Summer Fun Family Learning Activities | Featured Columnists

Summer vacation has officially begun and students across the island are looking forward to unwinding and relaxing over the next few months.

While some children will attend summer camp, summer school, or other supervised activities, others will have endless free time. To fill the hours and keep kids entertained and out of trouble, it can be very tempting for parents to allow them to spend hours every day in front of the television, phone, or computer screen.

However, research has shown that watching TV or playing games on a computer or phone for more than two hours a day can lead to antisocial behavior, lower verbal IQ, and altered brain structure in children.

Over the next few months, instead of being in front of a screen, you and your family have the opportunity to read, explore, enjoy nature, spend more time with each other, do things home and do some of the things you’ve been thinking about doing.

Below are 25 suggestions you and your family can do instead of staring at the screen:

1. Visit the library. Take a family evening to go to the municipal library. During your visit, get or renew your library card and find good books to read with your family or individually.

2. Prepare dinner as a family. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids and teach them to cook at the same time.

3. Start a family night. Many families find that setting aside one night a week to be together as a family has really helped their family unit. Go to the mall, rent a movie, or go out to dinner together.

4. Play board games. There are plenty of board games you can play as a family – Monopoly, Clue, Chutes and Ladders or Charades to name a few.

5. Take a nature hike. Hikes of varying difficulty levels take place every weekend.

6. Observe the night sky. Get a book on the different constellations from the library and see if you can identify them. You can also observe the moon. You can also:

7. Organize your photos in real albums or in computer albums.

8. Send “good morning” cards or emails to friends or relatives you haven’t been in touch with in a while.

9. Volunteer for a community organization or charity.

10. Learn to cook a new dish or an imitated recipe.

11. Go camping (even if it’s in your front or back yard).

12. Learn to say simple sentences in a few different languages.

13. Take a long walk with a friend or family

14. Declutter and organize a junk drawer or closet

15. Organize your family recipes in a family cookbook

16. Declutter and organize toys with your kids

17. Make small DIY projects around the house

18. Spend an evening bowling with the family

19. Have a picnic.

20. Prepare a family emergency preparedness kit.

21. Go to a local museum or art gallery.

22. Drive around the island.

23. Visit historic sites on the island.

24. Create a brochure about a place you’ve always wanted to visit.

25. Do something you’ve never done before. Turning on screens for only a few hours a day is a difficult thing for many families to do. If it’s absolutely impossible for your kids to stay tuned for this short time, just try turning off the screens as much as possible. You’ll be surprised how many things you can do as a family when your children aren’t attached to them.

Elizabeth Hamilton, ME, MA, is a teacher with 31 years of professional experience. You can write to him at with your questions or comments.

Sally J. Minick