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Knock your Socks off with these 30 Engaging Summer Activities

Summer is here! As a homeschool mom, I am ready for the break, and yes, we take the summer off. We don't school year 'round, thought I know many families do. And honestly, year-round homeschooling has it's benefits!

I personally need the break, maybe more than the kids do. However, as a former teacher, who spent the first nine weeks of every school year trying to catch my students up with everything they lost over break, I know the importance of keeping up with skills over the summer to prevent the summer slide, as it’s called.

What Is the Summer Slide?

Summer slide is the amount of academic skills a student loses over the summer while not actively learning. When students are not in school, they can lose an average of two and a half months of math skills and two months of reading knowledge during their summer break. This increases over time, and by junior high, it can equal as much as two years of learning that has been lost. That’s a lot!

Many students spend a large amount of their summer inside the house watching television or on electronic devices. It’s hard to keep them actively involved in learning and even more challenging to come up with creative ideas that they’ll want to do. So what can you do?

How to Prevent the Summer Slide?

There’s really no mystery to preventing the loss of academics over the summer. The best form of prevention is to continue learning throughout the summer. The trick, however, is to make it so fun your kids won’t realize they are learning. Don’t worry! Instead of spending hours searching the internet for fun summer activities, I’ve got you covered with lots of great ideas your kids are going to love.

Provide Extended Learning Opportunities

Extended learning opportunities are the key to helping your child continue to learn over the summer. These are intentional experiences or activities you can set up to increase the amount of time they spend learning and reduce the summer slide that can happen.

If given the option, many children aren’t going to go out looking for ways to learn while on summer break. You have to be proactive and plan out the activities. I think the best way to do this is to print out a calendar and then choose from the suggestions I have listed below.

Write on your calendar one or two activities you’d like to do each week. Also, list the materials you may need for them so you will know in advance and can have them ready. That way you won’t be scrambling around looking for things at the last minute or give up altogether.

Having ideas marked on the calendar is going to make you much more likely to do them. You won’t have to be on the computer for hours searching for fun things to do with kids at home. Just look at your calendar a few days or even the week before and gather any materials you may need. When the day comes, you will be ready to have fun with your kids!

I have divided the list into categories to make it easier for you to cover a variety of subjects over the summer months.

Language Arts Activities

Reading

Many kids won’t always go off and read on their own without some sort of motivation. I have gathered some ways you can entice them to continue reading throughout the summer.

1. Reading Bingo Challenge

This is a fun way, especially for your younger readers, to want to read each day. You can get a free printable reading bingo card  from The Chirping Moms and see how they use it with a reward system to get their kids excited about reading.

2. Read the Book and Then See the Movie

Most of our children love to watch movies. You can use this to your advantage and find several books that were turned into movies. Encourage your child to read the book first, and then reward him with a movie night along with his favorite snacks to watch it. Check out this list of books that have been turned into movies.

3. Summer Reading Programs

Sign your child up for a summer reading program. There are several we’ve been involved with over the years that have really inspired my girls to read over the summer. You can always create your own summer reading program with a tracking system and a fun prize once your kiddos have completed it! 

Grammar

4. Have Family Mad Libs Nights

Have you done these before? I remember doing these in school, and they are so much fun and an easy way to practice grammar! My family gets a kick out of them. You can buy the tablets online, and they come in so many different topics you are sure to find one your child is interested in.

Mad libs are short stories with the different parts of speech left blank. Underneath each blank, it tells you the part of speech that is missing from the sentence (Ex. noun, action verb, adjective, etc.). Each child or family member can take a turn giving an answer for a missing word while someone is the secretary filling in the blanks. This makes sure only the person writing can see what the story is about.

When you are done, read the story and be prepared to laugh!. These are fun to do in the car on long rides. These can also be done independently for just as much fun. To do that, the child shouldn’t read the story first. Just fill in all the blanks.

5. Make Lists

Making lists is fun for a lot of kids. If you buy a special notebook for them to keep their lists in, that makes it meaningful. They can practice grammar skills like capitalizing proper nouns and writing out titles. Have them make a list of their “favorites.” Here are some ideas:

  • Places to visit
  • Games to play
  • Foods
  • Desserts
  • Books
  • Movies

Let them come up with their own ideas for lists as well.

Writing

6. Keep a Summer Journal

A fun way to keep memories from the summer is for your children to keep a journal of everything they do. Girls especially like to do this. This is a fantastic way to keep those writing skills fresh. They can draw pictures as well.

If you purchase a cute journal and some fun pens or colored pencils, this can become a keepsake.

If you have a child that is more into documenting things on a computer and loves to take pictures, you may want to consider letting him create his own blog. It’s free and easy to get started!

7. Pen Pals

Having a pen pal is a great way to work on writing skills. It’s also a lot of fun if you get an international one and can learn about their country and culture, throwing in some geography and social studies.

Science Activities

8. Homemade Bubbles

Who doesn’t like to blow bubbles? This is such a fun summertime activity and why not sneak in a little science while doing it. Let your kids learn how to make their own bubble solution by experimenting with different recipes.
Homemade Bubble Solution Recipe

9. Bubble Projects with Science Experiments

Once you have a bubble recipe your kids like, try out some of these projects with them. Each of these includes the science behind the magic. There is also a worksheet that gives ideas for different objects that can be used as a bubble wand.

10. Mentos Geysers

This is a really cool experiment your kids are sure to love! It makes quite an eruption that will get their attention and open up a discussion about how it happened. ‘

Warning: This explosion happens really fast, so make sure whoever is adding the mentos does it quickly and runs away fast! As you can see from the picture, my daughter almost didn’t make it away in time!

11. Homemade Compost Pile

Composting the trash your family throws away is a great way to learn about recycling. Your children can learn how to make a compost bin and then it can be used as fertilizer for a garden. This is really interesting to watch.

12. Gardening

  • After you have learned how to create a compost bin, you need to have a garden or at least a few plants to use it with. I have found a great site that covers a plethora of ideas about gardening for kids. There is a lot to learn on this site, and it has all the basics and more to get started with your own garden.

13. Nature Scavenger Hunt

Kids love scavenger hunts, so why not hit the great outdoors and get them learning about nature. I have created two nature scavenger hunts you can print and use. One has pictures for your younger children who may not be reading yet, and one with a list and points to total up. Be sure to download them at the bottom of the page!

14. Edible Chemistry

Chemistry can be a complex subject in school, but you can use some simple recipes to introduce or review some of the concepts with your child and make them easier to understand.

15. Rainbow Science Projects

Everyone is always amazed when a rainbow appears in the sky. Help your kids to make a prism to understand how it happens and then make their own rainbow. 

16. Make Elephant Toothpaste

This is a pretty cool experiment your kids are going to love and will want to play with for quite a while after because it’s a great sensory project as well. It’s called elephant toothpaste because it makes an enormous foam that looks like toothpaste an elephant would use.

17. Walking Water Science Experiment

If you are looking for a neat experiment that even your teens will like, this is it! Watch colored water walk from one cup to another and amaze your kids.

18. Backyard Weather Station

Weather is a fascinating topic with lots to learn. You can help your child set up a weather station to monitor and learn about it. I have found some videos that give step-by-step directions to show how to build the equipment themselves.

Math Activities

19. Lemonade Stand

What kid doesn’t want to set up a lemonade stand and make some money over the summer? My girls ask every year! It’s really a great way to teach them about running a business and practice some math as well. Set up a lemonade stand in your driveway or neighborhood and watch your children become little entrepreneurs. I have instructions for a DIY lemonade stand below.

20. Construction Projects

If your child loves to build, here are the directions for a DIY lemonade stand if you want to teach some building skills along with math. This is a wonderful project to do together! Not only that, they will use this for hours of pretend play long after the lemonade business is closed.

Here are some other woodworking projects you can do with your child to sneak in some math. Some of these would make great gifts at Christmas!

And here are 40 of the best woodworking projects for kids! There’s something in there for all levels. Very cool!

21. Go Shopping

Teens love to shop! This is a perfect way to incorporate some math into an activity they will get excited about. Find a sale that is going on and head to the mall. Perhaps give your child a budget to shop with and stick to. While shopping, your child will have to figure out things such as:

  • The percentage off
  • How much money can be saved with the sale price
  • Calculating the subtotal
  • Determining the tax
  • Calculating the final total
  • If they have enough money or need to choose something else
  • How much change they should get back

You’ll be surprised to see how interested they are in this subject when they can purchase something they want.

22. Sewing

My girls love to sew, and we have been working on making a rag quilt we will finish up this summer. Even children as young as eight can learn to sew. There are a lot of math skills involved in sewing, and if you find a project they want to make, they will be eager to do it. Check out 10 Best Sewing Projects for Kids.

23. Eating Out

Eating out is a treat for the whole family, and you can use it to teach a little math as well. Bring along a tablet and pencil, and as the family is looking over the menu, have your child list the prices for the meals everyone is going to order. While waiting for dinner to arrive, have him total everything up and then figure out the tax (if applicable in your state). After he gets a total, teach him about leaving a tip and using percentages to figure it out. You could teach calculator skills also. By the end of the meal, your child will have practiced some useful math skills and had fun in the process!

24. Cooking & Baking

Cooking is an excellent way to use math. You can teach basic math, fractions, measurement, and geometry. Have some fun baking chocolate chip cookies that everyone will enjoy while practicing those skills!

25. Develop your Mixologist Skills! 

Who doesn’t love a perfectly blended smoothie?  Create a list of fun drinks to perfect this summer including smoothies and slushies that included summer time fruits and veggies. It’s a great way to way to introduce healthy eating and nutrition and you could even add in some color theory as you blend bright summer fruits and berries into a healthy, nutritious snack everyone will love! 

Geography

26. Geocaching

Geocaching has become very popular. You can find sites almost anywhere now. This is one of the best free summer activities! Everyone in the family will enjoy doing it.

Using a GPS or an app on your smartphone, you can track and find hidden caches in your area. The caches are usually small containers that are hidden somewhere that blends in with its surroundings. The box usually has a log to sign and sometimes a little trinket as a reward. Be sure to read the link above to find out the rules.

27. Take Virtual Field Trips

While it’s not always feasible to take your children on field trips, technology allows us to go places we never thought we could. Virtual museum tours are the next best thing, and more affordable.

It’s amazing to think you can sit at the kitchen table and walk through The National Archaeological Museum in Athens, Greece or The Louvre in Paris, France.

You never know how these virtual tours could inspire your children to dig deeper into a topic or give them a desire to visit in real life some day. Virtual experiences will not only teach kids geography, history, science, and art, but also give them important background knowledge which increases their vocabulary and reading comprehension.

28. Make a bucket list of places you’d love to travel to in person! Organize your list by National Parks, States, or countries! Discuss the differences between in state and international travel, and maybe even help your kids get their Passports!

29. Add some local and regional historical reenactments to your summer schedule. Doing research and reading ahead of time about the actual events begin reenacted creates a robust learning environment and brings history to life! 

30. Visit local and regional museums and historical places of interest. There’s an ancient Indian Village near us that is considered to be a couple of thousands of years old! We were intrigued to discover that their trade routes were literally hundreds of miles long following the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers! 

Conclusion

Keeping your children engaged over their break doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. With a little planning on your part, you can set up some summer fun for each week.

I have given you quite a lot of ideas to choose from, and there are sure to be summer activities that will interest your children. Most of these ideas cover more than one subject, so you are killing two birds with one stone.

By keeping your kids mentally engaged in learning during their break, you are helping them to avoid the summer slide that many kids experience. Not only are your kids going to benefit when school starts again, but you are making some great memories that will last for years.

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Lisa Nehring
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