CFAES Give Today

Ohio State University Extension


Preschool: Summer Activities for Fun and Learning

Backpack Buddies for May
Family and Consumer Sciences
Author: Betsy DeMatteo, Extension Program Coordinator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Hamilton County.

When children come home for the summer, they look forward to a long vacation, but it doesn't take long before you hear, "I'm bored!" Here are some fun, educational activities to do together to make a summer you'll remember. Don't forget to get your child outdoors to play as much as possible. Each of these projects works great in the backyard!



  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 drops dish soap
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • Large bowl
  • Drinking glass, small bowl, or empty 20 oz. pop bottle
  • Red food coloring (optional)

This volcano erupts when the chemicals (baking soda and vinegar) react. A real volcano erupts because of heat and pressure.


First, place the glass or small bowl inside the large bowl (so you don't get "lava" everywhere). Next, mix the water, baking soda, and dish soap inside the cup. Add a drop or two of red food coloring if you like. To make your volcano erupt, add the vinegar all at once to the cup. When your eruption is finished, stir your cup and add more vinegar. You may get several eruptions.

Experiment with your eruption by adding more or less baking soda, dish soap, and vinegar. Record your results on paper to find out which combination gives you the biggest eruption!



  • Empty toilet paper roll
  • Rubber band
  • Wax paper—4" by 4" works well
  • Crayons or markers


Cover one end of the toilet paper roll with the wax paper. Stretch the rubber band around the tube so it holds the wax paper loosely in place. Decorate the kazoo with crayons or markers. When it is finished, help your child test the kazoo by placing the open end of the toilet paper roll lightly against his or her mouth and humming or singing. The vibration of the layers of wax paper should make the kazoo sing!



  • Several different leaves (different kinds work best)
  • Paper
  • Crayons


Show your child how different trees have different leaves. Examine the shape and color of each one together. If you recognize what leaves come from a particular type of tree, teach your child to match leaf shapes to trees too. If you do not know tree types, borrow a book from the library and learn them together. This is a great way to teach your child curiosity and to lead by example!

Notice the veins on each leaf. These help the leaves get water so they can grow. Make leaf prints by placing a leaf on a table, vein side up. Put a paper on top and rub a crayon gently over top. Encourage your child to use different colors and make different effects by overlapping leaves.





Take your child on a special kind of hike—a listening hike. If you can walk through the woods or at a park, it is fun to go there, but this hike can be around your home or apartment building too.

Explain to your child that everyone must be very quiet on a listening hike. Listen very carefully and see how many different sounds you can hear together. Walk for five or six minutes. As you walk, stop occasionally to stand quietly and listen. What do you hear? Insects? Birds? Wind? Cars? Are the sounds you hear from nature or not from nature?



  • Shoe box or other small box
  • Paper (cut it 36" by the width of your box—you can tape pieces together to get this size if needed)
  • 2 pencils
  • Tape
  • Crayons or markers


Place the shoe box on its longest side, with the opening facing you. Draw lines to divide the long paper into three "frames," with each one being the size of the shoe box. Outline the frames in black. Help your child draw a three-part story, with one part in each frame. Keep it simple! Push the pencils through each end of the box. Tape the end of the story to the pencil on the right and roll it up. Tape the other end to the pencil on the left side. Help your child roll his or her story. Let them narrate and talk for the characters as the story unrolls. Have fun making more stories and playing them in your "TV" box!


Grawemeyer, B. (November 2003). Nature Fun. Cloverbud Program Curriculum Instruction Materials. 710 GPM 4.1. Ohio State University Extension.

Grawemeyer, B. (November 2003). Our Flag. Cloverbud Program Curriculum Instruction Materials. 710 GPM 6.3. Ohio State University Extension.

Grawemeyer, B. (November 2003). Television: Making a Choice. Cloverbud Program Curriculum Instruction Materials. 710 GPM 7.3. Ohio State University Extension.

Edited by: Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Highland County; Kathy L. Jelley, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Brown County; and Scott Scheer, Professor and Extension Specialist—Human and Community Resource Development and 4-H Youth Development, The Ohio State University.

Originally posted Jan 23, 2015.