School’s out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean learning has to end. Summer days are the perfect time to explore STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — with activities perfect for the weather. So keep your cool, keep it fun and keep learning.


Sink, Float, Make a Boat

Fill a kiddie pool with water. Collect a variety of objects you don’t mind getting wet, such as water bottles (full and empty), keys, small plastic toys, apple, spoon, boiled egg, cork or a bar of soap. Have kids predict which items will sink and which will float. Then test each object. Were there any surprises? Encourage kids to speculate why some float and some don’t. Then using what they’ve learned, have kids make boats from recycled materials. They can test their boats and make adjustments for flotation and stability. Use the boats in races or a boat parade.

Summer Reading Suggestions

  • Things That Float and Things That Don’t by David A. Adler provides simple explanations about density, sinking and floating for young readers.
  • Captain Kidd’s Crew Experiments with Sinking and Floating by Mark Weakland uses a pirate story to help kids understand density.
  • In What Floats in a Moat by Lynne Berry, Archie the Goat has to build a boat to cross a moat, and has some false starts before getting one that works.


Wish on a Shooting Star

The Perseid meteor showers are the perfect time to do some night sky viewing. In 2018, the best time to view the Perseids is Aug. 11, 12 and 13, though you may catch activity from July 13 through Aug. 26. The moon will be a crescent during the peak of the showers, allowing for even better viewing.

Watching for meteors takes patience. Even on a peak night, you may not see much. Keep expectations low and enjoy being out at night. There’s plenty to see even if meteors aren’t streaking across the sky. Meteors are often referred to as shooting stars. Have fun making your own shooting stars and wishing on them with this craft.

  1. Collect card stock, tissue paper, scissors, glue and a pen or marker.
  2. Cut large stars out of card stock.
  3. Glue narrow tissue paper strips to the bottom of each star. Let dry.
  4. Write a wish on each star.
  5. You can stop here and hang the shooting stars, or you can fold the star in half along the top point. Fold each side back halfway to make the star look something like a paper airplane. Take your stars outside and give them a toss. Watch them shoot through the sky.

Summer Reading Suggestions

  • Look Up! Henrietta Leavitt, Pioneering Woman Astronomer by Robert Burleigh tells the story of this early female astronomer.
  • What happens when a meteorite lands? Find one answer based on a true story in Meteor! by Patricia Polacco.
  • Wishing on a Star by Fran Lee is a good introduction to constellations and night sky watching for young stargazers.

Boom! Flash! Exploring Summer Storms

Thunderstorms can happen any time of year, but are most common during summer months. Whether your kids are frightened or fascinated by thunderstorms, understanding how they work is enlightening. Thunderstorms form when cold and warm air masses meet. In the clouds, static electricity builds up until it is released as lightning. The sound we hear when that happens is thunder.

Try tracking your weather for several days. Some things to observe: Does the temperature change before or during a storm? What do the sky and clouds look like? Does the wind pick up or does the air get still? What kind of precipitation (rain or hail) do you get? Which direction does the storm come from? How long does it take to get to you? How long does it last?

Use a stop watch to check the time between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. (Do this from a safe place indoors.) For every five seconds, the storm is about a mile away. Use dark paper and white, yellow, silver or pale blue paint to create a lightning storm on the page.

Summer Reading Suggestions

  • Flash, Crash, Rumble, and Roll by Franklyn M. Branley explains how thunderstorms form and shares fun facts about these powerful weather systems.
  • Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco is the story of a young girl frightened by summer thunderstorms and how she overcame it with the help of her grandmother.
  • Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert details this weather phenomenon through detailed illustrations.

Whether you explore the wild summer weather, the dazzling night sky or the best way to build a boat, summer STEAM activities are a cool way to spend hot days.



Sara Barry is a freelance writer who loves exploring the changes in her environment throughout the seasons.

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