Friday, May 25, 2012

Ideas for Summertime Activities

One of the most frustrating (and yes, annoying) phrases a parent can hear over the summer from their child(ren) is “I’m bored!” Some of you may have already decided to join the Discovery Zone Summer Camp that will  take polace in school from June 11 to June 29. The camp provides a safe and fun enviroment for children from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.

Inevitavably, your there will be days that your child will have nothing to do. Want some activities for your kids to do at home? Here are 200+ activities that your child can choose from. Why not print the list out, post it in his/her bedroom, and have them go to it before they come to you? I bet it will save you (and them) a little unnecessary grief!

In no particular order, here's our current (but continually growing!) list of activities

  1. ride bikes
  2. roller blade
  3. basketball
  4. play board games
  5. make a tent out of blankets
  6. squirt with hoses
  7. run through the sprinkler
  8. jump rope
  9. read books
  10. blow bubbles
  11. make homemade play dough
  12. play with play dough
  13. press flowers
  14. do crafts with pressed flowers
  15. write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
  16. clean bedroom
  17. vacuum living room
  18. clean bathroom
  19. make a craft
  20. draw
  21. color
  22. paint
  23. pull weeds
  24. watch a movie
  25. write stories
  26. use binoculars
  27. use magnifying glass
  28. use microscope
  29. bird watching
  30. write a play
  31. act out a play
  32. invent circus acts
  33. perform a circus
  34. play card games
  35. make art on the front walkway with sidewalk chalk
  36. play catch
  37. play baseball
  38. collect rocks
  39. collect leaves
  40. collect feathers
  41. play Frisbee
  42. make Frisbee's out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
  43. dust the house
  44. brush the pet
  45. write letters
  46. read a magazine
  47. play dress-up
  48. play Cowboys
  49. pick vegetables
  50. play outside with the pet
  51. build a fort in your rooms
  52. build a fort in the backyard
  53. do a jigsaw puzzle
  54. play on the Geosafari
  55. play on the computer
  56. listen to a story or book on tape
  57. do extra schoolwork to get ahead
  58. do brain teasers (crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
  59. cook
  60. prepare lunch
  61. surprise a neighbor with a good deed
  62. play store
  63. prepare a "restaurant" lunch with menus
  64. hold a tea party
  65. have a Teddy bear picnic
  66. play with toy cars
  67. play dolls
  68. play house
  69. chase butterflies
  70. collect caterpillars and bugs
  71. plant a garden or a pot
  72. collect seeds
  73. hunt for four-leaf clovers
  74. learn magic tricks
  75. put on a magic show
  76. plant a container garden
  77. sprout seeds or beans
  78. make sock puppets
  79. put on a puppet show
  80. make Christmas presents
  81. make homemade wrapping paper
  82. make homemade gift cards
  83. make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
  84. crochet or knit
  85. make doll clothes
  86. sew buttons in designs on old shirts
  87. run relay races
  88. make bookmarks
  89. take a quiet rest time
  90. take a shower or bath
  91. bathe a pet
  92. feed the birds or squirrels
  93. watch the clouds
  94. organize a dresser drawer
  95. clean under the bed
  96. empty dishwasher
  97. vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found
  98. write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
  99. whittle
  100. whittle bars of soap
  101. practice musical instruments
  102. perform a family concert
  103. teach yourself to play musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
  104. fold laundry
  105. sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
  106. sweep front walkway
  107. sweep or spray back patio
  108. sweep or spray driveway
  109. wash car
  110. vacuum car
  111. vacuum or dust window blinds
  112. clean bathroom mirrors
  113. clean sliding glass doors
  114. clean inside of car windows
  115. wash bicycles
  116. clean garage
  117. play in the sandbox
  118. build a sandcastle
  119. work with clay
  120. copy your favorite book illustration
  121. design your own game
  122. build with blocks or Legos
  123. create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
  124. plan a neighborhood or family Olympics
  125. have a marble tournament
  126. paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
  127. finger paint with pudding
  128. make dessert
  129. make dinner
  130. give your pet a party
  131. paint the sidewalk with water
  132. start a journal of summer fun
  133. start a nature diary
  134. have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
  135. have a neighborhood bike wash
  136. play flashlight tag
  137. play Kick the Can
  138. check out a science book and try some experiments
  139. make up a story
  140. arrange photo albums
  141. find bugs and start a collection
  142. do some stargazing
  143. decorate bikes or wagons and have a neighborhood parade
  144. catch butterflies and then let them go
  145. play hide-and-seek
  146. create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
  147. listen to the birds sing
  148. try to imitate birdcalls
  149. read a story to a younger child
  150. find shapes in the clouds
  151. string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
  152. glue noodles into a design on paper
  153. play hopscotch
  154. play jacks
  155. make up a song
  156. make a teepee out of blankets
  157. write in your journal
  158. find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
  159. play charades
  160. make up a story by drawing pictures
  161. draw a cartoon strip
  162. make a map of your bedroom, house or neighborhood
  163. call a friend
  164. cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
  165. make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
  166. do a secret service for a neighbor
  167. plan a treasure hunt
  168. make a treasure map
  169. make up a "Bored List" of things to do
  170. plan a special activity for your family
  171. search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopedia or online
  172. plan an imaginary trip to the moon
  173. plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
  174. write a science-fiction story
  175. find a new pen pal
  176. make up a play using old clothes as costumes
  177. make up a game for practicing math facts
  178. have a Spelling Bee
  179. make up a game for practicing spelling
  180. surprise an elderly neighbor or relative by weeding his/her garden
  181. finger paint with shaving cream
  182. collect sticks and mud and build a bird's nest
  183. write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
  184. put together a family newsletter
  185. write reviews of movies or plays or TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
  186. bake a cake
  187. bake a batch of cookies
  188. decorate a shoe box to hold your summer treasures
  189. make a hideout or clubhouse
  190. make paper airplanes
  191. have paper airplane races
  192. learn origami
  193. make an obstacle course in your backyard
  194. make friendship bracelets for your friends
  195. make a wind chime out of things headed for the garbage
  196. paint your face
  197. braid hair
  198. play tag
  199. make a sundial
  200. make food sculptures (from pretzels, gumdrops, string licorice, raisins, cream cheese, peanuts, peanut butter, etc.) and then eat it
  201. make a terrarium
  202. start a club
  203. take a nap outside on your lawn
  204. produce a talent show
  205. memorize a poem
  206. recite a memorized poem for your family

Saturday, May 19, 2012


As the end of the school year approaches, children and teachers are “on the countdown" to the last day of school. By June, many students are looking forward to summer and two months free of lessons and tests. And yet this may be a bittersweet time for children who will miss teachers and friends. For most kids, the end of the school year means saying lots of good-byes. Some of these are temporary, some more long-lasting. Endings are harder for some children than others.

While children may happily anticipate the summer--and feel relief knowing that the things they didn't like about the year are over--there's still an underlying awareness that life will never be quite the same again. For children who are changing schools, or saying good-bye to friends who are moving, the good-byes may be particularly meaningful.
The many celebrations that mark the end of the school year keep everyone busy with plays, graduations, and stepping-up ceremonies. Families are often preoccupied with end-of-year projects and plans for the summer. The hubbub surrounding the end of a school year can sometimes ease the transition but may also distract kids from how it feels to say good-bye. It's important for parents to find ways to acknowledge, and even honor, the year-long bonds that their children formed during the many months of school.
A parent can help with end-of-year good-byes by encouraging kids to talk about their feelings--about what they'll remember and miss. Help your child write down some of the events that marked the year. What your child remembers most vividly may not be the big play or a major field trip, but a funny comment made by a classmate or the time the hamster escaped from his cage. Encourage your child to get addresses of classmates to be able to stay in touch. If possible, take some photos of classmates and teachers--and of the classroom--before displays are dismantled.
Not all kids experience the end of the school year in the same way. Some are totally focused on what's next; they're glad to move on. However, most children need some understanding that in moving on there may be a sense of loss for what was ... and that's okay. Communicate with your child! Acknowledge his or her feelings. Saying good bye is a hard lesson to learn, but you may be there to help your child learn it effectively.

Friday, May 11, 2012


It is, unfortunately, that time of the year! The end of the school year can bring big changes for children and families, and some of those changes involve loss. Friends might be moving away or changing schools. For some children, having a close school buddy assigned to a different classroom can be upsetting.
All of us will lose people we love at some point in our lives, through death or other less dramatic separations. Helping children successfully manage the separations that inevitably occur at the end of a school year is a good way to help them develop lifelong strategies for coping with loss.
The Words You'll Need: You're really going to miss “Alison”, aren't you?
The Reason: Let your child know that you hear what he/she is saying. Feeling unheard compounds a child's sense of isolation.
The Words: It's really sad that she's leaving.
The Reason: Help children learn the words to identify what they are feeling so that they can develop a vocabulary to talk about their emotions.
The Words: I remember when my friend moved away, I felt mad and sad. Even though it wasn't her fault, and she couldn't help it, I still felt angry.
The Reason: Sometimes it's helpful to share your own experiences coping with a particular problem. Acknowledging your own feelings of anger about a loss is a good way of letting children know that it's okay and even normal for them to have angry feelings about someone moving away.
The Words: You've had a lot of fun with Alison, haven't you? You've known each other since you were babies. No wonder you're upset.
The Reason: It's important to validate how important his/her departing friend is to your child, as well as his/her feelings about the separation.
The Words: Would you like to do something special with Alison before she goes?
The Reason: Planning a good-bye party or event is a good way to help children take active control over some aspect of their impending separation. Your son/daughter can't stop her friend from leaving, but he/she can choose how to spend time with them before she goes.
Find out how she would like to mark her friend's departure. Perhaps she would like to spend a day with just the two of them, or give a party for her.
The Words: I like to email my friends who live far away. We also write real letters and talk on the telephone sometimes. It's not the same as being face to face, but it's a way to stay in touch.
The Reason: Help your son/daughter think of ways that she can stay in touch with her friend even when she's far away. If it's possible to arrange a visit, you can plan that with her, too. Testing skype /face time calls and emails can be a great way to sooth worries about distances.
The Words: No one will ever exactly take Alison's place, but you'll keep on making good friends as you grow up-in fact, it's hard to believe now, but it's likely that you will have other best friends as well.
The Reason: Even as you acknowledge the unique place his/her departing friend holds in your daughter's life, let him/her know that you have faith in her ability to continue to make good friends.
The Words: Any time you want to talk about this, let me know. Talking about it won't keep Alison from leaving, but it might help you feel less lonely.
The Reason: Saying good-bye is a process - your son/daughter might need several conversations over the course of her friend's departure, and after he/she leaves as well. Make sure your child knows that you're available.

Beyond the Rap
·  Encourage your child to make something for her departing friend -- working on a photo album, or a collection of written memories, will help him/her process the loss and is a wonderful good-bye gift.
·  Allow time and space for grieving. It's hard to watch our children be sad. On the other hand, allowing ourselves to feel painful feelings is essential to healing. Remember that healing takes time.
·  When faced with your own losses, remember that you are a model for your children. How you cope with loss will influence how they cope with it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

How to Make a Better Grade on the MAP Test

Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) tests are used to determine if a student is progressing academically. Subjects tested include mathematics, reading and  language usage. Making a better grade on the test can be accomplished if you prepare throughout the school year, studying a little as students go to ensure they are ready when MAP test time comes around.

As we get ready to begin the third MAP testing session at Discovery School, please take the time to read how you can help your child obtain better scores in these assessments.

Improve study habits. The MAP test helps teachers know if students comprehend the material taught throughout the year. To help improve MAP grade, increase the study time year round. Spend extra time on difficult subjects until they feel comfortable with the information.

Work on writing skills. In addition to normal writing assignments at school, it is agood idea for students to take time to write daily in a journal or work on creative writing projects. Expand their vocabulary by learning new words and helping them incorporate these into the writing. Ask your teacher to help you and critique the work.

Take practice tests. Check with your child’s teacher and for study materials and sample tests available on line. Ask for additional help from your child’s teacher if a student did not score well on your practice tests and continue studying until the grade improves.

Be rested and prepared. It is important for students to go to bed early the night before the MAP tests. Have them eat a healthy breakfast and dress in comfortable clothing. Help them arrive at school in plenty of time before testing begins so they will be relaxed.

Answer all questions. When taking your MAP test, it is important that students understand that hey should NOT leave any spaces blank, even if it means they have to guess the answer. On bubbles, they need to be sure to completely darken the chosen circle. Practice having them read the entire question and all possible answers before making a choice.

Select a link below (math or reading practice) and click on the score ranges your child received on the last MAP assessment.  (Please contact your child’s teacher if you do not know your child's last MAP scores.) This will direct you to leveled activities that are appropriate practice for upcoming MAP assessments.

Math practice leveled by MAP scores

Reading practice leveled by MAP scores

For frequently asked questions about the MAP testing, please click on the following link: