THE BLOG

Summer TV You Can Feel Good About (With Activities!)

07/18/2014 04:01 pm ET | Updated May 11, 2015
Flying Colours via Getty Images

By Sierra Filucci, Executive Editor, Common Sense Media

When you think about summertime, you might think about swimming, camping, bike riding and other outdoor fun. The reality is that summer also means lots more time in front of the TV.

According to a recent report from the Harris Poll, kids will spend more than 17 hours a week watching TV and playing video games this summer, which is nearly triple the time spent during the school year. And, although TV shows, movies and games are lots of fun, you might feel a bit better about the screen time if kids are watching stuff with some educational value.

Even better, parents can help kids turn their screen time into learning time by matching activities with TV shows. We get you started below with some fun -- and smart -- ideas.

Preschoolers

Peg + Cat (math)
Activity: Ask preschoolers to help with simple cooking tasks, including sorting and counting vegetables or dry beans or measuring sugar and flour for cookies.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That (science)
Activity: Have kids observe animals, either pets at home or animals in the zoo, and draw what they see. How do the animals eat, sleep, and move?

Wallykazam (literacy)
Activity: Walk around the house or a park together and come up with words that rhyme with what you see: for example, cat and hat, and tree and bee.

Little Kids

Cyberchase (math)
Activity: Go to the Cyberchase website and choose an activity to do together, like experimenting with evaporation.

Electric Company (literacy)
Activity: Ask kids to come up with a rhyming rap about their daily lives and then perform it for the family.

Dear America (history)
Activity: Visit the library and look for more information about the time period discussed in the episode.

Nutriventures (nutrition)
Activity: Go to the grocery store and have kids choose one fruit or vegetable for every color of the rainbow, and go home and prepare a feast.

Big Kids

Liberty's Kids (history)
Activity: Interview a family member about his or her personal history or the history of an ancestor. Write it all down and design a cover and present it back to the family member as a gift.

MythBusters (science)
Activity: Make a list of questions kids are curious about. Visit a science museum or library to see if you can find any of the answers.

Tweens

Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey (science)
Activity: Go to a planetarium and watch a show about the stars and planets. Discuss what you learned from both shows.

Horrible Histories (history)
Activity: Act out a history lesson you learned in school in the manner of the show's actors. Make it funny!

All in with Laila Ali (perseverance)
Activity: Think about something you want to accomplish by the end of the summer. Make a list of what you'll need to do to accomplish the goal and start checking off the list.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to:www.commonsense.org.