It’s hard to believe, but the end of summer is in view. Looking for fun and rewarding activities for your children that also boost brain cells? Check out these tips, courtesy of the National PTA and  Carson Dollosa Publishing.

  • Never too young to volunteer Teach your children early about the satisfaction of helping others. There are lots of volunteer opportunities you can arrange for children in your community, such as visiting the elderly, walking dogs, or petting cats or rabbits at your local animal shelter.
  • My private concert Numerous bookstores offer listening stations in their music departments. This is a great way for your child to listen to favorite bands and performances without having to buy a thing. Remind children that these are consumable items that need to be handled carefully.
  • Neighborhood olympics All you need is a big back yard and a plan. Set up obstacle courses, sprinting lanes, and a variety of field events. Offer gold, silver, and bronze awards made by the children. Invite the neighborhood to bring healthy potluck snacks and talk about how great it feels to be physically active.
  • Leaf identification Armed with nothing but a bag, head for a nearby park or woods. Gather fallen leaves of various colors and shapes. Take them home and using books or the internet, identify the tree to which each belongs.
  • Nature scavenger hunt Make a list of at least 10 interesting things that can be found in nature, such as a red leaf, a pinecone, a bug, a white stone, an acorn, etc. Drive to a nearby park and turn the kids loose with their lists and a bag. If your children like to compete, see who can collect the entire list first.
  • Talent show Host a talent show at your home. Solicit participation from school and neighborhood friends. Showcase all kinds of talents, from playing the kazoo to magic tricks! Make invitations and send to family and neighbors.
  • How it’s made Sometimes it seems that the origin of all things is a store. Call around to various manufacturing plants in the area and arrange a tour to show your kids where things really come from. It’s fascinating to watch how pretzels are made, how vegetables are canned, or how cowboy boots are stitched.