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7 Sun-themed projects to do with kids over summer break

Julia Christensen is an experienced tutor and professional writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.

Keep the kids learning over break with these educational sun-themed projects

School is out (or almost out) for the summer! But who says learning has to stop for the season? With the weather heating up, here are seven sun-themed projects sure to get your child ready for summer.

1. Create sun paper art

Create scenes by placing found objects on construction paper and leaving it out in the sun. The color will fade around the objects over time, leaving the image of what was placed on top. For a quicker project, try doing this with special sun-sensitive paper. Items with distinctive edges, like leaves or flowers, should make interesting subjects.

2. Study mirages

Next time you see a mirage on the road, ask your child if she sees it, too. Does she think there will be a pond up the way, like it looks from where you are? Mirages are created because of the varying refractive indexes of different temperatures of air. Do some research together on mirages, and find out more about how that imaginary body of water, or other, more clear reflection, appears.

3. Trace shadows

Ask your child if she knows why shadows change in size. Can she guess why her shadow is sometimes short, while other times it is long and thin? Spend a day measuring shadows by tracing the shadow of an inanimate object with chalk at different times. An object with simple edges, such as a bottle, works well. At the end of the day, see how much the shadow moved and changed.

4. Make something solar powered

Help your student understand how the power of the sun can be harnessed for energy by trying out a children's solar power kit. For about $20 (and up) you can purchase a solar power kit for your child, which can help future scientists and inventors practice earth-friendly engineering.

5. Craft a pinhole camera

For older students, try making a lens-less camera out of an old shoebox. This is called a pinhole camera, or camera obscura. Tutorials are available on a variety of websites, but the directions are nearly the same. First, paint the inside of a light-proof box black, then poke a hole with a pin in one side. Attach a paper flap to cover the light. While hidden from the light, place photo paper inside the box opposite the hole. Set your pinhole camera down, open the "lens cover" flap and let the light inside to create your photo. Cover the pinhole to stop the photo; you now have a negative inside! Develop your photo in an at-home darkroom, such as a bathroom or closet. Try changing the photo type by using a curved container, such as a paint can.

6. Make a suncatcher

Let the sun shining in your windows bring a bit of color! While there are a variety of ways to create a suncatcher at home, two popular options include using wax paper or melted, inexpensive plastic beads. Once the project is done, find the sunniest window in the house and hang it up!

7. Capture the sunrise or sunset

Try intertwining your child's passions with this project. If your student is an avid reader, ask her to write about the sunrise using plenty of descriptive words. For a hands-on child, give her some watercolors and ask her to paint it for you. A tech-loving preteen might practice digital photography skills using the sunset as a subject. The options for this muse are endless!

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

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