ACTIVITIES & LESSONS
What a unique school year it's been! We applaud teachers, parents, and students for continuing the hard work of learning despite such a major disruption with school closures. As summer approaches, you may be thinking about new ways for kids to stay engaged and keep learning.
Summer Education Ideas for Kids
Learning doesn't have to stop just because it's summer break! We've compiled a collection of fun summer learning activities for elementary and middle school students that can be done at home. These activities span writing, reading, math, and more subjects.
1. Plan a Dream Vacation
Students may not be able to travel at the moment because of the ongoing pandemic, but if they could go anywhere in the world, which destination would they choose? Ask them to imagine that they have $5,000 to spend on their dream vacation. Then have them use the internet, guide books, travel brochures, and maps to plan out a week-long itinerary. They can follow these steps:
- Choose a destination.
- Decide how many family members will take the trip.
- Calculate round trip costs for airfare or car rental on sites such as expedia.com.
- Research the attractions you will want to explore along with admission costs and travel to and from. Be sure to check the days and hours of operation.
- Create an itinerary for each day of the seven-day trip. Include time for travel to attractions and meal breaks.
- Add up the costs. Did you stay within budget? If not, how can you change the itinerary to bring costs down?
2. Fun Summer Sketching
What kind of fun will kids get up to this summer? Ask them to draw themselves doing a favorite warm-weather activity. Available for download, our Summer Drawing Activity worksheet is a fun learning activity for elementary students in younger grades. Take this activity a step further for older students. Have them take on the traditional "What I Did on Summer Vacation" writing prompt but tell the story using illustrations only.
3. Summer Reads
Here are some choice reads that celebrate summer, taking kids on beach trips and bike rides and to the baseball field. Add them to your students' summer reading list. We even included a hands-on activity book that will provide hours of science fun using a few common household items and a whole lot of creativity.
- Curious George Goes to the Beach by H.A. Rey (Pre-K–Kindergarten)
- Swashby and the Sea by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal (Pre-K–3)
- Hot Day on Abbott Avenue by Karen English and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe (Pre-K–3)
- Flotsam by David Wiesner (Pre-K–3)
- Two Whats?! and a Wow! Think & Tinker Playbook by Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz (Grades 3–7)
- The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles and illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Grades 3–7)
- Camp by Kayla Miller (Grades 3–7)
- Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park (Grades 3–7)
- Baseball in April and Other Stories by Gary Soto (Grades 3–7)
- Harris and Me by Gary Paulsen (Grades 5–7)
4. Ready, Set, Invent!
New products are often inspired by problems in need of solutions. This summer project for middle school students challenges them to come up with an invention that solves a summer-related problem. The invention could be completely new or improve an existing product. They might start by brainstorming a list of summer annoyances. Mosquito bites are pretty annoying. Maybe bug-repellant clothing will do the trick. Summer can be fun-filled, but there are always some boring days, too. A new game could liven things up. Once students have their idea for an invention, ask them to create a prototype for it, along with a short description of how the invention works and the materials needed to build it.
5. Crossword Challenge
Challenge students to complete our Summer Fun Crossword Puzzle. To extend the activity, have them place the words in different categories, such as "Places to Go," "Things to Eat," "Weather Words," and "Things You Might See at the Beach." Then they can brainstorm a list of other summer words to add to each category.
6. A Bright Idea
The Sun is by far the brightest object in Earth's sky. On the magnitude scale that astronomers use to measure brightness, the brighter an object appears, the lower its magnitude. Some of the brightest objects in the sky have a negative apparent magnitude. Ask students to research online the brightness of different objects in the sky and list in order from dimmest to brightest these objects in Earth's sky: Sun, moon, stars, and Venus. Then have them research the apparent magnitudes, or measures of brightness, of each object. How much brighter is the Sun than the other objects? Encourage students to research other questions this activity might bring up, such as why sunny days hurt our eyes, or how much closer we are to the Sun than other stars in the sky.
What kind of tree fits in your hand? Challenge students to unscramble the summer-related words to get the punch line. Download our Summer Fun Word Scramble here. To extend the activity, have students write a silly story using every word in the jumble. Students can also continue the wordplay by creating their own word jumble with a different theme for a friend to solve. They might choose a theme around summer destinations like the beach or an amusement park, or look ahead to the fall with a back-to-school theme.
8. Summer Sports
Many sports across the world take place during the summer, when it's warm outside. Challenge students to identify a sport typically played during the summer that they have never heard about before. One place to start might be the list of the sports that have been played over the history of the Summer Olympic Games. Here are some ideas for questions that they can research and write about:
- When was the sport first introduced?
- Where in the world is the sport most commonly played?
- Who holds the world records for best performance in the sport, and what are those records?
- What interesting and unusual videos can you find about the sport? What makes the videos interesting or unusual?
Learn more about our easy-to-implement summer school programs. Visit the HMH summer school site.
Zoe Del Mar