Yesterday, I woke my boys up by blaring the “Are You Ready for the Summer?” song from “Meatballs” in their rooms. It’s a tradition that I do to annoy them on the last day of school each year. It’s fun for me.


Today, there were no alarms, no blaring music, no wake-up times at all. I slept until 8 am. My boys slept in, too. The first day of summer vacation is a do-whatever-you-want day. If they want to watch TV until their eyes bleed, I’m okay with that. If they want to come dangerously close to getting carpal tunnel from a video game controller, have at it. They’ve earned it.


Tomorrow, though, TV and video time get limited and outdoor play will be mandatory. Starting next week, a half-hour of reading and some math will get done each weekday. I’ll throw in a little science once in a while, too. Here are some of the projects I’ve got lined up. Some are quick; some take a little more time. All of them will teach my boys something, even if they don’t realize it.


  1. Naked Eggs – Eggshells dissolve in a mixture of vinegar over a few days, leaving eggs intact only by their membranes. Once the eggs are naked, there’s an experiment you can do with them.
  2. Potato Powered Alarm Clock – A potato, a few items you can pick up in a hardware store, and an LED clock are needed for this classic science fair experiment.
  3. Invisible Ink – Baking soda, milk and lemons are used as invisible inks, and then kids see which ones are easiest to read when colored over with waxy crayons.
  4. Exploding Lunch Bag – This experiment lets kids blow things up – my 9 & 11 year olds will love it. Baking soda and vinegar are placed in zippered bags, and then the bags explode.
  5. Solar Oven – This is the summer I’m going to do it. I’ve said it for the past couple of years, but we’ve never gotten around to it. This year, I’m determined. A couple of boxes, tinfoil and a few other items create a solar powered oven. Then it’s used to bake cookies, fry eggs, or even make pizza. 

How do you plan on keeping your kids' brains active during the summer?

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.