Here are several activities that can be enhanced with books to encourage a child to read or explore independently.
- Visit a museum. A trip to the museum doesn’t have to be daunting or even take all day. Instead of going to a museum and trying to see everything, focus on one or two exhibits, such as dinosaurs, plants, or amphibians: then read more about the topic. Suggested books to enhance a trip to the museum: “The Dinosaur Book,” ”Magnificent Book of Reptiles and Amphibians” or “National Geographic Kids Everything Ancient Egypt.”
- Prepare a meal – have a child research his or her favorite food and learn to make it. Cooking shows can be a good start, but when a child is more interested in a certain food or process, then the activity will be more meaningful. Following a recipe in a cookbook to make a meal or bake a dessert will help students learn to follow directions and follow measurements. Help a budding chef begin a cooking adventure with one of these: ”Kid Chef: The Foodie Kids Cookbook: Healthy Recipes and Culinary Skills for the New Cook in the Kitchen” or “Super Simple Baking for Kids: Learn to Bake with over 55 Easy Recipes for Cookies, Muffins, Cupcakes and More!”
- Explore nature. Each season has many things to learn. In spring or fall, a trip to the park or a waterway could be an opportunity to look for small animals, such as squirrels or chipmunks or migrating birds. A beginning birding book can be used to help identify birds and make the activity more engaging. Even if you don’t see a lot of birds or animals, try using a guide to recognize trees. A couple of guides that can help identify flora and fauna on a nature walk are “DK Eyewitness Books: Tree: Discover the Fascinating World of Trees from Tiny Seeds to Mighty Forest Giants” and “Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists).”
- Recycling, repurposing, reusing. Instead of just tossing items into a recycling bin, encourage a child to upcycle: make something new from items that could be thrown away to give it new life. Instead of just recycling, encourage creativity with some tips from “Cardboard Creations: Open-Ended Exploration with Recycled Materials,” “Trash to Treasure: A Kid’s Upcycling Guide to Crafts” or “The Soda Bottle School.”
- Look in the sky – stargazing. Even without a telescope there are stars and constellations that can be seen in the sky. if you live in an area that has more light pollution and makes it difficult to see the stars, checking out the different phases of the moon can be done in most parts of the country if there is no significant cloud cover. Suggested books to help a budding astronomer: “Astronomy For Kids: Planets, Stars and Constellations” and “The Faces, Or Phases, of the Moon – Astronomy Book for Kids.”
Enhancing activities that children are interested in with their own research can increase their curiosity and critical thinking skills while making learning fun. When students learn and research outside of the classroom, they can develop critical thinking skills and learn things they may not have a chance to in their classroom.