Summer breaks are notoriously lazy months. I remember looking forward to days of sleeping in and weeks without exams. My young son feels the same way, but I balance his long mornings with these educational activities so he never stops learning. They’re perfect opportunities for single dads like me to bond with their kids and engage their children’s minds while their classes don’t require all their brain power.

1. Enjoy an Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Warm weather and sunny days create the best conditions for outdoor scavenger hunts. I like taking my son to public gardens with a list of things he has to find before we get ice cream on the drive home. It teaches him how to spot specific flowers with colors and petal details.

Scavenger hunts are also great opportunities to see things you don’t have time for during the school year. If you live near Lincoln Park in Chicago, you and your kids could try to spot frogs at the lily pond together. Scavenger hunts around Houston’s Discovery Green could include watching the Gateway Fountain bubble as your children run underneath the water. It all depends on where you live and what destinations could be educational trips near your home.

2. Celebrate National Holidays

Federal holidays aren’t the only occasions to celebrate. Lesser-known commemorations also offer inspiring ideas for single dads hoping to teach their kids something new this summer. Use a virtual calendar to discover daily holidays during any time of the year.

My son loves all things space, so that’s where I started my holiday ideas. National Moon Day is July 20, which will be an excellent opportunity to watch a video of the moon landing and maybe snack on some moon-themed treats. I’m going to talk about why gravity is different up there and challenge my son to do slow moonwalking with me around the yard. Have fun using the holidays as inspiration for educational activities you might not think of otherwise.

3. See Historic Exhibits

Since the time my son could watch “Dinotrux,” he’s been head over heels with all things cars. I want to take him to places where Hot Wheels come to life this summer, like the AACA Museum in Pennsylvania.

The museum is hosting a Model T Driving Experience event that will blow my son’s mind. He’s going to love seeing the vintage models up close, and I’ll appreciate that he’s learning more about the cars that dazzle him. He may even develop a love of historic exhibits in general because it’ll be such a fun way for us to make memories.

4. Stargaze

Some educational activities can happen right on your phone. There are free constellation apps that allow you to trace the constellations above you while moving your phone. It’s a much easier way to introduce kids to the stars. I also appreciated the visual guide since my own experience with comparing the stars to a book under my flashlight wasn’t as easy. If you’re up for taking the trip, the Albert Einstein Planetarium in Washington, D.C. is a fun and educational way to learn more about the solar system.

Tap on constellations or individual stars to learn more about them together. When I tried this with my son, we learned that the North Star has an 89-degree declination that remains constant throughout the year. After we went back inside, we read a bedtime story about becoming an astronaut so he dreams big when he starts his future career.

5. Volunteer on Vacation

You don’t have to worry about your educational summer activities interfering with your upcoming vacations. Find a way to volunteer while you’re away from home. If you’re heading to California, the state park service organizes beach cleanup dates where your child can learn about the pollution that ends up on coastal shores worldwide.

You could even volunteer at a local food bank or adoption event wherever you travel. I just look up the location’s town website for an events calendar to see what’s happening when we’ll be in the area.

6. Build a Birdhouse

If the idea of planning educational trips stresses you out, explore the world at home. Videos can teach you how to prepare the wooden materials you and your kids will need to put a birdhouse together. When it’s officially hanging in your yard, your kid can use a child-sized pair of binoculars to see who comes to visit.

There are tons of resources for children to learn about birds. See if you can find coloring books that teach kids fun facts about the birds on each page. I did the same thing as a child. Using each bird’s specific colors with my favorite crayons made it easier to remember each one and spot them in the wild years later.

7. Cook International Recipes Together

Learning about other cultures can be an engaging experience for kids. I can’t take my son on globetrotting adventures, but I can still introduce him to how other people live their lives through food.

Recipes like homemade dumplings challenge your fine motor skills. You and your child will have to wrap the dumpling ingredients in tiny pockets and pinch them before they cook. While waiting for them to boil or fry, talk about how people eat them while celebrating cultural events like the Chinese New Year.

No matter which recipe you make, you’ll teach your child the self-reliance they’ll need throughout their life. Complex recipes with numerous steps and new ingredients won’t ever phase them. It’s a delicious, budget-friendly way to prepare our kids for adulthood.

8. Catch Bugs Around Town

Don’t miss out on bug-catching opportunities. You and your kids can catch insects in nets or tiny containers and read manuals about them. This is also easy to do anywhere you go this summer. All you need is a net and an educational resource to learn about the natural world together.

You could even turn it into a long-term activity by taking snapshots of whatever you catch. Turn the printed photos into flashcards. You never know if bugs will be part of a lesson plan during the upcoming school year.

Plan Fun Educational Activities This Summer

Whether you spend the summer planning educational trips or creating learning-focused activities, you and your child will have a blast before school starts again. I can’t wait for all the memories my son and I will make over the coming weeks. It’s going to be our best summer yet.

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About Jack Shaw

Jack Shaw is the senior lifestyle writer at Modded with special interest in navigating the ins and outs of interpersonal relationships and emotional health. You'll likely find him playing with his dog or exploring nature with his family in his free time. Feel free to reach out to him via LinkedIn.

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