Independence Day is a holiday rich with fireworks, food and fun. For students of all ages, the last two, food and fun, also offer an opportunity to enhance problem-solving skills. This July Fourth, consider integrating the five activities below into your festivities. Both you and your child are likely to enjoy yourselves, and he may not even realize he is learning.
Select a red, white and blue dessert, such as a cookie or cupcake, with your student. Then, modify it. Perhaps you require six cupcakes, but the recipe makes twelve. Perhaps you need four dozen cookies, and the recipe calls for twenty-four treats total. Allow your child to calculate the new amount of each ingredient (i.e. 6 cups of flour, not 3). This is an excellent opportunity to discuss ratios, as well as to practice simple arithmetic. The best part? You can celebrate your student's hard work with a tasty bite.
Festive paper is put to good use in this craft. Rather than hand your child a template for the spinning pinwheel, begin with a finished example. Invite him to examine the pinwheel from multiple angles or to deconstruct its shape. Finally, prompt your student to apply what he learns to his or her own pinwheel. While the result may not be perfect, your child will gain precious engineering experience during the process. You might also consider asking about your student's design decisions and/or building multiple pinwheel models, experimenting each time.
Ask your child to create an activity for your July Fourth guests. A crossword puzzle with an Independence Day theme challenges your student to exercise his historical knowledge and research skills. Guide your child with the following questions: "What do you know about the Fourth of July? What else can you discover? Where can you find this information?" Encourage your student to become an expert, and permit him to seek out resources (books, websites, etc.) independently. Your child can then help others solve his resulting crossword puzzle.
A fruit punch with distinct layers of red, white and blue is both educational and entertaining to mix and drink. Gather liquids with the appropriate colors (such as blueberry juice for blue and cranberry juice for red), then show your student online examples of the complete beverage. As you work to recreate it in your kitchen, question him or her on why the layers do not blend. (Hint: Drinks with higher sugar content are denser.) Your child may soon discover that a science project can have a sweet reward... pardon the pun.
Design a flag with repurposed household materials. Upcycling fosters creative thought, and it can eliminate clutter in your home. Allow your student to invent new use for faded cardboard and old ribbon, for example, and emphasize that no object is unsalvageable. Half the fun is often the hunt for adaptable items, so permit your child to freely explore. The more unusual the material, the harder his or her mind must work to incorporate it, and the broader his perspective becomes.
Problem-solving cannot exist without creativity, curiosity and flexible thought. Encourage all three with these five Independence Day activities for your student.
For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.
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