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50 FUN Summer Activities to Build Executive Functioning Skills

water balloonsOne of the buzz words today in education is “executive functioning skills” (EFSkills). With the increased demand on students to achieve higher standards to be ready to compete in a global marketplace it isn’t surprising this word is finding its way into teacher/parent conferences.

A Standard List of EFSkills

  • Goal Setting
  • Planning and Organizing
  • Initiating and Persisting
  • Flexibility
  • Execution and Self-Regulation

More than ever in the history of U. S. education our kids are being expected to juggle, manage, follow through, and evaluate multiple subject areas at an earlier and earlier age.

But what if practicing and learning good EFSkills didn’t have to seem like something that has to happen in the boardroom?   What if you could learn these skills through, let’s say, planning a mini golf course with a ball and plastic cups dug into the ground in your backyard or planning and holding a water balloon throwing contest in the neighborhood?

Well, you can and it teaches the same skills.

Below is a list of great summer activities from blogger Linda Sharps at The Stir.  The activities don’t require a parent packing up a kid and hauling them somewhere.  All of these can be done at home.  A key point is to let your child do the activities without your help (as is age appropriate).

Some require more sophisticated EFSkills than others, but all of them promise to be a good time.  Happy EFSing!

50 Fun Things to Do This Summer (No Parents Allowed)

  1. Make a mini golf course with a ball and plastic cups dug into the ground.
  2. Wash the car (actual cleanliness of vehicle is less important than getting soaking wet).
  3. Make your own picnic lunch, but you can only use foods that start with the letter “P.”
  4. Draw a chalk target on the fence and hold a water balloon throwing contest.
  5. Make a for-real, old-school, messy-as-all-heck mud pie.
  6. Compete for who can acquire the biggest grass stains (use old clothes, obvs).
  7. Make a wind chime from things pulled out of the recycle bin.
  8. Disposable camera + sidewalk chalk = create your own chalk movie backdrop. AHHHH GODZILLA!
  9. Build a backyard zip line for dolls or action figures.
  10. Fill a wading pool and launch a massive battle with paper boats.
  11. Design a fairy garden. But for zombie fairies.
  12. Two words: papier mâché. Can you make the Death Star?
  13. Make a pine cone bird feeder … with Nutella. (Luckiest birds EVER.)
  14. Fill jars with colored sand and little toys to make weird art. If they’re Mason jars, slap a photo on Pinterest afterward. Adults go crazy for Mason jar stuff.
  15. Make a crazy backyard obstacle course for a family competition.
  16. Face-paint with old makeup. Use Lady Gaga photos for inspiration.
  17. Try to send soap bubbles through the basketball hoop.
  18. Use old magazines and newspapers to make creepy ransom notes.
  19. Invent an awesome new meal (gummy worm souffle?) and make your own recipe card.
  20. Parents hide all the stuffed animals outside, kids strategize and execute a rescue mission.
  21. Using parent-provided ingredients from the kitchen or pantry, create your own taste test experiment.
  22. Two more words: Mentos and Diet Coke.
  23. Create a totally weird capsule to be buried in the backyard in order to fool people from the future.
  24. Hold a contest to see who can find the grossest-looking bug.
  25. Stage a murder mystery (or, ah, maybe a non-violent crime) using dolls or stuffed animals, parents have to solve it later.
  26. Use duct tape and Tupperware to create a full suit of armor.
  27. Use pens to decorate an old white t-shirt. Loser of the family obstacle course competition has to wear it to the grocery store.
  28. Use old clothes and blown-up balloons to assemble a bulbous, floppy scarecrow for the garden.
  29. Turn a patch of dirt into a mini monster truck jam. Practice saying, “This Sunday, SUNDAY, Sunday …”
  30. Using parent-provided seeds, plant a surprise garden. What will grow? Only the kids know … and you probably forgot.
  31. Write a letter to one-week-later you with instructions for how to spend your day.
  32. Dig for parent-buried treasure in a parent-approved section of the yard.
  33. Go through all your clothes to assemble the most deranged outfit you can come up with.
  34. Paint rocks and add googly eyes to make a disturbing replica of your family.
  35. Create Minecraft characters out of sandwich bags.
  36. Assemble a super-long Domino line that makes a funny word. P-O-O-P?
  37. Create a classic trap out of a shoebox, string, stick, and bait. First one to trap the family pet wins $10.
  38. Use pool noodles and colanders for an epic fencing battle.
  39. Instead of a water balloon fight, use soppy sponges. Grosser AND reusable!
  40. Using old boxes, build a giant robot to protect the neighborhood from Decepticons.
  41. Add a ton of bubble bath to a wading pool, make soap beards and hats.
  42. Create a water pistol target range.
  43. Build tin-can-and-string iPhones.
  44. Trace your shadow but add something extra. Like maybe a tentacle.
  45. Drink a root beer. Hold a contest to see who can come closest to burping the alphabet.
  46. Washable paint + squirt bottle = okay, a huge mess, but you saw how I said “washable,” right?
  47. Make report cards that grade your parents’ performance. Deduct points for refusing to participate in your taste test experiment.
  48. Build a life-size skeleton out of popsicle sticks.
  49. Play with that awful Moon Sand stuff that your parents hate so much, but do it outside. Outside, for the love
  50. …Get out the slip-n-slide … and borrow Dad’s shaving cream to make it even more awesome.
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