Give Time for a Worthy Cause
This task could be combined with the beverage stand if proceeds benefit a local charity, but the lesson here is that your child should understand the need that is being met, the group meeting the need, and how they’re getting it done. Consider volunteering an hour repairing a local park, cleaning up trash on a roadside, or helping serve a meal at a food pantry. Local church groups often have lists of charities they help support, and volunteering is much more fun for your child if school friends are involved. Why not make it a party?
Connect With Nature in Your Backyard
You don’t have to drive for hours to take a hike and connect with nature; you can do it just as well in your backyard or at a local park. Plan a “mini-campout,” complete with a picnic, a simple outdoor game (think: kickball or kite-flying), and maybe a project with a lesson attached. Spread peanut butter into a pine cone and roll in bird seed, then hang your handmade bird feeder in a tree. Decorate a tree with dried apple rings and corn to feed the squirrels, or, for the more advanced, build a birdhouse or bat house for your backyard and explain why they’re important to humans.
Study a Favorite Animal
Let your child pick an animal to study: it could be that bird you’re hoping will move into your new birdhouse, the squirrels you fed at the park, your family pet, or a giraffe. Learn a few facts about the animal and its natural habitat, then plan a zoo trip to learn more. Bonus project: Let your child lead the family through the zoo using a map, and get some map-reading skills into the mix.
Donate Toys and Clothes to Charity
That clean room you started with will probably need a miracle at some point, so have a project for the entire family to box up items they no longer need. This lends itself to more organization, and can start a conversation with your child about those who are less fortunate. Donate the items you’ve gathered, and make it an event.
Take Them Shopping
Give kids a budget and a list, and offer gentle guidance as they learn how to shop using a budget. Involving your kids in their back-to-school or Christmas shopping may take a little more time, but it helps them understand the value of that new backpack or gift in relation to what portion of the budget they had to use to buy it. Bonus project: Offer allowances throughout the break for bonus chores, and require that kids use that money for their shopping, but give them more freedom on what items they choose to buy. They’ll better understand the value of a dollar (or five) if they know they had to scrub the toilet to earn it.
Learn a Piece of Local History
You pass that historical marker every day on the way to work, but have you ever stopped to read it? Make it a point to visit a local place of historical significance with your child, and learn more about your town’s history and culture. If you’re stumped about where to find local history, your library is an excellent source for information. Ask the librarian about places of interest. You might be surprise just how rich your city’s history really is.
Winding down a long school break doesn’t have to mean that the family stops learning together. Use your family’s own interests to plan weekend projects and excursions that can also teach valuable lessons, and include kids in the vagaries of everyday life. It will keep their brains engaged and learning, helping keep them entertained and maintaining the peace at home.