Summer break is coming up fast. Sure, you could become mayor of your local pool on Foursquare or dedicate your time to answering the Call of Duty, but instead, here are four free things to do over summer break that are not only fun, but will make you and your community a better place.
What better way to shake off nine months of studying than getting involved in the world outside of school? There are a lot of cool projects you can get involved with. You can do short internships, or you could work with younger kids to share your knowledge as a camp counselor or just reading books. If you love art, music, and dance, there are all kinds of summer festivals and concert series that need help. And you can’t forget about the warm fuzzy feeling you get while helping others.
2. Plan a reading list
Reading is one of the best ways to build your brainpower while having fun at the same time. It’s also a great way to build your vocabulary and improve your own writing. You could read the great works of literature, but even well-written science fiction, adventure, or mystery novels are better than just browsing the Web. Your local public library will have a list of recommended summer reading, all available free of charge. Many libraries even have e-book lending programs now, so you can take your book with you on a tablet, e-reader, or phone. Better yet, stop in to your local branch and ask a librarian for their suggestions based on books you already love. You’ll get a more personal experience while totally making their day. Finally, you can take a look at www.summerreading.org for a list of age-appropriate suggestions.
3. Start a blog
You don’t have to do anything fancy—just write about what’s going on in your life, plans for the future, and so on. Not only will you get better at writing, but you’ll also be building a valuable set of skills for the future. For hosting websites that are both free and easy, check out Blogger and Wordpress. If you’re more artistic than wordy, it’s easy to link out to free photo-sharing services like Flickr and Imgur. If you’re a musician at heart, you can customize your blogging experience with music-hosting sites like Soundcloud or Bandcamp. And if you want to really personalize your blog, you can always pick up a book on website design from your local library.
4. Learn something new
School is all about structured learning objectives: reading, math, history. Summer can be a time to branch out and learn something off the beaten path. There is a series of videos on YouTube devoted to each of the chemical elements (search for “periodicvideos.” Knowmia.com has a well-indexed list of free videos, most of them five to 10 minutes long, on a fascinating variety of subjects. Better yet, learn how to make your own robots, rockets, or chemistry experiments. Take a look at Make: magazine for a wealth of ideas and instructions. For the more artistically inclined, you can find some superb music lessons online, as well as drawing and painting—all of them free.
School provides a good foundation, but your summer break is the time to put all those pieces together and get to know your world a little better. Whether it takes the form of volunteering, reading, or learning something new online, be sure to harvest your creativity. Whatever you do though, don’t just sit there.