Activity Ideas for Summer Learning, Ages 6 – 10

Make this summer a time of playful learning and hands-on experiences. I love what I can do with my kids over the summer to encourage learning. Did you know that most kids regress two months in math and one or two months in reading? (Cooper, 1996) Yikes!

We keep a summer schedule that includes learning activities, art, outside time, play, reading, friend time, room time, music, and choice time. (If you have younger kids, go to Summer Learning Activities & Ideas for ages 3 – 6.)

I. Schedule Your Days

Here’s an example schedule. I found a nice looking dry erase board at Hobby Lobby. I will rotate the schedule with inside play, friend time, room time, and music practice. (That’s why I love dry erase — makes changes easy!)

II. Get Organized

If you have more than one child,  it’s helpful to organize materials in separate containers. I found these brightly colored picnic baskets at Target last week. Aren’t they are perfect?

III. Gather Your Learning Activities (Option is Essential)

Intentional, Thematic Pretend Play
Pretend play requires much more than imagination. Children, even in elementary, need to pretend play. It builds cognitive flexibility, increases self-control, improves vocabulary, strengthens resiliency, and encourages problem solving. (Among other things.) Sometimes all you need to give your kids is an idea, a few props, and some background information about the topic. Here are lots of pretend play ideas on Imagination Soupgreat ideas on Childhood 101, and  25 easy ideas from No Time for Flashcards. My kids LOVE playing Harry Potter. What about yours?

Nature Activities
Of course, the best classroom is right outside. Have you seen all the research about how beneficial nature’s green is to our brains? Use nature to explore as much as you can in all areas –  math, science, reading, and writing. Playful Learning has ten fantastic book suggestionsmy Outside Play and Learn Pinterest board has a gazillion ideas, and Mommy Labs shares 50+ ideas for nature exploration.

Games
I give my kids choices about their learning time since we know that the more a child can direct her learning, the more it “sticks” in her brain. So, I have two special bins just for learning games. Top bin is math; bottom is literacy. Choose any game is a learning activity choice.

Books
Of course summer days are made for reading. Give your kids lots of ways to find good books – trips to the library, the bookstore, yard sales, and remember to let the choose their own books. Help them pick a “just right” book with the five finger test. Talk about how you make your book selections. Read in front of them – they’re watching you and you can show them what a reading life looks like.
RIF’s Monthly Reading Activity Calendars 
Start With a Book  (24 kid-friendly themes featuring specific ideas for using books and related downloadable activities.)

Workbooks
Not all workbooks are bad, just remember to use workbooks sparingly; they do not take the place of modeling or hands-on learning.
Singapore Math
Brain Quest

iPad Apps 
The folks at Brain Quest contacted me after seeing my last two iPad posts to tell me that they have a free gaming app for grades 1-5, featuring 600 questions on 28 levels for each grade. I haven’t tried it yet but it looks great — and free is good!
P.S. Don’t forget to set screen time limits!
Reading and Writing iPad Apps.
Science and Math iPad Apps.

Tomorrow, watch for summer activity ideas for the 5 and under crowd.

What do you plan to do for your summer learning choices?

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  • http://www.schoolsparks.com/kindergarten-worksheets School Sparks Renee

    Great ideas for organizing the summer and keeping your kids from the “summer brain slide” as I call it. I love that you have Reading in the wake-up section of the day – what a nice (and quiet!) way to start the day. Thanks for sharing this, Renee

  • http://www.staceyloscalzo.com Stacey

    Love all these ideas. I’m especially excited to check out the Singapore Math products. I’ve been hearing great things about this program lately. Our school district recently adopted another program over Singapore and an interesting debate is brewing…

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      I am such a HUGE fan of Singapore Math now that we’ve done it for a year — it’s really helped my kids catch back up after suffering in Everyday Math. Now they’re understanding why – which is key. What program did your district adopt?

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  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    Love these ideas! Thank you!

  • http://www.kidnplayja.com Renee

    Love these ideas for summer learning, especially the schedule. I always fight the “Summer slide” with workbooks for the next grade, a vacation writing journal and my son loves to read, so reading is always involved. I struggle with allowing him to relax during the summer while still doing some school work. Love that the schedule includes playtime and nature time. Thanks!

  • http://www.mommy-labs.com Rashmie @ Mommy Labs

    Very useful ideas, as always. I’m going to check out the Singapore Math books.
    Like, how you organized in those colourful picnic baskets. Makes learning look fun and play :-)

    Thank you for the link-love, Melissa!

  • http://mamasmiles.com maryanne @ mama smiles

    I love those colorful picnic baskets for their summer learning materials!

    Thanks for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

  • http://none kelly

    I am looking ALL over for that picnic basket, but having no luck! Not online at Target :( Can you provide the name?

    Thanks. Can’t wait to implement these ideas!

  • http://www.jugglingwithkids.com Juggling With Kids

    This is such a great idea! I love it! How fun this would be for any kid. We featured this on our Weekly Play Date. Thanks for your inspiration! http://www.jugglingwithkids.com/2012/06/weekly-kids-co-op-come-and-play-7.html

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  • http://duplgeg.com/ Helen Terims

    Great ideas.. I will get some points here for my kids summer learning. These are perfect learning activities for my kids. For sure my kids will have a lot of fun and learning to acquire using these ideas.

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  • Julia’s Bookbag

    I LOVE THIS! I told my daughter that I was going to be setting up a loose sort of schedule and she looked I had sentenced her to a dungeon. I was trying to convey that it would be fun! And we’re going to do a pick fun stuff out of a jar too :). I’ve got find out more about Singapore Math. I saw some examples of it online once and I am terrible at math, always have been, and I thought, Wow, if I had learned math this way, I would have gotten it, I think. It totally made sense to me. And math never makes sense to me!

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