The middle school years are often difficult for both students and parents, as the children have outgrown childish things but haven’t yet grown into their independence. As such, it can be a challenge to find activities that will keep young adolescents entertained after school and on the weekends. At this age, it’s important to guide them toward making smart and healthy choices, as this could have a significant impact on their safety and well-being later on. Read on for suggestions regarding activities that will occupy and delight the middle school crowd, divided by subject of interest.
If reading and writing are their strong suits, have them give these English-focused projects a try.
Create a family memory book
Preserve the family’s precious store of memories by creating a scrapbook, with funny or heartfelt stories to accompany each photo. This can be done digitally, but if the materials are available, try to steer them toward old-fashioned print photos and rubber cement.
Most book-loving kids will pal around with at least one other who shares their interests. Invite them over for an afternoon of reading from an “assigned” chapter book (if they’d prefer, let them choose their own), and discussing what they’ve read afterward. Be sure to provide refreshments for the discussion–it will make the attendees feel grown-up and special.
Fun with Idioms
Most people don’t consider where popular sayings and phrases came from. Invite him to choose one of their favorites–“by hook or by crook” or “get the ball rolling,” for example–and research its genesis. Beware: This one can get addictive!
Middle School Math
Are they more into fractions and decimals than storytelling? Have them delve into one of these projects instead.
An evening spent playing cards is both mentally stimulating and easy on the wallet. Instead of simple standbys like Go Fish, however, why not go for something a little bit more educational? There are many card games that incorporate a knowledge of basic math to help keep skills sharp, without sacrificing any of the fun. Try Twenty-Five, which is as easy to play as it is difficult to stop.
The kitchen is the place where many adults are most likely to use their fraction skills in their post-academic lives. Provide a practical demonstration by choosing ones favorite cookie recipe and cutting the yield by half, giving him the opportunity to practice the division of fractions.
Look to the Internet
While it’s important for responsible parents to set reasonable limits on screen time, the Web contains a myriad of educational opportunities that shouldn’t be overlooked. Allow her to spend an hour or two a week exploring a math-centric website such as Mathalicious, which offers math lovers a variety of puzzles based on real-life examples, such as basketball and pizza. What middle-schooler could resist?
Perhaps they dream of traveling the world, or is fascinated by old stories. Keep them motivated with one of these activities, with a focus on geography and history.
Create a “hand” contour map
With the advent of GPS, map-reading is fast falling by the wayside. Make topography fun again by encouraging youngsters to create contoured maps using the back of their hands. All that’s required are some water-soluble markers and soap for cleanup. Click here for further instructions.
When History Meets Hollywood
Choose an age-appropriate film that’s based on real-life events. Have children read a legitimate historical account of the tale before cueing up the movie, and then discuss the similarities and differences afterward. Have a list of questions they can ask themselves afterward. For example: Why do you think the filmmakers made this change? Why was it important to include this event? Are there any ways the movie could have been improved by including or excluding a certain detail?
Offer a “map challenge”
Make a list of the world’s ten biggest countries by geographical area, and see if they can match them all by looking at a map or globe. To make it more interesting for a Middle School group, offer prizes to whomever finds the most, or who can name them all the fastest.
Remember, these are only suggestions, meant to provide a template for a shifting roster of Middle School educational entertainment. When learning is presented as an enjoyable activity, children are more apt to approach their studies with an enthusiasm that will be reflected in their academic performance.