Updated on June 29, 2018.
1. For the kid who is destined to take comedy to another level
All kidding aside, knowing how to tell a joke is a great icebreaker for kids. And having a sense of humor is great for their social, emotional, and intellectual development. So when International Joke Day rolls around on Sunday, July 1, this year, launch your family’s first-ever summer of intentional laughter.
How to start? First, model good humor. Giggle out loud, seek out the funny, tell silly jokes, and regale your kids with preposterous stories. Then haul out your favorite book of knock-knock jokes (or something similar) and give your child time to practice being funny. Encourage him to perfect telling this one: Knock, knock. Who’s there? Cows say. Cows say who? No silly, cows say moo! Or this one: Why do cows wear bells? Because their horns don’t work. You just might find yourself ROTFL.
2. For the Revolutionary War buff who knows every word to Hamilton
Add meaning to your Independence Day activities on Wednesday July 4. In addition to your cookout, town concert, and fireworks, go deep with details.
Talk about the founding fathers, their personal and philosophical triumphs and conflicts, and the heroes and villains who had a role in the Continental Congress and the fight for independence.
Hit the library for great books on the topic for kids of all ages. Share them with your American history expert-in-training before the big day, and on the Fourth, host a whole-family trivia contest. Hand out prizes but remember to keep the Q’s easy for little ones, who will be thrilled just to be able to identify the colors of the American flag or reveal the name of our country’s first president.
3. For the kid who sees a particle accelerator in his future
Sunday, July 8, is Math 2.0 Day this year, and for grade-school kids who gravitate to math and science—and for those who take a bit longer to get it—now’s the time to talk math and make numbers fun for youngsters.
Get silly and use phrases like: 4 example, or I heart (sum)mer, or You hungry? How about a piece of pi? Seek out and use other punny expressions in your family conversations. Look up the origin of the word mathematics (hint: it’s Greek). Count windows on houses, petals on flowers, cars on the street, or trees in your yard. Your kid might even love this math fiend’s riddle: Why should you wear glasses during math class? Because it improves di-vison. Or maybe she’ll relate to this one: Why did the math book look so sad? Because it had so many problems.
4. For the kid who wants to study abroad one day and take notes in a foreign language
OK, we get it: Mastering another tongue isn’t everyone’s cup of tea—and plenty of kids will do well without ever taking foreign-language classes.
But research does suggest that by age seven or eight many kids can learn to speak, for example, French or Spanish, and once they learn one foreign language, learning others is easier. So why not take advantage of Bastille Day on Saturday, July 14, and make the storming of the famed fortress in Paris, and the turning point of the French Revolution in 1789, your jumping-off point as you treat your future translator to a few quick lessons.
To commemorate the day, share some uber-useful French expressions: oui (for “yes”), non (for “no”), je m’appelle (for “my name is”), and pas maintenant plus tard (for “not now, maybe later”). Eat crepes, baguettes, éclairs, and other French yummies. Sing cute kids’ songs like “Frère Jacques,” in French and English. Read The Little Prince to your kids and watch the awesome 2015 movie, which you can stream on Netflix or buy on DVD. End the day with a sweet bonne nuit (“good night” in French). Then add a quick je t’aime (I love you) followed by je vais vous voir dans la matinée (I will see you in the morning).
5. For the kid who worships Mother Nature
Gather anything and everything you can safely get your hands on this month and inspire your outdoors-loving kid with her very own I Love Nature Rock and Leaf Collection.
Find large stones, different types of leaves, plus bark, shells, grass, soil, sand (if you’re near a beach), and even bugs and insects to observe and release later. Then, decorate the objects. Grab paint and turn rocks into cute ladybugs. Place them on a desk, or in your garden to customize the landscape and floral design. For fun, dig up info on three of the country’s best-known naturalists: John Muir, considered “father of our national parks”; John James Audubon, (check out his book Birds of America); and Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, author, and National Book Award winner.
6. For your future sommelier, aromatherapist, or food-and-flavor chemist
Host a guess-this-scent party one afternoon or early evening and let your child test his ability to identify sweet aromas and stinky odors. Call this get-together the Sensory Olympics and invite guests to cover their eyes with blackout masks while they ID scents in a basket full of items.
In round one, include the sweet smell of oatmeal cookies, mint leaves, lemon iced-tea packets, vanilla extract, watermelon, strawberries, roses, and lavender. Players earn one point for each correct answer, but really everyone’s a winner. Serve strawberry, kiwi, banana, or tutti-frutti ice cream afterward. Want to boost the challenge for the bravest smellers? Slather fresh crackers with a couple of stinky cheeses. Urge players to sniff the samples and rate them either as not that terrible or ugh, get it out of here.