During the summer months, many children experience summer learning loss, also known as summer slide. Students often lose up to two months of math skills and reading achievement while out of school. As a result, teachers spend an average of 4-8 weeks reviewing and reteaching forgotten material in the fall. Summer learning activities for kids keep young minds active and engaged, preventing this “summer brain drain.”
At the same time, you don’t want your child to spend his summer drilling math facts or dejectedly completing worksheets. Summer is also a time for relaxation, play, and family bonding.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of activities that make summer learning fun. These activities involve not only learning, but also creativity, play, and connection.
If you’re a teacher, school administrator or daycare supervisor, you may wish to distribute this list to parents. You’ll help your students continue learning over the summer, making the first weeks back to school more productive.
The Best Summer Learning Activities for Kids
Check out our six favorite summer learning activities for kids below.
1. Create a scrapbook of your summer adventures.
Take pictures and collect mementoes during summer outings, then help your child organize them into a scrapbook. If your child is old enough, he can write descriptions and stories chronicling your best family memories. If not, ask your child what he would like you to write down.
2. Make a natural history museum.
Go on nature walks with your children and collect items of interest: pine cones, rocks, leaves, shells, or other natural objects. Categorize and label the items.
If your child enjoys the activity and expresses curiosity, you can learn more about these items by researching online or checking out books from your local library.
3. Attend summer learning activities at your local library.
Speaking of local libraries, most plan fun summer learning activities for kids. Visit your local library or search online to see a schedule of events.
While you’re there, help your child select some books he’d like to read. Set aside time for reading each day. If your child is young, read with him. As you read, practice dialogic reading, asking your child questions about the story (what’s happening in a picture, how he would act in a character’s shoes, etc.). This is called dialogic reading because you and your child are having a conversation about the book. It “turbocharges” the development of literacy skills in children.
4. Design science experiments.
Encourage your child to ask questions about the world around him: How long will it take an ice cube to melt outside in the summer sun? Which items will float or sink in a bathtub?
Ask him to make predictions, then test your hypotheses using simple household items.
5. Build vocabulary with a word jar.
Write vocabulary words on slips of construction paper and place them in a jar. Each morning, have your child draw a word from the jar, then challenge him to define it. If he doesn’t know the word, help him look it up. Throughout the day, both you and your child should try to use the word in conversation.
6. Go on a shape scavenger hunt.
Give your child a list of shapes. Help him review the shapes by asking him to draw a picture of each one. Then, head outside to find these shapes “in the wild.” As your child finds each shape, have him draw a picture on his recording sheet. (Hey – want to do the hunt but not sure where to start? Click here to download a ready-to-go worksheet).
These are just a few examples of summer learning activities for kids. Anything that stimulates your child’s mind and activates his curiosity can help prevent a summer slump. Go outside, create, invent, read, explore, and play! Learning is sure to happen along the way.