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“The more that you read, the more things you will know.The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr. Seuss

Yep, it’s summer. The backpacks are put away, the erasers clapped and the daily pace relaxed. So who wants to talk about school, right? We totally agree, but … what if we told you it could actually be fun? When it’s done right, your kids won’t even realize that they’re being schooled in, well, school. Here are some activities for kids that keep your kids just as engaged as would any summer program.

1. Make a journal. Decorate a notebook and keep a log of the adventures you take on this summer. It’s a great way your kids can practice their writing skills. And because that journal is likely to do a little traveling of its own, be sure to wrap the cover with contact paper for extra durability.

[More from Mel & Michele: Traveling with Kids & Curing the Are-We-There-Yets]

2. Create a weather chart. Nurture your little meteorologist by creating a simple chart with columns labeled “sunny,” “cloudy,” “rainy,” etc. Each day, have your child place a tally mark under the climate he/she observes. Older children can research weather instruments and even make one of their own. Example: http://www.kinderart.com/folkart/weathervane.shtml

3. Get messy. Break out the watercolors, shaving cream, modeling clay and whatever other “messy” supplies you have around the house. Then, encourage your little people to create a masterpiece, while also practicing their letters and numbers or crafting shapes and more complicated sculptures of animals, flowers, etc.

[More from Mel & Michele: Fun Activities to Make the Rain, Rain Go Away]

4. Be dramatic. Write a play together. Design costumes from your closets and dress-up trunks and scenery with the arts and crafts left over from the school year.  Practice reading and acting out parts. Then, perform it … for family members, neighbors, the dog or even a gaggle of teddy bears. They all make great audiences.

5. Take a closer look. Make a list of things you find in nature to create a scavenger hunt. Then, take a walk around your yard and the nearby area. Using the list, see what you can find. Your children will delight in spotting bird’s nests, colorful flowers, different insects, etc. With older children, give each person a copy of the list and have a race to see who can finish first.

6. Drop by the local library. Keep a list of things each of you wants to learn more about on the refrigerator. (Example: “Lizards”) Then, every week or whatever your schedule dictates, visit your library and check out a book on each subject. While you’re there, be sure to find out if your branch hosts any summer reading challenges. Sometimes they even offer prizes as incentives.

[More from Mel & Michele: Strategies to Stop Your Kids from Lying: Let the Truth Be Told]

7. Read a little every day. Keep it flexible. It can be any book for any duration. The important thing is actually doing it. Even if you’re all just reading different books quietly in the same room.

8. Cook together. Get the kids involved in planning meals during the week. Try new recipes, go grocery shopping, let the kids handle the ingredients, mix, stir, and knead. They’re much more likely to eat food that they’ve had a hand in making with Mom, Dad, Grandma and whomever else. Except the dog. He really doesn’t belong in the kitchen.

Remember, teachers come in all shapes and sizes and kids don’t have to be at desks to learn. There are dozens of opportunities to stay sharp and have fun with your kids every one of the lazy days of summer. Just be sure you don’t miss out on the opportunities to lounge and kick back with them, too!

About Melissa

Melissa is the founder and editor of According to Mags, a blog about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. She also co-produces with her husband a children’s story podcast called Night Light Stories. Melissa is the proud mom of a seven-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She holds a Masters degree in Special Education and is in her thirteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. Currently, she is a supervisor for student teachers at Walden University as well as a Homebound Teacher in the evenings.

About Michele

Michele is the founder and editor of Old Dog New Tits, an award-winning blog about whatever craziness crosses her family’s path. She is a freelance writer for various websites, magazines and newspapers and is always looking for new projects. She hopes to publish some of her independent work in the near future. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Arts Administration. As a married mother of two from New Orleans, she is actively involved in her children’s lives and has served as everything from Room Mom to Brownie Leader to even PTA President. She loves cheese almost as much as her children and thought it imperative that she include that fact in her biography.