Recently, I wrote on my personal blog about all of the things I am trying to do to keep my kids from watching television for 10 hours a day over the summer. There will be books and writing and physical fitness, but I am really looking forward to our science goal: we will be conducting weekly science experiments/projects as a family.
I told the kids that I would start by choosing a few activities, but I hope that they will choose some as we go on with the summer. I told a good friend about our goals, and she picked up the latest issue of Wired Magazine for me, with Adam Savage on the cover, and I am so glad she did. While I could wish they called the article “How to Be a Geek Parent,” there are many great projects in there, from building an artbot to cooking up glow worms to making electric playdough to making a hovercraft. The kids are obviously excited about the hovercraft, but the electric playdough is almost as exciting to my 9 year old son. Good thing, too–it will probably take me a while to amass the supplies and tools to do the hovercraft, although a friend did volunteer an unused leaf blower for the project. This is going to be a growth project for me, taking my power tool skills well past their current limit, ;).
Looking at Wired magazine reminded me of the awesome Make magazine, first because of their Maker Shed, which is a quick easy way to get geeky project supplies, and also because they have many cool projects on that site as well. I particularly want to spend some time this summer exploring the world of Arduino, about which I have heard many cool things, but I know virtually no actual facts.
Although the websites for both magazines are very cool, and in fact, they provide more details on many of the projects that are just quickly outlined in the magazines, I have decided we need subscriptions to the actual paper magazines. When my children get on the internet, the pull of Netflix and online games are easily able to overcome any desire to look at cool science projects. Having the magazines to look over first and get excited about things will help to overpower that urge to just veg out or game all the time.
I am not opposed to some relaxing and gaming, but I want some other options, too. Summer should be a fun time for kids, more relaxing than the school year, but it is too long to just turn off their brains entirely. Summer is a great time for kids to choose things they want to learn more about and do some self-guided learning. Or, you know, to be forced into it by their mothers.
Anyone planning fun projects with their kids this summer? Please share ideas, resources and projects!