Activities to Try at Home

Activities to Try at Home

Encourage Independence and Responsibility

If your child is capable of doing a task independently, let them complete it on their own.  It might be done more quickly and more accurately if YOU do it, but doing everything for your child is not always helpful.  Children need to learn to overcome difficulties and frustrations, they need to learn to be problem solvers. They lose that opportunity to learn when parents jump in to help.  They also internalize it as, “I cannot do this on my own” or “I need help to be successful.” By allowing your child the chance to try on their own, their self talk sounds more like “My mom trusts me to do this myself!” and “I can do it!”  The following are some activities your child can do at home to build responsibility, independence, and self esteem. Image result for independent child

Teach your child to tie their shoes

I cannot tell you how often the words “your shoes are untied” come out of my mouth.  That said, the summer is a great time for kids to practice tying their shoes. There are tons of tutorials out there but you should definitely check out this one in particular.


Helping out around the home gives children a sense of accomplishment. Small chores around the house such as making their own bed, setting the table, or cleaning their room teaches responsibility.  

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“Research from a well-known 75-year Harvard study examined what psychosocial variables and biological processes from earlier in life predict health and well-being later in life. Researchers found that children who were given chores became more independent adults.” - Amy Morin, LCSW No automatic alt text available.


In conjunction with chores, you could have a list of other small jobs around the house that your child can do to earn small amounts of money.  Always give them their money in different kinds of coins and have them count it out to see if you give them the right amount. This also helps kids with self-esteem because they feel proud of themselves for helping.  They can also use their allowance as spending money for summer treats- like the ice cream truck.

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Give your child a plant to take care of.  They can learn responsibility by being responsible for watering it.  They can increase their observation skills as they watch it grow.

Washing the Car

Since it needs to be done anyway, let your kids help you wash your car.  They will enjoy the responsibility of helping to clean and will love the opportunity to play with the water.

Plan or Cook Meals Together

Baking and cooking in the kitchen involves responsibility, measuring, chemistry, and fun results! Talk about which ingredients are liquids and solids and why. Talk about mixtures and how the liquids and solids change. It also involves chemical reactions such as eggs or baking powder or yeast helping things to rise.  And of course- the fun results of being able to help their family and eat something delicious. (side note, my little cousin made the cake pictured)No automatic alt text available.

Having a yard sale?

If you have a yard sale this summer, take note of the learning opportunities this event can offer a child:  addition, subtraction, counting money.

Practice School Skills in an Authentic Way

Parents and teachers alike want students to retain their learned skills while on summer vacation.  But that does not mean they have to do worksheets or complete workbooks in order to keep learning. There are many authentic, real-life experiences that children can learn from while also having fun.  

Make your own chalk paint.  

This is one of my favorite activities to do with children.  Mix up ½ cup of cornstarch, ⅔ cup of water, and add food coloring.  Use a paint brush to paint on the ground; it dries like sidewalk chalk.  Play around with the cornstarch to water ratio and you also have oobleck!  If you use old plastic food containers, you can save anything you don’t use for next time.   Image result for chalk paint sidewalk

Watch Insects

In the spring, our school’s second graders get pet mealworms.  They watch them grow and LOVE their little critters. Let your child learn about insects through observation.  Kids can go out and catch their own bugs then create little terrariums for their insect friends to live in. There are also great kits that come with everything you need to support your insects through it’s different stages of life- including the insect himself.  

Play Board Games

Whenever students enter my office for the first time, they always ask, “why do you have so many games?”  I tell them it’s because I like games. But also, it is because board games teach important skills like cooperation, good sportsmanship, and strategic thinking.  Games like Jenga help build executive function skills.  Work on planning and problem solving with games like Ticket to Ride (there’s a kids version!).  Practice math by playing games like 24 or Phase 10.  Try fun word games like Scrabble, Bananagrams, Boggle, or Apples to Apples.  Card games like Skip Bo, Phase 10, and Uno are also great.

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Write in a Journal

Give your child a notebook or journal to record his/her summer memories.  Glue in pictures or things like ticket stubs. It’s excellent writing practice and will help them when school rolls around and they need ideas for Writer’s Workshop.

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Send Snail Mail

Have your child practice their writing skills by writing letters to friends and family.  Have your child use full sentences, ask questions, and give details. It’s a great way to keep in touch and an authentic way to practice writing.  

Keep a Wonder Notebook

At the end of each day, reflect on something that made you Stop - Look - Think - Wonder. It could be a cloud in the shape of a butterfly, a rock in the shape of a heart, a hug from mom because they helped in the sweetest manner, spotting a friend on the playground. This practice encourages mindfulness and appreciation of the small moments.  The added bonus is that their notebook becomes a springboard for Writer's Workshop and encourages comprehension and vocabulary for Reading Workshop. For Kindergarten a picture with labels and as the children grow in ability a word or sentence to explain the moment.


Whenever I go anywhere that I know I will have to wait (the doctor’s office, airport, Honda), I bring a book.  Instead of bringing an iPad, encourage your child to bring a book when you go out. If it’s nice out, read outside.  Read to your child before bed, or have an older child read to a younger child before bed (this also encourages sibling bonding).  Check out MrsBrooksLovesBooks for great book recommendations!

Take a break from screens and play outside

Go for a bike ride, rollerblade, or skateboard.  Hang out at the playground or go for a walk. When it’s dark out, it doesn’t mean you can’t play outside.  Break out the flashlights and play flashlighttag or catch some fireflies

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Play with friends

Social skills are as important to learn as academic skills.  Let your child invite a friend over for a playdate. To help your child prepare, help them brainstorm possible activities ahead of time. Instead of planning activities for the kids to do, let them engage in unstructured free play.

***Let your child be bored!!***

Do what you need to do and leave your child to his own devices, and I don’t mean tech devices.  Boredom encourages creativity. Give your child time each day for unstructured free play. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of activities that arose from boredom.  Building tents out of blankets, playing “the floor is lava,” making up games, implementing a rule that everything you said in the kitchen meant the opposite of what you were actually saying - all made possible through boredom.

“Children need to sit in their own boredom for the world to become quiet enough that they can hear themselves. It is only when we are surrounded by nothing that something comes alive on the inside.” - Dr. Vanessa LaPointe

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