Who says summer has to be a time of the “summer slide” or “brain drain” when learning goes by the wayside? There are lots of fun summer learning activities that can be enjoyed by children of all ages. Here are a few suggestions to get your older children’s creative juices flowing. Show them to your child(ren) and have them chime in with their own ideas!
1. Get cooking or baking. Most kids love to create in the kitchen. Have older children find recipes they like and practice their fractions and measurement skills (younger children can help choose a recipe and assist in the prep). You could even have dual recipes going a la “Cupcake Wars” or other similar cooking competition. And an extra benefit is always getting to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
2. Experiment with various science activities. There are lots of hands-on activities that can be done with simple household ingredients (baking soda and vinegar, anyone?). Visit Steve Spangler Science for a database of ideas.
3. Make something. Create an art piece, a bird feeder, or a scrapbook of summer adventures. Visit your local craft store or simply pull out various supplies that you have around the house (construction paper, yarn, paper clips, boxes, tape, etc.) and let imaginations run wild. Check out Maker Camp sponsored by Google for more sophisticated project ideas.
4. Take a hike or explore new natural areas in your community. Take time to explore what you see along the way, find the perfect hiking stick, or skip stones across a lake. Notice any wildlife or special flowers in the area? Children can research what they found upon returning home.
5. Plant a garden. Use containers or a small plot in your yard to plant some seeds and observe what happens. Have the children research what types of vegetables or flowers grow well in your regional area to choose what to plant. Observe as the plants grow, and hopefully enjoy some fresh produce down the road.
6. Do jigsaw puzzles. With long summer days ahead, have a large jigsaw puzzle available with a dedicated space as a go-to activity for a few minutes each day, or whatever length your child desires. This candy-wrapper version would be hard to resist, no?
7. Be a movie critic. Rent classic movies, find them on cable, or add them to your Netflix queue. After viewing, have a discussion about themes of the movie or compare and contrast to recent films they’ve seen.
8. Read and then read some more. Join your local library’s summer book club, or that of a local book store (Barnes & Noble has an annual program). Suggest a summer reading book club with friends. They can meet to discuss the book at someone’s home, perhaps over some baked treats they made beforehand.
9. Research family vacation destination and plan activities. Have children map out the distance from your home to your destination. Which direction will you be traveling? If you’re driving, how many times do you expect to stop for gas? What activities are available in the city you’re visiting and which would look appealing? Create an itinerary based on attraction opening and closing times.
10. Learn to code. Having lots of time during summer provides the perfect time to learn to program. Use Scratch, a brilliant (and free!) program created through MIT, or other online resources, such as Code.org or Codecademy to get started. And while it’s screen time, there will be lots of problem solving involved and some new skills developed, to boot.
In what summer learning activities will your children be participating? Please share ideas in the comments below.