Ideas and Activities for Summer Learning, Ages 3 – 6

If your kids are ages 3 to 6, you want to find easy ways to keep them engaged, playing, and learning throughout the summer. Don’t worry, I got you covered with some snazzy, new ideas and resources.
(Those of you with kids 6 – 10, you’ll want to read yesterday’s post about getting organized and finding fun activities for summer learning. Lots of ideas there, too.)

Pretend Play

Play is the way children learn. Playing teaches kids just about everything, especially if you make it purposeful.

Watch this video where I interact with kids first who only get a lump of play dough (not intentional) and second who get play dough and props -with the idea of pretending bakery (intentional). The second is much longer because it’s play with a purpose.

Give play a purpose and props, add in books to build background knowledge, and consider roles. Then you’ll see rich, long-lasting imaginative play!
Imagination Soup Pretend Play Ideas
Pinterest Pretend Play Ideas
Mama Smiles
Golden Gleam
Hands On As We Grow
Kids Activity Blog
 

Wonder Box

We tried the Once Upon a Time interactive play kit from Wonder Box and Education.com, a new product just in time for summer. Wonder Box emphasizes unplugged play and hands-on activities – we love that! The learning focus is on their website but includes letter recognition, number sense and fine motor skills. It’s $19.99/for the first box subscription. We opened the box to find lots of wonderful play ideas. Look at how fun it looks at first glance . . .

We got two sidekick projects for hands-on discovery – a two-sided cape to decorate and a puppet to create.

JJ is drawing a scary dragon on the white side of the cape – later we’ll iron it on to become permanent. (above) It turned out super!


Next, we get to make a puppet for our second project – can’t wait! (above)

We also got a Fun Pack with printed games, coloring pages, sticker books and other activities to explore the theme independently. Below is the Stone Soup story coloring book and crayons. 

Finally, we received a Stone Soup recipe to incorporate ‘taste’ into the theme.

Plus, each box comes with access to an exclusive web page with ideas and inspiration about month’s theme, too. I am really impressed with the play-based activities in Wonder Box — and if you can swing the price, I think you’ll have lots of learning fun!

Summer Survival Guide from Life as MOM.com

At 204 pages this eBook guide to summer fun is almost too enormous to summarize. Let me give you some of the highlights that you’ll find within it’s pages . . . 
    • Organization for the summer: checklists, forms.
    • Activities ideas (with directions) like printing your own passports, tie-dying shirts.
    • Un-Plan reminder – not to over plan summer.
    • Make an I’m Bored Box: lots of ideas here!
    • Food ideas: burrito kits, smoothie kits.
    • Reading ideas for you and your kids.
    • Friday family nights with tons of game and activity ideas and a printable scavenger hunt.
    • Summer Adventure Bags with themes like picnic, playtime, & beach.
    • Themes with books, movies, crafts, food, and field trips: Dinosaurs, mice, dogs, bugs and more.

2012 100 Days of Summertime by Jennifer Tankersley

I found another eBook daily guide for your summer with one page for each day. The ideas include planning, responsibility, parties, summer camps at home (with a Pinterest board,) recipes, camping, and travel, and LOTS more with ideas and checklists for each idea. The daily suggestions are brief but always link to further reading. I love that this book exists so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel with what to do during summer.

More Summer Learning Resources

Action Pack Magazine for Kids
Play Grow Learn eZine
Alphabet Summer from Erin at Small Types
The Babba Box
Virtual Book Club for Young Kids

Are these ideas helpful? What are you thinking you’ll do?

Go forth and playfully learn!

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Reflection and Goals Setting for Summer

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

    Thanks for this great resource. It looks like fun! Renee

  • http://www.smalltypes.com Erin

    Melissa, thanks so much for the mention! I LOVE your list! Very helpful tips for pretend play and so many new-to-me cool resources for summer learning!

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

    I’m so honored to be a part of this post! That Wonder Box looks fantastic!!!

  • http://intivarexped.com/ Jennifer Sollins

    These summer activities are perfect for kids. While playing, they can have learning as well. These summer activities can greatly develop a lot of skills to kids such as cognitive and psychomotor skills. These activities provide a lot of fun and entertainment to kids.

  • http://kindergartenbasics.blogspot.com/ Susan Case

    Great ideas and links. Looks like a lot of learning and playing at your house.

  • http://www.jsimens.com Julia

    I have just sent this link to all my friends with young kids. Summer is so hard if parents can’t think of fun things to do. I loved each and every thing to try!
    It is a honor to be part of this post. I love the list of pretend play!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      so true, thanks, Julia!

  • http://stenotypeinstitutrlando.com Sarina Jones

    These are perfect summer ideas. Kids will absolutely learn a lot when engaging to these learning activities. I might also use some of your ideas to my kids. Thanks for posting this information.

  • http://www.education.com/wonderbox Kat Eden

    Melissa thank you so much for including Wonder Box in your post. We’re looking forward to helping lots of moms and kiddos bust boredom this summer! Just wanted to let you and your readers know that we lowered the price of Wonder Box. It’s going to stay $19.99 per month. We start shipping our next box next week…get ‘em while they’re hot! Have a great summer Melissa and thanks again! Kat

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      great to know – I’ll make that change!

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  • Erin Wing

    Thanks for this awesome collection of ideas and for mentioning my Alphabet Summer! I’m linking right back to you in a post coming up this week. :)