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Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or school administrator, we know you’re constantly on the lookout for teachable moments to introduce new information and to teach new lessons to your students or children. All throughout summer break, you’re likely to engage in a number of activities that present multiple opportunities for teachable moments. Being mindful of these opportunities before they occur is the best way to ensure you get the most out of every situation and teach your kids as much as possible this summer break. Here are some of the top teachable moments, based on classic summer activities, that you can embrace during summer break.
Road trips are full of opportunities to teach your kids valuable and educational lessons. If you have little kids in the car, encourage them to find letters and numbers on license plates, road signs, and buildings. Go through the entire alphabet or see how many numbers you can find in sequential order. If your kids are a little older, the classic state license plate game is always fun. Print a list of all the states and see how many different license plates you can find. To delve even deeper, teach your kids about gas mileage, what it means to go a particular speed, how maps work, and more. Teach them about elevation changes, county and state lines, and different historical events that happened in particular areas you’re traveling through.
Many families love to vacation at the beach during the summer, and you can easily find multiple teachable opportunities during a beach trip. Talk about UV radiation and why it’s important to wear sunblock. Discuss the difference between an ocean, a lake, a pond, a gulf, and more. Explore marine biology and the different types of animals in the ocean or in the sand. Maybe you could even go fishing or go searching for crabs at night! Talk about high tide and low tide and how they occur, and teach your kids about the moon’s influence on tides. Discuss erosion and how sand comes about, find seashells and talk about where they come from or what animals live in shells, and talk about the difference between saltwater and freshwater and why they are both important.
Amusement parks are full of opportunities to teach physics, among other things. Even for your youngest students, exploring how a roller coaster works or why you get pulled into your seat when you go through a loop can be incredibly interesting and educational. Discuss concepts like force, friction, acceleration, inertia, velocity, and gravity. Talk about how different rides use different physics concepts to make the rides fun yet safe, and encourage your kids to pay close attention to the mechanics of the different rides that they see or ride on.
While not all kids are going to be able to help with yard work (and many of them may not do so willingly), having kids help with lawn care, lawn maintenance, gardening, and more can be very educational. Not only will they see how much hard work goes into growing vegetables or keeping a yard looking nice, but they can also explore the chemistry of getting rid of weeds, learn how to test and prepare soil for planting vegetables, and take note of how grass grows more or less quickly based on the weather. A simple earth science lesson can teach kids about what makes plants grow and get them interested in planting flowers, pruning bushes, and pulling weeds.
Remember that teachable moments don’t just include teaching about school subjects. Life skills are a huge part of what parents teach their kids, and that includes doing grown-up jobs and taking on some adult responsibilities. For your younger children, get them involved in the grocery shopping. Have them write the list, read it to you at the store, keep track of prices as you put items in the cart, and compare prices as you select which product to buy. Explain to them the importance of budgeting and how to look at prices to determine the best option for your family. You can even teach your kids about health when you’re at the grocery store. Teach them how to read nutrition labels, what types of foods to avoid, and what foods are better for them.
DIY Home Projects
Even if you’re not the handiest or the craftiest, you likely have a handful of projects to complete around the house this summer. Whether you’re building something, reupholstering furniture, or painting, get your children involved and embrace those teaching opportunities. Teach them how to measure and cut wood, allow them to do the math to ensure something fits in a particular space, or let them explore how a sewing machine works. They may discover a love for engineering, a desire to learn more about architecture, or you may realize that they have an incredibly artistic eye. Kids love to feel like they’re helping out and they really enjoy feeling like they had a part in completing a project around the house, so don’t hesitate to let them get involved and learn while they’re helping.
Cooking & Baking
There is so much science involved in cooking and baking, and kids usually love getting involved in anything that happens in the kitchen! Whether you’re talking about water turning into ice cubes or a bunch of ingredients turning into a cupcake, kids love to pour and mix and watch things change in the oven. Talk about chemical reactions, such as why yeast dissolves in water, why and how food burns when it’s cooked too long, or how Jello gets so jiggly. Remember that not all lessons have to be school and academic based. Any skill your kids learn that help them succeed in life is important and worth taking the time to teach.
Museum visits are educational in and of themselves. They are an easy way to get your kids interested in something educational, whether that’s science, history, or art. Encourage them to choose the museum you go to and let them ask questions about things they don’t understand, and foster their interest in academic subjects.
Hiking & Camping
A classic summer activity like hiking or camping is sure to bring about a myriad of teachable moments. Looking at weather patterns to ensure a rain-free trip, mapping out a hiking route, spending time fishing, or learning how to build a fire are all fun and educational activities that will teach your kids valuable things while they have fun. Go on a nature hike and talk about the various plants and animals. Explore the stars and learn about constellations at night. No matter what teachable opportunities you encounter while hiking, camping, fishing, or just playing outside, your students will remember the lessons more when they have fun in the midst of them.