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DIY Creative Learning: 6 Fun, Low-Cost Summer Activities For Teens

(It’s that time of year and we’re happy to once again share our ideas for having fun with summer learning!)

Yay! Summer’s here! School’s out! You can forget all about learning for a while.

Wait, what? Forget about learning? Studies say you don’t want to forget all about it. If pressed, you’d probably agree that your brain feels like mush if your summer activities are just binge-watching old TV shows and getting your thumb in a cast playing a zillion hours of video games. The dreaded summer learning loss is just not worth the pain the out-of-shape brain brings at the start of the school year.

creative_mind_2So good for you, you want to keep your brain awake during the summer. But you’d rather not have to sit in hot classrooms or fill out mind-numbing worksheets. And though there might be “enrichment” classes that could be interesting, maybe you are unable to attend them for some reason or another (too far, inconvenient schedule, too expensive, whatever).

The good news is that you can make your own learning plans for the summer! l

Learning doesn’t have to be structured, or be in the form of lessons taught by someone else. We have some ideas for summer activities that:

  • Can be done at little or no cost with readily available materials
  • Take up as little or as much time as you care to put in
  • Can be done pretty much anywhere in the world (even if you’re at Grandma’s)
  • Build your critical, and creative, thinking skills
  • Are totally controlled by you!

The steps for any of these activities are pretty simple:

-> Pick something you enjoy doing.

  -> Dive deep to learn about it.

  -> Make it your own.

Check out our ideas to get you started!

1. If you’re into games.

Is playing video/online/board games how you relax?

Take your favorite game and think about how you would do it. In detail. How would it work, what would be the rules. Keep refining it. And then create a new game with your own rules.

If it’s a board game, here are some ideas on getting started and even build a prototype with cardboard. This is a good one to do with friends, you can at least get them to play it with you.Think the characters in the video games are stereotyped? Mix them up. The levels are too easy? Add new ones. If you want to take on coding, you can create, or add to, an online game. Minecraft modding anyone?


2. If you love movies.

Watching movies is almost an universally popular way to spend time, but do you feel you’re more than a mere fan, you’re a critic and aficionado?

How about going beyond watching movies to thinking about making one? Take a favorite movie and think about how you’d remake the movie. Think (or learn about) about all the stuff that actually goes into making a movie – you’d be amazed at how much there is to learn and do.

But, though it is good to be informed, don’t be intimidated by what it takes to make a professionally. Write a script, recruit a few friends, charge up your smart phone and create your own masterpiece. You’d see the difference between making a movie and capturing 10 seconds of your dog chasing its tail to share on Snapchat – the first step to preparing for being asked to make Star Wars Episode 35: The Force is Still There.

3. If you’re a maker.

Are you into the Maker movement and DIY thing? Do you like to knit, crotchet, sew, solder or glue stuff together?

Then forget instructions and patterns. Think of something that you’d like to make and go about making your own instructions, patterns, how-to guides. Experiment, review, revise, repeat. This is also an activity you can do with friends. Whether it is making a doggie hat or a robot, you will be exercising your brain as well as your maker skills. Here are some suggestions for DIY ideas to get you started on thinking about what you’d like to make.


4. If sports are your thing.

Are you into one or more sports at school but not attending a sports camp this summer? Or you’re just a casual player and would just like to get better?

Whatever your sport, you know you can get better at it. There’s practice and watching/learning from the pros of course – that what you get from camps. But athletes are turning to analysis to figure out how to improve.

What if you did the analysis for yourself? Angling the ball differently to make a basket, how you can put more power into your kick if you change the way you stand – you may be able to learn some of this on  your own. Recruit a friend and two and make your own mini-camp. Take turns capturing plays on the video, review your play against the pros (YouTube has you covered there), make your own training schedule.

5. If you really like writing.

Do you read a lot and enjoy the challenge of creative writing, or would just like to get better at it?

One summer may not be enough time for you to finish the Great American Novel, but it will help to get started. Or tackle something smaller and set yourself a challenge like writing a mystery short story. Do some research on writing resources for teens (you can get started with the one here) to figure out what interests you.

If you prefer to write something shorter and get more immediate feedback, try writing your own blog. This site might give you some ideas.  (Contact us if you’d like to write a post for us!)


6. If you want to change the world.

You often volunteer for various causes to help people, why not take some time to get more involved?

Pick one problem that you wish you could fix, example, preferably something close to home, but that’s not a requirement. Dig around to find out what is already out there to help fix this problem and if there’s something you can do to help, you can start by looking into this resource site. You can also take on bigger sized projects, either one that already exists (like sending used books for kids in Africa) or one that you’d like to start. You will find many adults willing to give you support, and you will gain invaluable skills while helping others.

These are just some quick, simple ideas to get you started. Do your own add-ons and take it as far as you’d like to go. Take ownership of your summer activities for learning, at least for some of them, you’ll enjoy the experience!

And let us know how it goes – it would be great to share your experience with others!



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