Hands-On Projects for Kids and Parents to Do Together

Even when school isn't in session, your child can still be learning. There are myriad hands-on projects you can do at home with your kids to continue their education. These include activities in numerous academic disciplines, such as science, math and reading. The list presented here includes projects that are specifically intended for you and your child to do together.

#1 Fair Share

Whenever you have a meal or a snack, you can play the fair share game to foster math skills such as division. Place all of the food that will be shared together and have your child determine how to equally divide it. For example, if you have pretzels, your child can add them up and divide the total by the number of people. You can also play this game with an uncut pizza to work on geometry skills.

#2 Junk Mail Statistics

While junk mail may seem annoying, it can provide an excellent opportunity for building math skills. Working with your child, sort each day's mail into regular mail and junk mail. Have your child keep a record of the junk mail and look for changes in volume, patterns based on particular days of the week and other trends.

#3 Pinhole Camera

Mixing science and art, building a pinhole camera is a great activity for kids and parents to complete together. You'll need a box or can, light-sensitive paper and a few common household items. Following instructions you can find readily available on the Internet, you and your child can create photographs with your own handmade camera.

#4 Gardening

Gardening is a terrific hands-on activity that will provide countless lessons in the sciences. This project can be done regardless of your available space; if you don't have room to plant a garden in the ground, you and your child can build a container garden that resides indoors.

#5 Building a Story

Writing a story with your child is a creative and collaborative writing activity that you can do together. Start creating a short story, then have your child pick up the plot; go back and forth while trying to challenge each other to make the story interesting and coherent. It's not essential that you write down the story; it can be created aloud to take advantage of time in the car or elsewhere outside the home.

#6 Playing Card Math

There are numerous iterations of basic adding games you can play with a deck of playing cards. For example, you can play a variation of Go Fish in which you try to reach the sum of multiple cards. In this game, you each hold five cards. If you're trying to reach 12 and you have a five and a seven, you can place those cards down. You can also ask the other player for whatever card you need to reach 12.

#7 News Reporter

In this project, you play the role of editor and your child plays the role of reporter. Give your child an assignment and have him or her come back with a written article. The assignment could involve covering a dinner party, interviewing a family member or reviewing a movie the family watches together. This project focuses on writing improvement, but also builds critical thinking skills.

#8 Kitchen Science

The kitchen can be home to a multitude of science projects you can complete with your child. For example, you can pour yeast into a bowl, then add warm water and sugar to observe how the yeast becomes active through the release of carbon dioxide bubbles. You can also create curds and whey by microwaving milk with added vinegar; this experiment provides an unusual way to turn a liquid into a solid.

#9 The Container Game

Using plastic containers of various shapes and sizes, ask your child to estimate which will hold more than others. Your child can attempt to place the containers in a line, from the smallest potential volume to the largest. Test his or her guesses by filling the presumed largest container with water, then pouring the water into the next smallest one. This geometry-based activity fosters spatial reasoning, emphasizing your child's learning of how height, width and depth affect volume.

Whether your child is just learning to read or is already an advanced reader, a reading challenge is a way to develop reading skills. Set a weekly or monthly goal, in terms of the number of books, chapters or pages, that's ambitious but attainable. Offer an agreed upon reward if the goal is met. Then have your child read to you or read together, sharing responsibility for hitting the goal.

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