13 Unusual Educational Activities For Kids At Home This Summer
As the summer holidays approach, parents are often on the lookout for educational activities for kids to keep their children entertained and learning. Of course, there are the usual suspects like museum visits, nature walks, and reading clubs, but we believe it's time to break away from the monotony and explore something different.
We've focused on unusual educational activities for kids because they offer a fresh and exciting alternative to the traditional pastimes that children may have already experienced because the element of novelty can spark curiosity, enhance creativity, and help children develop new skills they might not have discovered through more conventional pursuits.
So, instead of opting for the same old activities like painting, puzzles, and baking, we've curated a list of 12 out-of-the-box, educational activities for kids that will pique your child's interest and broaden their horizons this summer. Each activity promises not only to entertain but also to provide valuable learning experiences that your children will cherish long after the holidays are over.
Jump to the following activities:
- 1. Geocaching: A real-world treasure
- 2. Solar Oven Cooking
- 3. Nature Photography Scavenger Hunt
- 4. Rubber Stamp Storytelling
- 5. DIY Rain Gauge
- 6. Homemade Sundial
- 7. Build a Mini Ecosystem
- 8. DIY Pinhole Camera
- 9. Edible Plant Identification
- 10. Backyard Archaeology
- 11. Compose a Family Song
- 12. Create a Family Tree
1. Geocaching: A real-world treasure
Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity that combines technology with a real-world treasure hunt. Participants, also known as geocachers, use GPS-enabled devices or smartphones to locate hidden containers called geocaches. These containers can be found in various locations around the world, often concealed in natural or urban environments.
The treasure hunt aspect comes into play as geocachers follow GPS coordinates to find the hidden geocaches. Once found, geocachers can sign a logbook inside the container, log their find online, and sometimes trade small trinkets or tokens left by other geocachers. The aim is to have fun while exploring new places and enjoying the thrill of discovery.
It enhances problem-solving, navigational skills and map-reading.
- Register on a geocaching website or app.
- Search for geocaches near your location.
- Choose a geocache and note down its GPS coordinates.
- Use a GPS device or smartphone app to navigate to the coordinates.
- Search for the hidden geocache container.
- Sign the logbook inside the geocache and exchange a small item if desired.
- Log your find on the website or app.
- GPS device or smartphone with GPS capabilities
- Pen or pencil
- Small trinkets for trading (optional).
2. Solar Oven Cooking
This is a sustainable cooking method using a homemade solar oven that harnesses the sun's energy to heat food. It teaches children about renewable energy and basic engineering concepts.
- Gather a cardboard box, aluminium foil, black construction paper, clear plastic wrap, and tape.
- Cut a flap in the box's lid, leaving a border around the edges.
- Cover the inner side of the flap and box interior with aluminium foil, shiny side out.
- Place black construction paper on the bottom of the box.
- Stretch plastic wrap over the box opening and tape it in place.
- Position the solar oven in direct sunlight, angling the foil-covered flap to reflect sunlight into the box.
- Place food on a plate or tray inside the solar oven and close the lid.
- Monitor cooking progress and adjust the oven's angle as needed.
- Cardboard box
- Aluminium foil
- Black construction paper
- Clear plastic wrap
- Plate or tray
- Food for cooking.
3. Nature Photography Scavenger Hunt
Children search for and capture images of specific items found in nature to encourage observation skills, creativity, and an appreciation for the environment.
- Create a list of natural items to photograph, such as different types of leaves, flowers, or insects.
- Equip each child with a camera or smartphone.
- Set a time limit for the scavenger hunt.
- Encourage children to explore the outdoors and photograph each item on the list.
- Once the time is up, gather the children and review their photos.
- Discuss their observations, favourite photos, and what they learned about the natural world.
- List of natural items
- Camera or smartphone
- Outdoor location.
4. Rubber Stamp Storytelling
This is fun educational activity for kids combines customised rubber stamps with creative storytelling, promoting both literacy and artistic expression.
Children can design and create their own rubber stamps, which they then use to build a narrative by stamping their unique designs onto paper, card, or other materials. They can create characters, objects, or abstract shapes that represent elements of their story. The final product may resemble a comic strip, a series of illustrations, or even a unique form of visual poetry.
- Gather a variety of customisable rubber stamps, ink pads, and plain paper.
- Allow the children to explore the rubber stamps and choose their favourites. Alternatively, they can create their own stamps with simple designs related to a theme or story.
- Encourage the children to develop a story idea that incorporates the characters or objects represented by their chosen stamps.
- Have the children create a storyboard by stamping their chosen designs onto paper in a sequence that represents the events of their story.
- Instruct the children to add details, backgrounds, and dialogue to their stamped images using coloured pencils, markers, or pens.
- Once the storyboard is complete, ask the children to write a narrative based on their stamped images, describing the events and characters in detail.
- Invite the children to share their stories with the group, using their stamped storyboards as visual aids during their presentations.
- Customisable rubber stamps
- Ink pads
- Plain paper
- Coloured pencils
- Marker pens.
Design your own rubber stamps
Designing your own rubber stamps is fun and easy - and they can be used in lots of different ways. Whether you want them big or small, specific objects or abstract designs, you can have anything you want.
5. DIY Rain Gauge
This is a homemade instrument for measuring rainfall, which teaches children about meteorology, data collection and weather patterns.
- Gather a clear plastic bottle, ruler, permanent marker, and scissors.
- Cut the top off the plastic bottle, creating a wide opening.
- Invert the cut-off top and place it inside the bottle, creating a funnel.
- Secure the funnel in place with tape.
- Use the ruler and permanent marker to create a measuring scale on the side of the bottle.
- Place the rain gauge outside in an open area, away from buildings or trees.
- Check the rain gauge regularly and record the amount of rainfall.
- A clear plastic bottle (preferably a 2-litre bottle or similar size)
- Scissors or a craft knife
- A ruler or measuring tape
- Permanent marker
- Optional: pebbles, stones, or marbles for added weight and stability
- Optional: a funnel for easy collection of rainwater
- Optional: a small notebook or sheet of paper to record the rainfall measurements
6. Bottle Rocket Launch
Build and launch a simple bottle rocket to teach children about physics, aerodynamics and basic engineering.
- Gather a plastic bottle, cork, bicycle pump with a needle attachment, tape, cardboard, and scissors.
- Cut three triangular fins from the cardboard and attach them to the bottle using tape.
- Pierce a hole through the cork, large enough for the bicycle pump needle to fit snugly.
- Fill the bottle one-third full with water.
- Insert the cork tightly into the bottle's opening.
- Attach the bicycle pump needle to the cork and pump.
- When enough pressure has built up, the bottle rocket will launch into the air.
- Observe the rocket's trajectory and discuss the principles of force and motion.
- Plastic bottle,
- Bicycle pump with needle attachment
7. Homemade Sundial
Make a simple time-telling device that uses shadows to indicate the approximate time, teaching children about the Earth's rotation and the passage of time.
- Gather a flat, circular object (such as a plate), a straight stick, a compass, and a marker.
- Place the circular object on a level surface outdoors, where it will receive sunlight throughout the day.
- Use the compass to determine true north and align the circular object accordingly.
- Insert the stick into the centre of the circular object, ensuring it stands vertically.
- Every hour, observe the stick's shadow and mark its position on the circular object, noting the time.
- Over time, the marked shadow positions will allow children to estimate the time based on the shadow's current position.
- Flat, circular object
- Straight stick
- Marker pen.
8. Build a Mini Ecosystem
An activity that involves creating a small, self-sustaining ecosystem in a jar, helping children learn about the interdependence of living organisms and their environments.
- Gather a large, clear jar with a lid, soil, small plants, rocks, and a variety of small organisms (e.g., insects, worms).
- Fill the jar with a layer of rocks, followed by a layer of soil.
- Plant the small plants in the soil, leaving space for the organisms.
- Carefully introduce the organisms into the jar.
- Seal the jar with the lid, creating a closed ecosystem.
- Place the jar in a well-lit area but out of direct sunlight.
- Observe the interactions between the organisms and their environment over time, noting any changes.
- Large, clear jar with lid
- Small plants
- Small organisms.
In a mini ecosystem, you can include various small organisms that can coexist and maintain a balanced environment.
Always ensure that the organisms you choose are compatible and appropriate for the size of your mini ecosystem. Additionally, make sure to provide proper care and maintain suitable living conditions for all the organisms involved.
9. DIY Pinhole Camera
Make a simple, homemade camera that captures images without a lens to teach children about the basic principles of photography, light and optics.
- Gather a small, light-tight container, aluminium foil, a pin, black tape, and photosensitive paper or film.
- Cut a small hole in one side of the container.
- Cover the hole with a small piece of aluminium foil, securing it with tape.
- Use the pin to make a tiny hole in the foil.
- Place photosensitive paper or film on the inside of the container, opposite the pinhole.
- Seal the container tightly with black tape to ensure no light can enter.
- In a dimly lit area, open the container and insert the photosensitive paper or film.
- Close and seal the container again.
- Place the pinhole camera in a stable position, pointing it towards the desired scene.
- Remove the tape covering the pinhole for a predetermined exposure time, allowing light to enter and create an image on the photosensitive paper or film.
- Replace the tape to cover the pinhole, and then develop the photosensitive paper or film according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Small, light-tight container
- Aluminium foil
- Black tape
- Photosensitive paper or film.
10. Edible Plant Identification
This is a nature-based activity that teaches children to identify and safely consume edible plants found in the wild, encouraging exploration, observation, and appreciation for the natural world.
- Research local edible plants and their distinguishing features, using field guides or online resources.
- Equip each child with a notepad, pen, and a container for collecting plants.
- Explore outdoor areas where edible plants are likely to grow, such as parks, woodlands, or meadows.
- Encourage children to search for and identify the edible plants using their notepads and the information provided.
- Collect samples of the identified edible plants in the containers.
- At home, wash and prepare the plants for consumption, and discuss their nutritional benefits.
- Field guide or online resources.
11. Backyard Archaeology
This is a hands-on activity where children search for buried ‘artefacts’ in their garden or a designated area, teaching them about archaeology, history, and observation skills.
- Gather small objects that can serve as ‘artefacts’, such as coins, old toys, or pottery shards.
- Bury the artefacts in a garden or designated area, noting their locations.
- Equip each child with a small trowel, brush, and container for collecting finds.
- Explain the basics of archaeology and the importance of careful excavation.
- Instruct the children to carefully search for and excavate the buried artefacts.
- Once all artefacts have been discovered, discuss their historical significance and the excavation process.
- Small objects
12. Compose a Family Song
Write and perform an original song about their family, teaching them about music composition, teamwork, and self-expression.
- Gather paper, pens, and musical instruments if available.
- Encourage the children to brainstorm ideas for the song's theme and lyrics, drawing inspiration from family experiences or inside jokes.
- Write the song's lyrics and compose a simple melody to accompany them. They might look for ‘instrumental songs’ or ‘backing track’ on Youtube to find a backing track to sing along to.
- Practice performing the song together, using musical instruments or body percussion if desired.
- Record the performance or share it with family members.
- Musical instruments (optional).
13. Create a Family Tree
This fun activity helps children learn about their family history and ancestry while also fostering a sense of belonging and strengthening family bonds.
- Discuss with your child the importance of family and the concept of a family tree.
- Gather information about family members, such as names, birthdates, and places of origin, by talking to relatives or examining family records.
- Choose a format for the family tree, either digital or on paper. You can use a pre-made template or create your own design.
- Help your child fill in the family tree with the collected information, starting with themselves and working back through the generations.
- Encourage your child to add personal touches to the family tree, such as photographs, drawings, or small anecdotes about family members.
- Display the completed family tree in a prominent place, and discuss its significance with your child and other family members.
- Family information
- A family tree template or materials for creating your own (paper, pen, scissors, glue, etc.), photographs. Or you can use an online app.
- Drawing supplies.
These twelve educational activities for kids offer a diverse range of educational experiences for children to enjoy during their summer holidays. They provide opportunities for exploration, creativity, and learning in various subject areas, while also promoting a sense of wonder and appreciation for the world around them.