by Leah Nieman
As the hot days of summer approach, moms everywhere are bracing for the summer slump that will surely follow the initial excitement of summer break. Once the excitement of “summer break” has worn, complaints of “we’re bored” and “it’s so hot” may be common in your home. It’s easy for kids to become tethered to a device all summer.
The good news is that there are several ways you can provide technology for your child while also including play, learning, and skill development. There are the basic apps that teach science, math, reading, and writing, but lets get real, some apps are just downright boring.
Thankfully there are several wonderful apps out there that will teach your child while encouraging them to play! And when it comes to technology and learning, we need to think beyond simply handing our child a device and telling them to play an app. There are plenty of ways for kids to learn beyond the app!
To help get you started on fun summer technology ideas, I have listed several of my favorite technology ideas for kids below.
5 FUN SUMMER TECHNOLOGY IDEAS FOR KIDS
#1 DIGITALLY ALTER ARTWORK
This is so fun and so easy. All you need is sketch paper and thick markers, preferably a black marker. Have your child draw a picture. Next, scan and save it to the computer. Be sure to save the picture as a JPEG or PNG file. This is the perfect opportunity to teach your child how to scan and save their work if they haven’t learned this skill yet. Have your child then upload their picture to a free program like PicMonkey and digitally alter it using all the fun filters, painting brushes, stickers, and backgrounds. It not only teaches traditional art but also the fun world of graphic design.
Pro Tip: If your child is older or really loves graphic design and you have PhotoShop, let them use it. There are great tutorials showing how to use it. Best of all, the tutorials are FREE!
#2 CREATE A STOP MOTION PICTURE
If your child is into LEGOs, this is the perfect on-screen and off-screen pairing. Your child can make their own LEGO sets, characters, etc. They then take pictures and upload them to the free app, Stop Motion Studio. You can even record voice-overs using Stop Motion Studio (the old LEGO Movie Maker didn’t allow for voice overs). Your kids aren’t limited to LEGO movie creations with Stop Motion Studio either. They can create their own short stop motion film like Wallace and Gromit. This is a great activity for a rainy day. And, it teaches kids how to plan out and stick with a project.
Pro Tip: When your child has their movie created, have them share it with friends and family using Youtube or via email. See my tips on YouTube video sharing options.
One of my favorite things to do while I was a kid was gaze up at the stars. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a super cool app like StarWalk. With StarWalk all you do is hold your phone or tablet up to the sky like you are going to take a picture. The app will then show you the stars it can see in your area. Tap on the different stars and the app will show you facts and tidbits about those stars. It also has a calendar of celestial events like planetary alignments, full moons, solar eclipses, and meteor showers. Best of all, this is a kid friendly version. So, the app is formatted and designed for kids. There is also an adult version if you have older kids or if you’d like it for yourself.
Pro Tip: If your child loves astronomy, see all my favorite Space Apps at The Homeschool Scientist.
I honestly think this is one of the best activities for kids. All you need is your phone and the free Geocaching app to get started. After you create your account you can choose a cache to go find. The GPS tracker will help you each step of the way. After you find it, sign the logbook and then continue on. You can trade the cache, which means you take what is there and leave something new behind. Just make sure you leave something behind. Just taking the cache is not a very good practice and ruins the fun for everyone. The best part of Geocaching is you can look for caches most anywhere in the world. The best place to start is in your hometown!
Pro Tip: There are many Geocaching apps available. But, here is the official Geocaching app for iOS and Android
*Editor’s Note: We tried this too!
#5 PHOTO SCAVENGER HUNT
When I was a kid I loved scavenger hunts. They were like a grand adventure where I got to be an explorer and find buried treasure. Now there are hundreds of scavenger hunt lists online. And playing is a breeze. The best part is that you can do it with your child and spend some quality time with them! Or you can invite a whole group, grab your phones, and start hunting. Every time you find something on the list, take a picture. Whoever finds the most items is the winner!
Pro Tip: Extend this adventure by using your photos to create a fun video so you can remember your scavenger hunt day. You can use a free video creation tool like Adobe Spark which allows you to upload your images and a select a song to make a movie.
I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration. What are your favorite summer technology ideas for kids? I’d love to hear your ideas! Share them in the comments section.
Leah Nieman has been speaking to parents and teens about technology, social media, and parenting for the past 10 years. She’s a popular speaker who offers sessions, advice, and resources so parents can raise kids with a healthy perspective of technology and social media. You can find her eBooks Connected: Apps All Parents Should Know, Quick Guide to Parental Controls for Kindle, and Connected: A Parent’s Guide to Snapchat, as well as tips on technology and social media at leahnieman.com. Sign up for her weekly Tech Talk for Parents Newsletter