7 Summertime Adventures and Activities for Kids and Families to Enjoy:

From National Parks to Inclusive Dance Parties to Bubble Art

Storypod Brings Your Family Smart and Budget-Friendly Summertime Options That Keep Your Child’s Brain Engaged, Learning, and Having Fun

          It’s summertime! With your little ones out of school for the season, keeping them entertained and learning for months on end may seem like a daunting task. Here at Storypod, we understand. As financial stressors continue to be felt by families across the globe and many exhausted parents are struggling to navigate year 3 of the pandemic, we’re here to shine the light on some clever, budget-friendly, and easy adventures and activities! When children’s summertime activities keep their developing brains engaged, learning, and having fun, they are better prepared for when school starts back up in the fall. Without further ado, let’s take a look at 7 great life-hacks for families this summer:

1. The hero you didn’t know you needed: Head on over to your local public library

          From full monthly programming schedule​s for kids, teens, and adults to weekly storytimes: Libraries offer expert-level programs, events, and opportunities to have fun. From StoryWalk programs that work hard to incorporate the benefits of nature into children’s lives to Therapy-Dog Storytimes, STEM and Makerspace events, movie nights, and Summer Reading Programs: Libraries have it all. And all of it is free.

          A hidden gem that many public libraries offer is activity kits. ​Activity kits can be checked out from libraries and brought home, used, and returned, where they will be replenished and made ready for the next patron to check out. Activity kits are very individualized, so age appropriateness and safety ratings should be checked for each kit before use. Kits can include books, coloring pages, crayons, toys, entrance passes, worksheets, tools, and many other components. Activity kits are incredibly versatile and beneficial. Library activity kits can be: ​

  • Focused on supplementing academic learning (like math skills)
  • Designed to be a resources for homeschoolers
  • Purely recreational, like superhero themed kits
  • Promoting a love of the outdoors and exploration, like "experience pass" kits
  • Geared towards emotional development and support, such as "meditation kits"
  • Brought to entertain and educate children if they are going on a family road trip with long periods of time in the car.

How Storypod can help:

          Much like libraries, Storypod wants your child to develop strong literacy skills, to be happy, and to succeed. Here is how our Audio Experiences and content work to strengthen the same five elements of early childhood literacy that library programming works to support:

  • Phonological Awareness: Our Audio Experiences help to promote phonological awareness in children from birth onward. Our Crafties, audiobooks, and trivia cards increase the focus on this important skill as your child grows.
  • Vocabulary: Our Craftie stories, audiobooks, and trivia cards gradually increase new vocabulary words and skills across the stages in our Pathway to Learning.
  • Print Awareness/Conventions: From reading along with your children to our audiobooks to turning the pages and flipping through trivia cards on their own: We support children’s developing awareness of print conventions.
  • Letter Knowledge: From interactive trivia cards that teach capital vs. lowercase letters, synonyms, and syllables to Crafties that ask children to sing along to audiobooks that include extra trivia: We teach children about letter knowledge and to apply it in real-world settings.
  • Background Knowledge: As your children progress on our Pathway to Learning, we build on the background knowledge that we teach, reinforce, and present across each stage, helping to provide your children with a strong foundation in literacy.

 

2. Throw a spontaneous family dance party!

         When you reach for your music app and start playing your groovy tunes like, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, “Dancing in the Moonlight”, or the soundtrack to Encanto on a Saturday afternoon, twisting and twirling around the living room and inviting the kiddos to join, you’re modeling to children that spontaneity, joy, and laughter are important. You’re providing them with a concrete example of how to appreciate silliness, laughter, and family time. This also helps provide children with the developmental benefits of music, healthy exercise, opportunities for family bonding, and creating safe spaces.

          Participating in spontaneous family dance parties is a fun and joyous experience for ALL members of the family. As with any practice, be sure to include those who may have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. Folx who are wheelchair bound, movement restricted, or who may experience severe anxiety can easily be included in a family dance party. Remember to always keep in mind the individual needs of each person and to act accordingly.

Check our article, The Benefits of Spontaneous Family Dance Parties!, for more ideas on how to include those who are differently- abled in your dance parties (discussed in item #6 in that article). 

How Storypod can help:

          Here at Storypod, we are here for your spontaneous family dance parties! Play some groovy jams that they already love to wiggle around to in their dancing shoes. Kids will love it when you join in the dancing festivities with them. You can use your Storypod speaker to play tracks your kiddos know and adore, like on our Tali Tucan Craftie, Uma Unicorn Craftie, or even the iCraftie. Our Ultimate Music Bundle provides dozens of songs your kids know and are familiar with and our Dance Bundle was made for dancing.

3. Listen to music together

          Whether it's making time to introduce your kids to your favorite tunes or playing their favorite songs as they go about their chores, listening to music together is a wonderful opportunity to nurture the many benefits music can provide to your child.

          Researchers have found that music can accelerate a child’s brain development, especially in the regions responsible for their language comprehension and reading skills. Research has also shown that children who participate in interactive auditory learning (such as musical instrument training) have stronger speech processing centers in their brains. Music, songs, and dancing are a joyful way to support children.

Check our article, How Music Benefits Your Child’s Early Development, to learn more about this.

How Storypod can help:

          We at Storypod work hard to keep that joyful and music-infused approach to learning present throughout our Audio Experiences. Our interactive Audio Experiences are designed to support the crucial years of children’s brain development - especially their early childhood literacy skills. Our Crafties play music, sing songs and even lullabies! Your Storypod speaker (and even the iCraftie) is a great way to share the joy of music together.

4. Fun and interesting podcast finds: A great way to support brain development in the summer

          When a child listens to an audiobook or podcast, it requires more brain energy than watching television. This is because they are being allowed to construct worlds of their own: strengthening their cognitive abilities and foundational Social-Emotional Learning skills.

          Audiobooks and podcasts are excellent tools to bolster a child’s brain development. With the potential to improve reading skills, heighten vocabulary, and boost comprehension, they offer a fun way for children’s brains to stay engaged and learning over summer vacation. Following along with a physical book while listening to an audiobook is also helpful in strengthening a child’s ability to put words with sounds. By introducing your child to the wonder of sound-only entertainment, you will help them to develop better comprehension and vocabulary skills.

How Storypod can help:

          Storypod provides edu-tainment Audio Experiences for kids. Much like audiobooks and podcasts, Storypod offers stories, music, songs, activities, read-along audiobooks, and educational content in a screenless, audio-based, format.

There is an innovative array of children’s audio content available. Check our article, The Top 10 Children’s Audiobooks and Podcasts Your Kids Will Love, for some fun suggestions.

5. THE OUTSIDE: A literal world of opportunities for fun, games, and learning

          Whether it's going for a walk around the neighborhood, playing in the backyard, visiting a nearby park, going hiking on trails, or going on a full fledged camping trip: The benefits of nature and the outdoors on child development are extensive. A newfound love of the outdoors is also being discovered across the globe due to the pandemic, as being outside is often a safer alternative in combating the virus. As the pandemic changes our way of life, increased stress and anxiety is being felt by children and families everywhere. To help manage this, it is important to remember that even as little as 20 minutes of outside time a day can help bolster children’s happiness and wellbeing.

         Some libraries even offer activity kits in the form of a backpack filled with free admissions passes to places like nearby National Parks, botanical gardens, state parks, museums, and aquariums, as well as helpful items like maps, a compass, binoculars, or notebooks and pencils! This helps to provide equitable access to places like National and State Parks, offering the significant benefits of nature and the outdoors on child development to all. Many National Parks also offer fun and educational Ranger Programs and even “Jr. Ranger” programs to help children learn to love, be safe in, and protect the outdoors.

How Storypod can help:

          Going to a National Park? Download your Storypod content and use age-appropriate headphones for the car drive there! Many of our Audio Experiences help children learn about the outdoors, curiosity, habitats, and conservation! Here’s a peek at just a few:

  • Sammy Songbird sings about hiking and getting reading for outdoor recreation.
  • Melodee Moose sings about playing outside.
  • The Ultimate Exploration Bundle is designed to nurture your child’s growing sense of exploration about the world around them.
  • Elinor Wonders Why read-along audiobook teaches children about environmental stewardship.
  • Space Safari read-along audiobook helps young readers to learn about animals and our Solar System.

 

6. Let their creativity soar with arts & crafts projects

Not only is art fun, but it is also:

  • A great way to teach kids how to express themselves (which is part of their healthy development)
  • Supports children’s mental health
  • An opportunity to incorporate fun science elements and lessons
  • Helps children strengthen their motor skills

How Storypod can help:

          Connections in young children’s brains are being created by their senses: sound, touch, sight, smell, and taste. Much like holding a crayon or dragging a paintbrush across a page works to develop their motor skills and forge neural pathways, Storypod’s audio speaker works with a child’s sense to strengthen their development. The speaker engages their hearing, works to strengthen their active-listening skills, encourages them to explore their sense of touch with Crafties and buttons, helps promote hand-eye coordination, creates brain connections with visual lights and activities included in the speaker’s features, and works to develop the whole child by engaging their senses and comprehension.

          Plus, our Frida Kahlo Craftie is here to help children learn about the renowned Mexican painter's life through themes of creativity, resilience, empowerment, and kindness.

$ Pro-tip: If you're struggling to fit the costs of arts and crafts materials or workspaces into your budget (and even if you’re not!) head on over to your local library and check out what arts and crafts programs they offer for kids. They are all completely free. Many libraries will also even offer “Take and Make” arts and crafts kits. These kits include all the supplies needed for a craft and can be taken home for free.

7. Raid this list: 1 Million Screen-Free Activities for Kids

          We all know that too much screen time can work against a child’s early development and learning. Summertime can be an especially tempting time to vegetate in front of screens, but there are plenty of great options out there that not only keep your kids active and learning, but to create opportunities for family bonding.

How Storypod can help:

          With our audio-based Pathway to Learning, we offer interactive stories, songs, dances, activities, trivia cards, audiobooks, and Crafties. The Journal of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience has found that interactive audio experiences for infants and young children help to promote their brain plasticity. Neuroplasticity is important as it allows the brain to adapt, grow, and change due to a person’s experiences in the wider world.

Check out our related articles for more information on this:

 

Bonus: Great summertime reads for kids

 

Conclusion

          We’ve all been through a lot over the past few years, none more so than our wonderful children. As they learn and grow in a world that is rapidly changing, it’s important that they have time to enjoy being kids: To run around outside and laugh with friends or curl up in a pillow fort with a comic book or sit on a boulder during a family camping trip and quietly take everything in. We hope that this summer brings you and your family some wonderful adventures as well as peaceful moments. Thank you for bringing Storypod with you along the way.

References:

  • Nature Plays Key Role in Kids’ Mental Health, Review of 300 Studies Confirms (From Verywell Mind)
  • Makerspaces at Public Libraries (from Urban Libraries)
  • Supporting Your Community Through Making (From Public Libraries Online)
  • Let’s Move in Libraries: an international initiative to get people of all ages and abilities on the path to health
  • Out of the Branches, into the Woods (From American Libraries Magazine)
  • Summer Reading Programs For Kids Made Me Feel Invincible (From BookRiot)
  • From Scholastic: The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Ages 8-10
  • From Reading Rockets: Summer Reading Booklists
  • How to Encourage Summer Reading: A Parent's Guide (From Reading Rockets)
  • 10 Weeks of Summer Reading Adventures for You and Your Kids (From Reading Rockets)
  • Lists of great children’s books by subject: We've Got a List for That! (From The Best Children's Books)
  • Summer Fun for Kids Ages 9 to 12: Reading Lists, Activities, and More (From Read Brightly)
  • Great books by Jason Reynolds, the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature (From Publisher's Weekly)

          Wondering what stage your child is in? We provide caregivers with an easy, customized, online quiz that identifies each child’s unique needs, strengths, and areas for improvement! This allows us to work with caregivers to place each child at their best starting point on our screen-free pathway to learning.

Storypod’s online quiz takes into account:

  • Age
  • Grade-level
  • Developmental milestones
  • Interests
  • Recommendations from the CDC
  • Common Core Curriculum