I see it every year with my third graders. They make so much progress all year long, and then summer hits. Three months off from school cause them to forget the skills they’ve spent the whole year learning. Use these 10 fun summer learning activities to beat the summer slide.
I know summer is supposed to be a time for relaxation and fun. School is over and the pool is open. Who wants to stay inside and learn? Fortunately, summer learning doesn’t have to mean sitting with a book for hours on end or completing pages of math problems. There are plenty of summer learning activities that will keep young minds thinking while they’re still having plenty of fun.
As a teacher, I can tell you that “summer slide” isn’t just a myth. Students leave school in June reading on grade level. When they return in late August, many of them slide backwards a level or two. The same is true in math. Concepts they learned the previous year have been completely forgotten.
With just 15-30 minutes of brain-boosting activities each day, we can get rid of “summer slide” once and for all. Try these fun summer learning activities to keep your child from slipping backwards.
5 More Fun Summer Learning Activities
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#1 – Big Backyard Challenge
Our school theme this year was “Our Big Backyard”. We wanted our students to explore nature and spend more time outside, rather than in front of screens. My co-worker and I developed the Big Backyard Challenge.
We created a Bingo board for each quarter of the school year. We also made an extra one for summer. You can download it for free by clicking on the link above and use it to reinforce science, math, and reading concepts all summer long while playing Bingo. Our students loved it, and I’m sure your children will, too!
#2 – Plan a Picnic
Summer is the perfect time for a picnic! Have your children help you plan the menu, make a grocery list, and estimate how much the ingredients will cost. Just use your local grocery store’s weekly circular to find the prices. If your kids are really adventurous, challenge them to use coupons to save some money on the ingredients. Maybe they can use the extra money to buy something special for dessert.
Once your picnic is planned, all you have to do is find the perfect spot outside to enjoy it. Your kids will have so much fun, since they were involved in the whole planning process.
#3 – Cooking and Learning in the Kitchen
My kids have always enjoyed helping me cook, and they can learn so much just by measuring ingredients and reading recipes. However, I wanted to take their learning one step farther. I developed math, reading, writing, science, and social studies activities to go with the kid-friendly recipes.
While the food is baking, my kids work on the fun activities. Each lesson includes a kid-friendly recipe and three learning activities for ages 3-12. Find out more, and download a free Cooking and Learning in the Kitchen lesson.
#4 – Play-Doh
If it’s a rainy day, Play-Doh can come to the rescue. It entertains my kids for hours! Plus, it can be great for learning activities. For younger children, you can practice colors, shapes, and numbers. Older children can use a Play-Doh tool to write words and math problems. Even using their creativity to build new things is a great learning experience.
#5 – Sidewalk Chalk
You may already have some of this laying around your house. My kids got a big box of it for Easter. Take the sidewalk chalk outside, and use it to practice many different skills. It’s amazing how much more willing your children will be to write with chalk outside than with pencils inside. Give your child sight words to spell or math facts to write.
#6 – Online Learning Activities
I know it’s summer, and we don’t want our kids in front of screens for long periods of time. However, there are so many great learning activities online! Kids absolutely love them, and they are learning while they are playing.
Here are my favorite online learning programs:
- Epic! Books – 25,000 books online
- Reading Eggspress – books and passages with comprehension questions
Check with your child’s teacher to see if the school pays for any subscriptions. Many of them still work over the summer. My son’s school subscribes to Reflex Math and Storia. He will have access to both of these programs over the summer, so we will use them to reinforce skills he’s learned this year. My daughter is in pre-K and loves the ABCya! website. It has activities for pre-K through 5th grade.
#7 – Car (or Airplane) Games
A lot of us travel over the summer. That traveling often involves long hours spent in the car or on an airplane. Use that time to play games with your children to keep them learning. My favorite travel game as a child was the ABC game. Choose a category, and see if you can think of a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet. For younger children, it will reinforce their ABC’s and letter sounds. Older children can expand their vocabulary by finding new words that start with each letter.
Another great car game is Bingo. Make Bingo cards before you leave with things you might see while you’re traveling. For younger children use pictures, and for older children write the words. See if they can get Bingo before you reach your destination.
My second grader even loves doing math facts in the car. He tries to see how quickly he can answer addition and subtraction facts. Memorizing basic facts will help children with math for all their years of school.
#8 – Nature Walk
Go on a nature walk around your neighborhood or a local park. Count how many animals you see. Use your senses to identify sounds and smells. Collect rocks, sticks, and other items along the way. When you get home, sort the items and compare them based on size or color. There are so many things to learn from nature.
#9 – The Library
The library doesn’t cost any money. Just get a library card, and you can check out new books all summer long. Allow your children to help choose the books. That will increase their motivation to read. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to select some books they can read on their own and some to read together. Even older children still enjoy having a parent read to them.
#10 – Bedtime Story Time
I know a lot of you probably already read with your children before bed. This is so valuable and will help them develop a love of reading. Even if you didn’t have time to do any of the other activities during the day, spend just 15 minutes at night before bed reading. Your children can choose the books. If they’re old enough, they can read to you. This special bonding time will be a great way to end your fun summer days!
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What Do You Think?
What are your favorite ways to beat the “summer slide”?
Let me know in the comments below.