minutes. Or break reading time into two thirty-minute chunks — one for a parent-approved book and the other for whatever your child chooses to read. The library offers lots of variety, and summer is a great time to check out age-appropriate comic books and graphic novels, as well as cookbooks and biographies. 3. Visit museums in your area. Find out in advance when the free days are to visit local museums and learning centers. Opt for a guided or non-guided tour, as your family prefers. Be sure to check out the gift shop on your way out for inspired games and toys. 4. Plant a garden together. Use illustrated gardening books by Sharon Lovejoy to find projects that suit the personalities of your family and kids. If your family loves pizza, plant a pizza garden. If fresh salsa is your thing, plant a salsa garden. Think about what your family likes to eat and plant accordingly. See sidebar for guidebooks bursting with gardening inspiration. 5. Shop like a teacher. Visit your local teacher supply store and stock up on workbooks and educational games. Other things you will find that might motivate summer loungers include timers for breaking the day up into learning chunks, craft supplies for every age, and educational games, videos and music. 6. Play store. Pull a portion of the food in your cabinets and pantry out onto the countertops. Let kids use real money, price items, break out the calculators, and do the math. Make playing store an all-day affair or a weekly occurrence, if your kids enjoy it. Make the game as simple or complex as suits your childrens’ ages. 20 | V O L U S I A parent M A G A Z I N E 7. Visit local nature centers, Audubon societies, and nearby gardens. Make a list at the beginning of summer and plan to hit all the regional natural destinations before the first day of school. Then, plan a weekly outing and bring along a picnic. To review what you saw and learned on the way home play “I Spied,” instead of “I Spy.” 8. Research a future vacation. Let each child pick their own destination and figure out what it would cost for the family to spend one week there including airfare, transportation, meals, hotels, and everything else. Have them present their proposed vacations to the whole family by showing the math writ large on posterboard. Who knows, they just might talk you into a trip you hadn’t thought of yourself. 9. Let them plan a meal. The kids can become chefs for the day, including the jobs of finding the recipes, making the grocery list, cutting the coupons, doing the shopping, comparing brands, and cooking up a storm. Then be a good sport and enjoy whatever they serve. Very young children can do the same, only with make- believe food. 10. Have a word of the day. Put the word in large letters at the top of a page with the definition just below. Hang the word on the fridge and make a game out of using it in sentences all day long. 11. Battle bugs or weeds as research projects. What a great way to practice troubleshooting and potentially solve your most nagging nuisances. Challenge older kids to solve your ecological challenges by researching and experimenting with natural solutions they track down on the Internet. Keep a log of the results. Give rewards for problems solved.