Pay attention to and talk about your surroundings.
Discuss colors and shapes you see outdoors, asking open-ended questions that encourage your child to explore and discover. What color are the flowers? Can you tell me about the shapes of the leaves? Do all flowers have the same shape leaves? Which house has a red door? Are all the houses you see the same size? Which one is bigger? Asking open-ended questions encourages your child to think through simple concepts and builds a foundation for later learning.
Incorporate STEM skill learning into everyday play!
Everyday summer moments are a chance to dive into concepts like science, technology, engineering and math! Count together the number of times your child goes down the slide at the playground. Talk about swinging while on the swing set. Perhaps your toddler is ready to begin grasping the concept that pumping his legs to go higher. Collect rocks and separate them by features (color, size, shape) then count each group and determine which has the most. Count the number of steps it takes to get to your front door. All of these simple concepts lay the groundwork for analytical thinking.
Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through everyday loving interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, and talking to one another. Change your surroundings by bringing a few favorite books outside. A book you may have read a trillion times can take on a new life. Your local library could also be a great resource for age-appropriate books about summer and outdoor activities.
Sing a song together!
Here’s an example of wheels on the bus with a summer theme: “The waves on the beach go up and down, up and down up and down. The waves on the beach go up and down, all day long. “The clams on the beach open and shut, open and shut, open and shut. The clams on the beach open and shut, all day long. “The crabs on the beach go side to side, side to side, side to side, the crabs on the beach go side to side, all day long. “The lobsters on the beach go pinch-pinch-pinch, pinch-pinch-pinch, pinch-pinch-pinch, the lobsters on the beach go pinch-pinch-pinch, all day long. The waves on the beach go up and down, up and down up and down. The waves on the beach go up and down, all day long.”
Cool off with some water play.
If you’re going to be in a pool, lake or ocean talk to your baby about how water is wet. Does it feel warm or cold? Talk about colors: the pool is blue or the dirt is brown. Discuss the texture of sand then change it by adding water and explain how wet sand sticks together. And, don’t forget water and sun safety!
Adapted from Top 5 Ways to Enjoy Every Moment With Your Little One This Summer By Vera Alsova and Karen Stecherf, © 2017 ZERO TO THREE