Summer Experiences = Valuable Mental Development

Posted in Child Care

It's mid-summer and with the warmer days things can get a little slow. What a great time to explore new territory, try some new things and imagine new worlds! It's important for kids to stay physically busy and mentally active when school's out. In fact, experiencing new things during the summer break is as valuable to the brain development process as formal classroom training - and it can be a lot of fun!

So, in the hopes of providing a little impulse-inducing stimulus, share our summer 9 fun brain-engaging experiences with your kid:

Imagine Yourself As Another Person

Step out of your shoes and pretend that you're another person. Maybe it's your mom, dad, sister, brother or grandparent. Maybe a famous person from history, the president, a famous athlete or actor. Or maybe it's someone you see every day like your mail carrier, store clerk or teacher.
  • What do you think it's like (or was like) to be that person?
  • How did the person learn to do what they do?
  • What do you think they are most proud of?
  • What do you think you could say to that person that would make them happy?
  • If that person had super powers, what do you think they would do?
Extra Credit
Go to and explore the stories of some of the famous people from history and imagine yourself as those people.

Find A Great Book

Nothing stretches the imagination like a great book. Here are five resources to find the perfect book:

PBS Parents Bookfinder
Books by age, book theme or keyword.

Oprah Kids' Reading List
Books for early readers to age 12 and up. 

International Reading Association
Books selected from kids, teachers and librarians from around the US.         

Seattle Public Library
Books for new readers, independent readers, award winning books and books from the Global Reading Challenge. 

HarperCollins Parents Choice and Awards Book Finder
Books that have won prestigious awards such as Parents Choice, Newbery Medal, Caldecott, National Book Award. Over 40 award categories to choose from.

Extra Credit
Join a summer reading program. Here are two local ones:
King County Library
Seattle Public Library

Discover a new fruit

Have you ever noticed how many fruits there are in the produce section of the grocery store that you've never even tried? Try a new one today!
  • Make sure it's ripe. With a fruit you're not used to eating, it's hard to know whether it's ripe or not. Do a little research online to find out. For example, here's how to know when star fruit is ripe.
  • Which part(s) can you eat? Ask your friendly produce person or once again do a little research online.
  • What other fruit(s) does the flavor most remind you of?
  • Where does the fruit come from?
  • What does the plant or tree the fruit comes from look like?
Extra Credit
Visit Uwajimaya where you'll find an incredible assortment of unique and exotic Asian produce.

Visit a Park You've Never Explored

Today's the day to explore a park that you've never been to before.
  • What's different about this park than other places you've been?
  • What are the people like?
  • How many different birds and animals can you spot? How about insects?
  • What smells do you notice?
  • Why do you think this park was created in the first place? Can you find any information about its history?
  • What do you like best about this park?
Find a Cool New Park

Extra Credit
Go a little further and explore the National Park Service's Web Ranger Site.


Take a virtual campus tour.
  • What do you think happens in the different buildings shown on campus?
  • If you lived on campus at a college, what would that be like?
  • What do you need to do to get into college?
  • Who do you know that has gone to college? What can they tell you about their experience?
  • Which college would you most like to visit?

Have Fun With Math

Online math games are a great way to stay mentally sharp while having fun. Here are nine sites to challenge your abilities:

Extra Credit
See how long it would take you to count to a billion.

Invent Something

Everything we have was invented by someone. Why not be the next person to invent something cool? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • Invent a new game. Just think of how many games you could create with a ping pong ball for instance.
  • Dream up a fantasy machine or robot that does something cool. Draw a sketch of it.
  • Create a new way to do a chore that's quicker or more fun.
Extra Credit
For inspiration, check out this year's Google Doodle winners. Each year, Google asks kids in kindergarten through high school to draw the next Google Doodle and win a scholarship. This year, the theme was inventions to make the world a better place.

Explore the World

How much do you know about the world? Go to and take a quiz and test your knowledge.

Extra Credit
Want to have fun learning more about the world and the people and animals in it? Check out National Geographic Kids.

Try Some New Experiences On the Cheap

Enjoy some of the best that greater Seattle offers - all at wallet-friendly prices. Again this year, the YMCA has picked the best options for you and your family to enjoy inexpensive family fun. Now get out and explore!