BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK
When school is out, parents worry about balancing their children’s fun time with educational time. Striving to help their children retain the knowledge they learned in the previous months, parents sometimes sandwich fun summer activities between math and reading worksheets. However, fun and education don’t have to be divided. This summer, make your children’s learning experiences both educational and enjoyable.

Create a recipe book

Before starting this project, have your child browse through several recipe books to determine how to set up their own recipe book. Have your child brainstorm possible recipes he or she would like in the book. Next, pick one day a week to prepare a dish from the list as your child observes you cooking, noting the types and amounts of ingredients needed and the way the dish is prepared. Have your child take a picture of the dish after it is prepared to insert into the recipe book. Afterwards, he or she can include the recipe in a word document and insert the pictures accordingly.

Read through the complete recipe book and discuss the revisions needed to make the book more understandable to others. (Discuss grammar choices and/or page layout.) Then have your child revise the book. Finally, print and present your recipe book to the rest of your family before or after a special dinner thrown in your child’s honor. This project will not only enhance reading and writing skills, it will also allow you and your child to spend some quality time in the kitchen and take a break from the unhealthy meals at fast food restaurants.

Sell a talent

Lemonade is not the only thing that your child can sell this summer. Expand their concept of making money by having them sell things they enjoy. If your children love pets, have them offer to clean the neighbors’ dogs. If your children like household chores, they can iron clothes or wash windows of trustworthy adults for a small fee.

To make this an effective learning experience, have your child learn more about their skill. For example, have them read books about different types of dogs and their grooming requirements. Next, help them establish prices for their services. Consult Cost Helper.com at http://www.costhelper.com for fee suggestions, and charge a discounted price based on the experience of your child. Buy your child a planner to help organize his or her daily work schedule and keep a list of clients. They can also create flyers, advertising services to your family, neighbors, co-workers and friends. This project will make your children more business-savvy and better planners, organizers, and time managers for the upcoming school year.

Compose a PSA

Advance technology skills and fight against problems in our society by helping them create a public service announcement. PSAs are short videos that either inform or persuade others to take a stand on an issue. To start, you’ll need a video recorder and filmmaking software, such as Microsoft Movie Maker. (Most software comes with easy-to-read directions.)

Have your child identify a problem in your community, such as violence or illiteracy. They can research the topic via the Internet, newspaper, or your local library. Internet resources, such as http://www.wiredsafety.org/wiredlearning/psa/ can teach how to create an effective PSA. Your child should come up with a script before shooting the PSA. Point out that it’s easier to shoot a PSA at home or on your front porch than in several different locations. Once filmed, have your child use the filmmaking program to edit it. Then air it at the next block club party. This project will enhance skills in technology, writing and the creative arts.

China Hill is a teacher at KIPP Ascend Charter School on the West Side