This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

As a kid, when summer hit I was all about having fun and getting in as much outdoor playtime as I could. I did attend summer school classes, but I only picked ones that were fun for me; like camping and orienteering. Even though it felt like I was just having a good time, I was actually learning useful skills.

Preventing Summer Brain Drain

Research shows that kids can lose one to three months of learning over the summer in what’s called the “Summer Brain Drain.” But the thing is, learning can be fun and kids don’t even have to realize you are teaching them something if you pick activities they will enjoy. Summer Brain Games, such as the ones offered through the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, are a great way to combat “summer brain drain” by keeping kids thinking and learning over the summer in a fun and engaging way.

Image Credit: Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

Summer Brain Games

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is offering up a fun and free online science program called Summer Brain Games that will keep kids learning this summer and prevent the “summer brain drain.” When you sign up, you’ll get a pass to come to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry for free this summer.

Each week there is a new experiment or science challenge that can easily be performed at home. After registering, you can download the entire Summer Brain Games kit for free. My kids and I chose an activity out of the kit and tried our own hand at some fun brain challenges.

We skipped ahead a little and decided the pinhole viewer would be a great activity for us. My son (6yrs) and daughter (3yrs) had tons of fun putting the viewer together, and then viewing the images. As they were creating their viewer (with some helpful instructions from mom), I explained to them how cameras used to work before we had the digital ones we have now. As a science teacher, I of course wanted to divulge into light rays, etc.; but I didn’t think that it was something my two young kids were quite ready for so we stuck with the history of cameras. They were both fascinated to know that they could basically make their own camera.

Austin constructing the pinhole viewer
Austin constructing the pinhole viewer
Isabella looking at images in the viewer
Isabella looking at images in the viewer

We had a great time looking at trees, the mailbox, other houses…all which appear upside down when viewed through the pinhole viewer. We then took a walk down to a local church to try something a little bigger. I tried to capture an image of what you can see on the inside of the viewer, but it is tough to get an image of an image that is inside a box.   🙂

Pinhole viewer images

The next activity we tried was the homemade rain gauge. This was a project that I thought my 3yr old could complete without much difficulty, and one that both kids would have fun with as they measured how much rain we have received. We actually received so much rain over the past week that our gauge overflowed, and we didn’t have a chance to get any measurements. One tip to keep in mind….be sure to check the gauge every day if you are planning on getting accurate results. This is something we didn’t plan out very well, and are now starting over to try again.

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