It’s coming for your child! The dreaded Brain Drain: A sharp-fanged monster known for burrowing into your kiddo’s head throughout the summer months and removing up to sixty percent of what they learned over the previous school year by September (and you thought lice were the only pestilence you need worry about). Brain drain is particularly risky during the first few years of school, since tots who fall behind in the early years rarely catch up down the line.

Fortunately, like all monsters, the evil Brain Drain can be fought using that old Schoolhouse Rock slogan: Knowledge is Power! Here, Red Tricycle rounds up five fun activities the whole family can do over the summer that are also (shhh, don’t tell the little guys) educational.

Nature as a Schoolroom

There is plenty to learn in the Great Outdoors, as well. The Central Park Conservancy has daily activities, from music classes to puppet shows to catch and release fishing (wiggling a hook out of a fish's mouth is great for the small motor skills; which, in turn, really greases those writing fingers). And NYC Parks expands that to all five boroughs - check out some of our favorite brain-boosting park activities here. You can help build an eco-house, go back in time to the colonial days or pick up a chess lesson. That's science, history and critical thinking - all for free, too!

At the beach? Make sure you point out to Kiddo how ocean waves are like light waves. Collect shells to compare and contrast and line up from biggest to smallest or sort by color and marking. Review architectural concepts while building a castle. Then add a weaving dam for a bit of geometry and fluid mechanics. But always wear sunscreen, or else you'll learn a lesson in the physiology of UV damage that nobody really wants.

– Alina Adams