also give their creativity and memory a workout. Start the activity by brainstorming a fun story with them, then let them write the lines and script the action. Even younger kids can take easier roles in the play, often becoming the star of the show. Finally, the kids can perform the play. This is not only a fun activity for the whole family but performing in front of a crowd can be a great confidence booster, too.
Tip: Designing costumes and building the set are important and fun activities that go along with performing a play.
For little kids, freeform dance is not only fun, but great exercise as well. As kids get older, learning set dance pieces can help improve motor skills, balance and muscle memory. It can also help with discipline and teach great practice habits. Older kids can find the song and choreograph the dance, while you can work with younger kids to find the music and design the dance. Once they learn the dance moves, the kids can perform for the family. Afterwards, they can teach the dance to their parents.
Tip: Find a local dance studio, team or coach to learn new dances or continue their lessons.
With so much going on in the world, life can be overwhelming, especially for younger kids. Planting a garden can be not only a fun learning activity, but also a great way for kids to regain a little control of their world. In the spring, they can work in a corner of the yard. Let them prepare the ground, select what they put in the garden, and learn how to take care of the plants. Even in winter, or when space for a garden is difficult to find, you can create a small container garden where you can plant herbs or flowers year round. Let them pick and eat what they’ve grown or gift a flower to a friend or loved one.
Tip: Set up a chart or calendar where the kids can track the progress of their garden.
Letting kids plan and cook a meal can be empowering and teach lessons that will last a lifetime, as well as being lots of fun. Start out by planning a menu. Have the children think about what they want and let them do research on a meal. Set out guidelines for them, for example, at least two fruits or vegetables and one protein. Once they have their menu, set a budget and plan a trip to the store where they can buy ingredients. This not only teaches lessons on food and nutrition, but also how to cook. Hopefully, kids will be a little more appreciative of all the hard work that goes into cooking!
Tip: Younger kids may have trouble with some of the cooking steps, like cooking over a burner or using a knife, so make sure you have activities they can do while preparing the meal.
As kids grow up, technology is going to become a greater force in their lives. Letting kids build and design their own website not only teaches them valuable technology lessons but can also teach them how to be safe when they are online. Start by asking them what they want to be a focus of their website. Maybe it’s a place for them to show off their art, or they can talk about themselves and their interests. Let them plan out the site and set up a list of what needs to be done once they complete the project.
Tip: Once the site is live, you can restrict access to the site from search engines, so only those people who know the address can find it.
The inspiration for a fun learning activity can come at any time.
We suggest keeping a notebook with great ideas. Cut out articles in the newspaper or print out emails or web pages to map out future activities. Keep lists, so when you do have family time you can make the most out of the opportunity.
Over time, as the family starts having fun on every adventure, the ideas for new activities will start flowing and you’ll be prepared.
Get out there and have some fun!