The summer holidays are swiftly approaching, which means it’s time to start coming up with things to do for your youngsters. While reliable activities such as summer camp, day camp or just plain loafin’ are always there, other possibilities beckon — possibilities that, while being fun, can also be educational.
1. Model Rocketry
This hobby has been around awhile, but it’s tons of fun. The way it works is simple: you assemble a rocket (mostly using glue and stickers), insert a standard-sized rocket engine, then insert an igniter into the engine, and then launch it from a simple launch pad using an electric trigger-switch. The rockets and engines vary in size and capability; they can be small and simple or huge and high-flying. Make sure you have access to a very large open field, as the wind can really catch these (especially during the parachute phase). If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can attach experiments, sensors or video cameras to your rocket. Watching them soar into the sky at top speed will thrill your kid every time!
One of the best uses possible for your kid’s smartphone, geocaching combines socializing, competition, the thrill of the hunt and, of course, high technology. Geocachers leave small items for others to find out in the world. Using coordinates and GPS technology, the goal is to find those items (which only have a token value if any at all). It’s also standard to include a logbook so people can add their name to the list of those who have found it. Now it may sound geeky, but it’s tons of fun and there’s a massive online community of geocachers — chances are there are targets to find near you.
Planting and nurturing flowers and vegetables is both dead simple and incredibly complicated. Plant, water, prune, weed. Pretty straightforward. Except that some plants require more sun exposure than others. Different flowers bloom at different times in the growing season, some plants can only grow in specific climate zones, water demands can vary … things get more complicated the more you do it. But really diving in, starting with plans, keeping a garden journal, and best of all watching life spring from the soil, can be tons of fun. You don’t even need land, a few pots will do.
It’s not crazy to think that looking at the stars “properly” requires a hugely expensive telescope equipped with a high-tech motorized mount and an aperture wide enough to drive a school bus through. The truth is, however, such costly tools, while desirable, are not at all necessary. Cheap refractor telescopes, your grandfather’s old binoculars and even a set of opera glasses can reveal amazing sights in the night sky. Even in cities where light pollution renders much of the heavens invisible, it’s still possible to observe the moon, our solar system and even orbiting objects like the International Space Station. There’s tons to see right above your head — just remember to be careful when you’re out at night, and never to look at the sun!