Summer is almost here, and it’s time to get organized! For us, the key to a great summer is a little planning and a lot of time for spontaneous fun. Too much planning and summer feels as scheduled as the school year. (Noooo!) Too little planning and we’ve got a house full of whiny kids, and by August, I’m stressed that we haven’t done enough to make lasting memories or prevent the dreaded summer slide.
Here’s how we plan for summer:
- Brainstorm must-do local activities and put them on our summer calendar. We do them in alphabetical order, just for fun. (You can read all about our many past versions of Alphabet Summer on my old blog, Small Types, or purchase an organized version of my favorite Alphabet Summer resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)
- Set one or two learning goals with each kid. Besides daily reading, our goals are always some version of the following: Practice math facts. Write something interesting. Learn about something new. Get better at something that will make life easier next year. (Like learning to type faster or mastering the high-frequency spelling words.)
- Gather: Grab some applicable hands-on learning materials, games, notebooks and a few printables and put them in a basket for each kid so they’re easy to find.
I’ve also gathered a selection of cool and fun online learning resources for when we need a quick idea. Here are a few favorite sites for summer (or anytime) learning:
- We made a list of books to read aloud as a family this summer, and picked some “just-right” books for independent reading. (We keep some in book bags in the car, and store the rest inside in book boxes for each kid.) These book lists are great for finding summer reading ideas!
- Summer is a perfect time for audiobooks. We check them out from our local library or purchase titles through Audible. Kids can listen individually on their devices or we listen in the car on road trips or while driving around town.
- Articles and videos that relate to kids’ interests provide real-life opportunities to read for meaning and use technology for research. National Geographic Kids , Sports Illustrated Kids and YoungZine are a few great sites to explore.
- Sadlier-Oxford Phonics Student Online Components include a wide variety of basic phonics games organized by grade level.
- Storybird is a gorgeous site where kids can write and illustrate their own stories, and connect with other young writers.
- Find online games to practice all sorts of literacy skills with this big collection of interactive resources from Read, Write, Think.
- Watch, Know, Learn contains a huge selection of learning videos on a variety of subjects.
- For online games, we like Multiplication.com and GregTangMath.com.
- K-2 Math Apps is a great resource for finding apps to reinforce lots of different math skills. (Many are appropriate for older kids as well.)
- Our favorite math apps are Numbers League, Deep Sea Duel, and Montessori Math.
Science and DIY
- Steve Spangler videos always inspire some major scientific exploration at our house.
- We’re looking forward to exploring some really cool new skills with the help of DIY.org. With everything from archery to zoology covered, I wonder what my kids will pick!
- We’re getting ready to tinker! I love Rachelle Doorley’s book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-On Guide for Little Inventors.
- Thrive Art Online Classes. (We love these for an excellent stay-at-home art class experience!)
- The Art School series on Classic Play is full of simple and awesome project ideas.
- Zentangle is great doodling fun and because it’s so relaxing, it’s perfect when everyone needs some summer afternoon zen.
- And check out my Artsy board on Pinterest for more artsy fun.
- Reading Adventure Packs from Reading Rockets Free, thematic packets that correlate with great fiction and nonfiction picture books for grade levels K-3.
- Alphabet Summer Pack: A flexible collection of summer learning activities organized in an A to Z format.
- For summer, I like to keep portable activity cards and booklets on hand. Here are a few I’ve created…Learning Warm-Up Activity Cards, A-Z Literacy Activity Cards and A-Z Math Activity Cards, and Read and Write on the Road. All of them are small enough to fit in the glove box for on-the-go learning breaks or quick, accessible activities at home.
- Check out this great list of 70+ Free Educational Games from Pragmatic Mom.
- Visit my Learning Outdoors and I Love Summer Pinterest boards for more summer-friendly inspiration.
So, what’s on your family’s summer learning list?