15 Fun Summer School Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students

7 Min Read
Summer learning activities for elementary and middle school students

Learning doesn't have to stop just because it's summer break! We've compiled fun summer learning activities for elementary and middle school students that can be done in and out of school. The activities span writing, reading, math, and more subjects.

Summer Learning Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students

1. Ready, Set, Invent! (Grades 2—8)

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.

2. Wordplay (Grades 4—8)

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.

3. Fun with Sidewalk Chalk (Grades K—8)

Tell students they can make their own sidewalk chalk with just three ingredients. Provide them with the recipe below. You can also share this resource on the science of chalk with parents, caregivers, and older students.

Encourage students to use the chalk to play games like hopscotch or tic-tac-toe with a friend. They might also use the sidewalk as their canvas for cheerful pictures and messages to bring joy to neighbors and passersby. Note that making the chalk requires waiting 24 hours or longer for the mixture to dry, so plan accordingly.

What You'll Need:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • Food coloring
  • Egg carton
  • Wax paper
  • Small plastic cups
  • Bowl

What to Do:

Step 1: Mix the cornstarch and water in a bowl.

Step 2: Separate the mixture into small plastic cups.

Step 3: Add a drop of a different food coloring to each cup, then stir. Try mixing the different food colorings to create surprising hues!

Step 4: Pour each chalk mixture into one section of the egg carton.

Step 5: Cover the chalk mixtures with wax paper.

Step 6: Let the chalk dry for 24 hours or longer.

4. Five Senses Scavenger Hunt (Grades K—8)

Encourage younger students to go on an outdoor scavenger hunt with a parent or caregiver. This also makes a great summer school idea. Students can make a list of things that they hear, see, smell, taste, and touch. They can keep track of their findings on this Sense Chart. Depending on where students go, they may not come across anything that they can taste, but they can think about what animals and insects might eat and imagine what those things taste like. Also discuss with students that certain plants and animals shouldn’t be touched.

Older students can use the same Sense Chart to record their findings, but provide them with a more challenging search list, like the one below. For some background on the science of the human senses, provide parents, caregivers, and older students with this article on how our sensing organs and our brain work to help us perceive the world around us.


Listen for a:


Find something:


Sniff out something:


Find something that:


Find something:

Loud sound



Squirrels eat


Soft sound



Insects eat


Buzzing sound



Birds eat


Bird song

With a pattern


Humans eat


5. Summer Reads (Grades Pre-K—8)

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

6. Crossword Challenge (Grades 4–8)

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.

7. Take a Field Trip (Grades K–8)

Put together a list of free local programs for students to continue their learning throughout the summer. Libraries, museums, and parks often provide free programs for families year-round. You can simply print program calendars from their websites. Consider enlisting older students to write emails to local museums with paid admission requesting free passes for students. Add to the list these free virtual field trips that will take students on explorations of the sea, a Finnish forest, Mars, and more.

8. Start a Business (Grades 3–8)

Brainstorm with students a list of businesses that they can start over the summer. Students should consider their skills and interests before starting a business. After all, if they enjoy what they're doing, they'll be more likely to have fun and stick with it. Provide each student with a T-Chart. Have them label the left side "Skills" or "Interests" and the right side "Businesses." A student who is good with animals might start a pet sitting or dog walking business. A student who is adept with technology, a master of organization, or a pro at painting might offer their services to neighbors. Challenge older students to name their business, create a logo, and design a flyer complete with pricing. Remind students that they will need permission from parents and caregivers before starting a summer business.

9. Volunteer in Your Community (Grades Pre-K–8)

Encourage students and their families to give back to their community by volunteering for a cause that's important to them. Here are some ideas:

  • Send letters and cards to local nursing homes and assisted living centers or participate in a national campaign, such as Love for the Elderly.
  • Collect canned goods from neighbors and donate them to a local soup kitchen or food pantry. Check the website for a list of acceptable items.
  • Set a timer for five minutes. Every member of the family has to return with five items (clothes, toys, books) to donate.
  • Gather family and friends and together pick up litter in a park or at the beach.

10. Plan a Dream Vacation (Grades 4–8)

Ask students: If you could go anywhere in the world, which destination would you choose? 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.
  • Calculate costs for airfare and hotel.
  • 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.

11. A Bright Idea (Grades 4—8)

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 the brightness of the following objects in Earth's sky and list them in order from dimmest to brightest: sun, moon, stars, and Venus. Then have them research the apparent magnitudes, or measures of brightness, of each object. 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. Check out our blog on the importance of hands-on activities for another sun-related lesson.

12. Summer Sports (Grades 3–8)

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 sports that have been played over the history of the Summer 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?

13. Fun Summer Sketching (Grades Pre-K–8)

What kind of fun will kids get up to this summer? Ask them to draw themselves doing a favorite warm-weather activity. Our Summer Drawing worksheet will engage 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.

14. Write a Postcard (Grades K–8)

Here’s an activity that allows students to practice their writing skills over the summer. Provide students with a postcard that’s blank on both sides. Be sure it includes a stamp and is addressed to your school (get permission from your principal first). Ask students to describe what they’re doing over the summer and draw a picture that captures the activity on the other side. Those students who want to get a little more creative with the assignment could describe a dream summer vacation or a fictionalized family vacation gone wrong.

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15. Summer Science Experiments (Grades K–8)

Encourage students to try these summer science activities and experiments, no lab required! With assistance from an adult or older sibling, they can make their own bubble mixture, test out paper airplane designs, become nature spies, and so much more. Share the link to the blog with parents and caregivers or print out an activity or two for them.

More Summer School Class Ideas

Have any other fun summer school activities for elementary and middle school students? Share your favorites with us via email at or reach out on Instagram or Facebook.


Learn about our easy-to-implement summer school programs. Visit the HMH summer school site.

This blog, originally published in 2020, has been updated for 2024.

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