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5 Last-chance summer activities for your child

Caroline Duda has years of experience as an SAT tutor for Varsity Tutors. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The summer isn't over yet! Explore these activities with your student to encourage some last-minute summer learning and enjoyment before the school year begins.

The long month of August: While the start of the school year is now within sight, it may still seem painfully distant. Your student is understandably anxious to see his or her friends, and by now, the appeal of summer camp and other such organized events may very well have faded. Your child complains that he or she is bored, but what are you to do? How can you effectively capture your student's interest?

With intriguing activities, of course! Here are five to try this month with your student.

1. Indoor laser course

Perhaps your child fancies him- or herself a secret agent. Encourage your student to hone his or her abilities with an indoor laser challenge. String red yarn through a small space, such as a hallway, to create a course that your child must carefully twist and tumble through, without disturbing the "lasers." He or she will benefit from a heightened sense of body awareness and the opportunity to employ his or her motor skills.

2. Life-size Bananagrams

With supplies as simple as large cardboard squares and white paint, students can exercise their vocabularies with an interactive lawn game of Bananagrams. For maximum enjoyment, pair young children with older students (or adults), then watch their imaginations flourish. Physically manipulating letters and words is an excellent method to reinforce your student's core literacies before school begins again, as such kinesthetic activities can serve to clarify those concepts that may be confusing in lectures or in textbooks.

3. Story sack

Occasionally, rain ruins our best outdoor summer plans. When this happens, place a dozen items (a crayon, a marble, a stuffed animal) in a drawstring bag. The items need not be related to one another. Ask your child to blindly select one, then prompt him or her to begin a story about it; perhaps the stuffed animal is a former prince. With each new item, your student can continue to build upon his or her tale.

4. Geocaching

While geocaching requires close adult supervision (as with all activities, exercise safety first and foremost), it is an entertaining means by which to teach children navigation. Geocaching is essentially a large-scale scavenger hunt, and participants utilize websites like OpenCaching (which is free of charge) to obtain the coordinates of a "treasure", typically a logbook that they are free to sign. Students learn directional sense, as well as problem-solving, while searching for caches in their neighborhoods or towns.

5. Bread making

Include your child in your kitchen activities. Bread making, for instance, can instruct your student in the science of chemical reactions. What happens when warm water meets yeast? Why must bread dough rise before we can bake it? Bread is a delicious introduction to the importance of patience (and its own reward for careful attention to detail). Baking also serves as an authentic lesson in measurement, which features prominently in certain elementary math standards.

Soon, summer vacation will be nothing more than a fond memory. Enjoy these and other activities before the first day of school arrives.

For more tips and strategies to help your student succeed in school, visit www.varsitytutors.com.

Photo credit: 4774344sean/iStock/360/Getty Images
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