Make summer learning activities fun with the help of these teacher-tested ideas below! They’re a great way to get kids excited about learning during the summer months and cover everything from math to language arts. The best part? Most of them are inexpensive and easy to do! Give them a try!
Summer Learning Activities for Kids
Olympics Based Ideas
If your school is in session during an Olympics year, try these activities from Sara, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Raytown, MO. “Our school will be in session during the Olympics so I’ll be incorporating a unit on the games into our curriculum,” she said. “My school features students from at least 16 different countries, so those countries will serve as the basis for our study. Here are some of the Olympic-inspired, cross-curricular activities my students will participate in:
Reading: We’ll read about the participating countries as well as about the history and nature of the various games the athletes will engage in. The students will then develop reports highlighting information they uncovered in their research.
Math: We’ll create bar graphs that illustrate and compare the number of medals each country wins in each category.
Social Studies/Geography: We’ll compare and contrast aspects of our government to that of the other countries. We’ll also replicate maps of those countries.
Science: We’ll examine weather patterns of each represented country and discuss how these patterns may affect the athletes’ various event-training schedules.
As a final project, students will display their reports, graphs, and hypotheses in a “Parade of Nations” for the whole school to enjoy. We will conclude our games with a medal ceremony designed to recognize students’ hard work.
Summer Activity Packet
Tam, a Kindergarten Teacher, from Clovis, NM creates summer learning packets for her students. “To help my students maintain their skills over summer when school is not in session, I present each one with a fun summer activity pack. The pack includes games, a journal for daily journal writing and a writing folder that includes a topic list as well as reminder of the simple mechanics rules we learned, such as capitalization, etc. I also include lots of activities to help them practice the concepts we learned in kindergarten as well as a summer calendar on which I’ve jotted a daily activity my children can do to keep skills strong all summer long.”
Books for Keeps
“To encourage summer reading, I purchase an inexpensive chapter book for each child to take home and keep,” shared Ruth, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Brandon, FL. “I purchase these books from the dollar store. You can also check out the discount bins at bookstores as well as summer yard sales. These purchases mean a lot to students and their families who would otherwise not be able to purchase books of their own.”
Start a Series
“Each spring, I choose a popular book series to introduce to my children,” said Marcella, a 2nd Grade Teacher, from Richmond, CA. “In the past, I have chosen books from The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Children of the Red King series and The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy Tale Detectives series. I read aloud two or three books from the chosen series and tell my students that if they want to find out what happens next they can borrow the books from the library (or purchase the books from the bookstore) and read the next installment(s) over the summer. This has gotten many students hooked on reading a particular series. In addition, students often return to visit me in September for a “chat and chew” about the stories they enjoyed.”
Trading In Old Books
“This year we are hosting a summer used-book exchange,” shared Maja Terre, a Kindergarten Teacher, in Terre Haute, IN. “We are asking all of the kindergarten students to bring in three gently used books that they will then be able to exchange for three “new” books. The exchange will allow each child to have three “new” books to enjoy over summer break.
Give Away the Class Library
“Each year I collect at least a hundred or books to add to my classroom library,” said Cynthia, a 6th-8th Grade Middle School Teacher, from Bozeman, MT. “At the end of the year, I invite students to choose and keep one or books from our library. It has never cleaned me out and, since I purchase many books for $.25 or less from the thrift store, it’s well worth it.”
Make Use of the Summer Reading Program
“Our local library has a great summer reading program,” said Amanda, a Kindergarten Teacher, from Alliance, OH. “When children complete the required reading list, they have the opportunity to post their name on a poster. During the summer months, I visit the library weekly, check out the poster and send students who completed the program a postcard congratulating them on their accomplishment.”
“At the end of the year, we have students interact with a multitude of center activities and file folder games,” explained Katie, a 1st Grade Teacher, from Chalmette, LA. “I then assign students the task of each creating a new math game over the summer. In the fall, students who completed the assignment are then allowed time to teach their game to incoming students. This gets kids thinking about math over the summer and allows them to act as “teachers” come fall.”
“Each year, I provide students with my address and ask them to write me letters,” shared Farrah, a Kindergarten Teacher, in Nanuet, NY. “As a result, I usually end up with 10-15 pen pals over the summer. The mail encourages students to practice their reading and writing and I get to learn about their fun summer adventures.”
Help retain learning with this idea by Jennifer, a Kindergarten Teacher, from Jacksonville, FL. “Index cards and metal rings can make all the difference in your students’ ability to remember what they learned all summer long. Use white index cards to record a set of sight word cards featuring the words each student has mastered. (The words may vary from student to student, and may include nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc.). In addition, use colored index cards to record words students will need as they enter the next reading level or grade. Punch a hole in the upper left-hand corner of each card and secure each set of cards with a metal loose-leaf ring; offer sets to students as a way for them to practice words when at home or traveling. (Tip: Suggest to parents that students can illustrate the back of each card as a self-checking mechanism. Also, try this card method to review math concepts, science facts, etc.).”
Give Them a Taste of Next Year
“To prepare my students to progress to the next grade, I provide them with a sample of learning activities they will experience in the upcoming year,” shared Mary, a 3rd Grade Teacher, from Minooka, IL. “For example, I read some literature, share math problems, and begin exploring a few science activities the children can expect to encounter in the next grade.
As my students immerse themselves in these experiences, they become eager to move to the next grade level. To make certain they are as prepared as possible, I distribute packets of math problems for students to work on over the summer as well as a summer reading list. I offer a small prize to any child who returns to school in the fall with a completed math packet signed by a parent.”
Meet Next Year’s Class
Transitioning from one grade to the next can be difficult for some students. In Fort Collins, Colorado, prospective 2nd Grade students are given a helping hand with the transition by their future 2nd grade teachers. Kim, a 2nd Grade Teacher in Fort Collins, Colorado, shares with us what she and her fellow teachers do to build relationships with next year’s class.
“At the end of the school year, we 2nd Grade teachers meet with our prospective 1st Grade students. We do this in part to encourage the children to read books over the summer. To this end, we supply each child with a colorful reading record for recording book titles they read over the summer (at least eight). The record has room for the parents’ signatures as well as space for a short comment about the book. Over the summer, we mail reminder postcards informing students that those who return the records during the first two weeks of school are invited to join our annual pizza party. (This generous timing allows us to work with students who may not have the support they need at home to read independently.) Of course, in the end, every student participates in reading and in the pizza! This reading record idea is useful any time there is a holiday or break in the school year—or whenever teachers want to make sure their students are staying on top of their reading.”
Start a Summer Book Club
“To encourage students to read over the summer, I help them begin to plan a summer book club,” explained Cara Grebner, a 6th Grade Teacher, in Lincoln University, PA. “Whether students choose a title from a required book list, or they agree on a title of their own choosing, I recommend helping students set a date by which they should have the book read, as well as a place and time for them to meet. (You can enlist parents’ help with this.)
Students love to discuss a book by summarizing, asking questions, making connections, etc. If a book is also a movie, suggest they pick a date to watch the movie, then compare and contrast the book to the movie. Another idea is to encourage individual students to find a book buddy to read along with. Either way, come fall, encourage children to report back to you about how it all went.”
What do you do to help your students stay excited about learning over the summer? Share with us below!