1. Whether the gifted child is six or sixteen, one thing can probably engage them all: ART. Introduce your child to many different forms of visual art--paint, pastels, chalk, collages, mosaics, clay. Use whatever you can find. It doesn't have to be expensive; just use leftover magazines and make collages. Or dig out paints and copy paper. Or break old plates and use the pieces for mosaics. I have even cut out little squares of construction paper to make mosaic patterns. Most importantly, let them take the lead. Don't let them just copy what you are doing.
2. If you have a tech nerd, photography might be an interesting choice for a summer activity. It might even grow into a life-long love. Depending on the age of the child, photography could include taking a digital camera outside to snag some shots of the neighbors' new petunias or it could be a self-taught tutorial in Photoshop. Most of us have a digital camera of some type that we could allow our kids to use, but even brand-new ones are inexpensive for a beginner model. Possibly giving your child an "assignment" would be better; for example, having them create scrapbook pages digitally via Shutterfly. All of these ideas could give your smarty a chance to be creative.
3. One question that drives me nuts basically everyday is this one--"What's for dinner?" Well, heck, I don't know! Why not put these kids to work? Again, depending on their ages, this could involve just helping with recipes to planning and producing dinner for a week! Wouldn't that be wonderful? :) But, in reality, cooking can teach kids many different skills, from math (measurements, fractions, multiplication) to science (how heat or cold can change liquids to solids and back) to creativity (hmmm, we have hamburger meat and asparagus. What can we make?) to the basic skill of feeding oneself. And it's fun! If you want to be really creative, let them help with food presentation. They could decorate the plates with a sauce the way chefs do in fancy restaurants.
4. I've been hearing all this information lately about the additives and harmful ingredients in the food that we purchase in the grocery store. Why not grow your own food, free of all these cooties? Let the whole family choose some of the veggies to grow. Maybe your son could be in charge of the watering schedule, or your daughter could make sure that the weeds had been pulled. Even if you don't have room for a real garden, you could always plant an herb garden in the window. Kids could help add the herbs to their favorite dishes! If it were my garden, I would absolutely have to have those cute little garden stakes labeled with the appropriate veggie so that everyone would know what goodies lie in store for us!
5. If your little brainiac has an entrepreneurial spirit, summer could be the perfect time for him to start his own business. Kids of practically every age are capable of producing some type of product or service that is valuable to others. Many gifted kids are also inspired by the problems of the world. Your child might want to start a business to benefit the local animal shelter or to help kids with cancer. Helping others can be a powerful motivator for our gifted kids. But even if your child only wants to add more "Miss Me" jeans to her closet, starting a business can be an important teacher for her. It will teach her about profit margins, costs of producing a product, advertising, and it will definitely challenge her creativity, math skills, problem-solving, and perseverance!
Hopefully this list has given you a few ideas for keeping your child's brain and imagination engaged this summer. I know there are lots more ideas out there. Share your ideas with us in the comments below!