Five Simple Activities For Summer That Keep The Brain Challenged

The brain is not meant to stop learning over the summer—in fact, studies show that when school closes during the summer break, students’ brains can actually lose information acquired during the school year.

And to make matters worse, after a period of time spend not actively learning, it takes much longer to get the brain back into the momentum of learning, which means students actually start the fall off further behind than where they left off in June.

Luckily, this backward momentum is easily avoided with some simple summer activities that combine fun with a little mental stimulation.

Here are five simple summer activities that keep the brain challenged:

Play a New Board Game. Not just for rainy afternoons inside, board games are actually great learning tools.  They help kids develop broader thinking abilities such as strategy, planning, and action-consequence relationships. Try out a new game and learn the rules together, rather than playing from the familiar rules of a favourite game.

Keep a Journal. Start a journal this summer to write down daily thoughts, fun and exciting events, and observations about daily life.  Or, try writing a short story, a little bit at a time. You can even have multiple people contribute to the plot. At the end of the summer students will be left with a great memento, and stronger writing skills!

Solve a Puzzle. Like board games, puzzles are great downtime activities that keep the brain challenged. Whether playing Sudoku, Crosswords, search-a-words, or the traditional jigsaw variety, puzzles are a fun way to challenge the mind and learn skills such as persistence and problem solving.

Pick up a Controller. Despite the propensity for kids to zone out and disengage for hours at a time, there is actually a lot going on cognitively when playing video games.  Studies have shown that game play can improve hand-eye coordination, problem-solving abilities, and even grown certain areas in the brain. Like board games, invest in a new game (or borrow one) to ensure kids’ grey matter is being extra challenged.

Read. The simplest way to ensure that the cerebellum is firing on all cylinders this summer is by reading. The act of reading activates certain parts of the brain (language), which keep those areas growing. Any reading works—comic books, novels, non-fiction, magazines, blogs… they all help build vocabulary and keep the brain stimulated. Plus, reading can easily go everywhere you do, no controllers, patch cords, outlets, or batteries necessary.

Oxford Learning provides supplemental education services across North America. It offers programs for young people from preschool through university, and its cognitive approach goes beyond tutoring to ignite a lifelong love of learning. Find out more at http://www.OxfordLearning.com.

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New Feature – Fresh Air Friday? #FreshAirFriday

Today is a picture perfect day - weather wise that is. The sky is blue with a few white cloud scattered about. There is a gentle breeze. It’s in the high 70′s with no humidity (or at least none that I can feel), which is a far cry from the dark, rainy and miserable weather we’ve been having here in New York. If it could be just like it is today all summer long that would be a dream come true (I am not a fan of heat and humidity).

I just came in from spending about a half hour outside on my balcony. I’ve been trying to make an effort to take a break from the computer around lunch time and just sit outside on my balcony. Either I’ll read, rest my eyes (and doze off!) or find something else to do. I find that I am less frazzled when I take a break and get some fresh air. I also saw on TV that you should get at least 10 minutes of sunlight on your arms and/or legs every day to help your body create Vitamin D. I get sunburned just thinking about the sun, however I have been making an effort to stick my legs in the sun for at least 10 minutes a day.

A few weeks ago I participated in a focus group with The Motherhood and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). Myself and other mom bloggers have been discussing ways to encourage families to get outside more often. Not only for health reasons but also to re-connect and stay connected with your family (this means ditch the electronics!), develop awareness of our environment, have fun and to create memories that will last a lifetime. After all, your kids are going to remember the time you flew kites down by the river more so then they would what show was popular that year or what their favorite Nintendo game was at that time.

Some of my most precious memories growing up mostly involved outdoor activities, from camping and fishing to riding bikes and catching Fireflies/Lightening bugs.

During the first focus group I came with the idea of creating a weekly feature on my site called Fresh Air Friday. Every Friday I would post something to do with getting outdoors with your family. It might be a craft, a scientific experiment, game, tips or a variety of other ideas. I might write about a local park, or maybe interview someone who is involved with the outdoors. It would be something different each week. The whole idea is to encourage my readers to turn off the TV, power off the cell phones and enjoy the outdoors with your family, whether its at a national park or you own backyard.

I even came up with the hashtag #FreshAirFriday. :-)

Some additional ideas I have include;

-  Weekly reader question/questions and answers. I’m not an expert but I can answer them as well as maybe research the question a bit further and if possible find an expert to give an expert’s answer too.

-   Weekly reader tip, craft, recipe or ???. Readers can submit their best tips, games, craft or anything else that would help get families  outside or other kinds of tips/suggestions. I can pull one (or more) and post them on Friday. I would give full credit to the person who submits the tip, including a link to your website if you have one.

-   Contests. I would love to hold contests that help promote families to get outside. I would have to find some sponsors but I would love to do it.

-   Reader submitted photos. I would LOVE to share photos of real families (and not stock photography families) enjoying the outdoors.

This is where I need your help. I would like to hear from my readers about the idea of a weekly Fresh Air Friday feature. Is this something that you would enjoy? Or dislike? Would you be anxious to see what I would come up with week after week? Or would you dread Friday posts because of it? I would love to know your honest opinions. You can either leave me a comment in this post or e-mail me directly at SheScribes “at” Optonline “dot” net. Please put Fresh Air Friday in the subject line just in case your e-mail ends up in my SPAM folder. That way it would be easier for me to see it.

If you are all for this idea I would also love to hear from my readers about the types of things you would be interested in me posting about. Is there something about being outdoors that you would be interested in learning more about? Do you have questions or concerns about getting your family outside and enjoying nature? Do you have children? Do you feel like your children get enough “outdoor” time or are you concerned that they are not getting nearly enough?

All of your feedback is very important to me. If this is something that readers would really be interested in then I want to really do this right. In addition, if you have something you think might make for a great Fresh Air Friday feature, please reach out to me too. If you have a fun idea, great tips or even expert advice feel free to reach out to me. Of course I will give you full credit (and link back to your site if you have one). I’m also open to the idea of reviewing products and/or services that would encourage families to get outdoors and/or hosting giveaways (just in case any PR or companies read this).

Thank you for your time. I’m looking forward to your feedback.


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Celebrating Spring with a Snapfish Party

I am obsessed with taking pictures. I take pictures almost every day. I love taking pictures of my children (much to their dismay – you have to love teens…). They grow up so quickly that I want to be able to remember all the little moments as well as the big ones. I also like taking pictures of my pets when they do something cute or funny.

When we’re out and about and I have my camera with me, watch out! Plan on stopping numerous times why I try and snap the “money shot”. My husband jokes that I’m the only person he knows who’ll take 200 pictures of the same butterfly. What he doesn’t understand is that I’m hoping to capture a few impressive photos. The rest of just delete (thank goodness for digital cameras).

I’ll share some of my favorite pictures here in this post. Sadly these pictures are wasting away on my external hard drive. It’s a shame too. That is why I love being able to share them with my readers. It’s nice to “see” them again.

I would have to say that 95% of my photos never get seen outside of my immediate family. Once I show photos to my husband and kids they get transferred to my external (one of many) or burned on to discs. It’s almost as if I shouldn’t bother taking photos. But the fact is that I LOVE taking pictures. I just don’t know what to do with them after I take them. 

My husband gave me a photo book for Christmas 2010. Since then I have become hooked on photo books. We have several in our bookcase. I make up photo books for my trips to LA, the kids, our family, “the year in review” and so forth. They are fun to look at over and over again. I love how you can add text, group photos together and create a truly one-of-a-kind book. They are much nicer then traditional photo albums. We have about 30 photo albums that we barely look at. We look at our photo books all the time.

Photo books make great gifts. They are fun to give to the grandparents filled with photos of the grandchildren over the year. They are also fun to give to your friends. I had the idea of giving one to a childhood friend of mine with photos of us through the years. That would be a fun way to take a walk down “memory lane”.

I have always wanted to get a few of my photos made into a canvas print so I can display them around my home. I love how they look. Framed or unframed they really make photos come alive. Ideally I would love to have a family portrait done on a canvas print.

For some odd reason I tend to take better nature and animal photos then I do my children. I would love to have canvas prints made up of my entire family. 

I really need to get my photos off my hard drive and on to something that showcases them so that I can proudly share them with family and friends. This is why I am super excited to announce that I was asked to host a Snapfish at home party to help celebrate Spring with family and friends. I cannot wait to share my photos with everyone as well as explore all the fun ways we can share out beloved photos with one another.

I was actually looking to Snapfish to create invitations for the party. I wanted to order but I’m not sure if they will arrive in time for me to mail them out to everyone. Plus I’ve already spoke to everyone so an invitation at this point might be redundant.  My daughter’s birthday is coming up. While I was looking for invitation for this party I found a few my daughter might like. We just need to finalize what she wants to do for her birthday. 

Snapfish offers so much more than just copies of your pictures. They have jewelry, home decor, office products, stationary and more.

When people think about photos on every day objects they often think about mugs, calendars or mouse pads. Snapfish does offer these products but they also offer t-shirts, aprons, posters, “skins” for your smart phone or laptop, playing cards and ornaments, to name a few.

Father’s Day is coming up soon. I saw a few things I’d like to create for a Father’s Day gift. I love the desk organizer and desktop calendar. I think I’m going to use Snapfish to make those up for my husband for Father’s Day.

Did you know that you can have your Snapfish order sent to your local Walmart, Duane Reed, Meijer or Walgreens for pick up? I didn’t know that. That is great to know. We have a Walgreens a few miles from where I live.

When shopping on Snapfish look for the icon that says “Pick up in store” and you can have your order ready for pick up the same day you order it in most intances. Some of the products include posters, photo books, cards and of course prints.

My Snapfisih party is scheduled for May 6, 2012 at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. I’m going to share the party with my readers through photos and possibly video. I’ll share with you the fun ideas we come up with plus anything I learn to help bring you photos out of hiding on hard drives and out for everyone to see and enjoy.  I am super excited about this. I’m very passionate about photography and I’m excited to see how Snapfish can help me to showcase my favorite photos for all to see.

For more information about Snapfish visit www.Snapfish.com. You can also “like” them on Facebook (www.Facebook.com/Snapfish) and on Twitter (@SnapfishbyHP).


*This is a compensated post, however as always I only choose to work professionally with companies that I would recommend personally.


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