Summer vacation is a cherished time for kids and for good reason – it means no more homework, fun adventures, and hanging out with friends. But what happens to all of the academic progress children make during the school year? Research from the Brookings Institute indicates that students can lose 25 to 30 percent of their academic knowledge during the summer1 , creating a phenomenon known as the ‘summer slide.’
As the final school bell rings for the year, screen time worries along with cries of boredom and the dreaded “summer slide” challenge parents everywhere. Before you power up the Kahn Academy – consider some old school fun and new school learnings with clever new games and STEM toys. In fact, a friendly board game is one of the best and easiest ways to keep your children off their screens and stretch their minds without them ever catching onto your fiendish plan.
Whether you’re planning a family game night this summer or have a bit of downtime during a road trip, here are a bevy of games and activities that can spark curiosity and rouse critical thinking this summer, including:
|GraviTrax: This construction set puts a modern-day spin on the classic marble run and provides endless possibilities and challenges for any STEM enthusiast or budding engineer. Test your marble runs using different building elements and designs to keep the marble rolling for as long as possible. Experiment with gravity, magnetism, and kinetics to race your marbles to the finish line.
|Laser Chess: Who doesn’t love laser beams?! Laser Chess is the perfect way to combine the spatial thinking skills of chess with some high-tech fun. Players alternate turns moving their mirrored pieces around the board and at the end of each turn, fire a real laser beam, with the ultimate goal of illuminating their opponent’s King. This game is sure to be a hit whether your child has already taken an interest in chess or is just getting into it for the first time!
|Cat Crimes: Tangled yarn and a missing bird – which of the six furry felines were responsible for the Cat Crime? Designed as a single player game, it also doubles as a great cooperative game where players work together using paw prints, toy placement, spilled milk, and other clues to identify the felonious feline. It starts out easy, but will challenge the most ardent logic puzzler.
|Word A Round 2: Keep vocabulary and spelling skills sharp this summer with Word A Round 2. With 300 brand new words, the follow up to ThinkFun’s most popular card game can be played as a standalone game or combined with the original to create a mega-game of fast-paced fun! Just like the original, the challenge in Word A Round 2 is to quickly figure out where the word starts and to read it aloud before your opponents.
It’s estimated that elementary students’ performance can fall behind by up to a month during the summertime2, but smart games and toys like those from ThinkFun and Ravensburger promise your family some screen-free fun while also helping to stretch those synapses. Organize a game night for a long summer night, throw one in your beach bag, or use one to help pass the time at the airport – these brain teasers are sure to become new family favorites!
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