Now that summer’s in full swing, one thing we start seeing is a loss of academic progress. However, the easiest way to avoid this is by keeping your child engaged in learning – whether that be reading, writing, or math. If you are worried about ruining the fun, have no fear. EdSurge reminds us learning can happen in nontraditional settings. So forget the flashcards, and keep reading to see some great ways to keep your child educated and entertained on these hot summer days.

Learning happens when we do things we have never done before and experience places we have never been. As summer ramps up, it’s the perfect time to encourage your students’ families to take a few minutes to collaborate with the children in their lives on a summer bucket list. The collaboration part is key. Having some autonomy and being engaged in the decisions make the experience richer and more meaningful for kids.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive and exotic list to make a difference. The list can be as ambitious as your time and budget allow, so if you want to (and can afford) travel, that’s great… but even a shared trip to the home improvement store to buy supplies for a broken doorknob has value. What’s most important is that the list is full of doable activities that you appeal to you both.

At a loss for where to begin? Let me see if I can get you started…

  • Explore the local park — swing on the swings, fly down the slide, do your best on the monkey bars
  • Borrow a field guide from the library and identify native plants, interesting bugs, and colorful birds
  • Learn to play Chess, checkers, or Dominos — all three are perfect for thinking more than one step ahead, and also give kids a chance to practice winning with grace (or losing that way too)
  • Pack a picnic lunch
  • Build a birdhouse
  • Go fishing
  • Dangle your feet in the water off the dock at a nearby lake
  • Bake cookies (or even stir together the no-bake kind)
  • Make real lemonade
  • Walk the dog
  • Invent something
  • Create sculptures from recycled materials
  • Dig out the Play-Doh
  • Write positive messages with sidewalk chalk
  • Volunteer at the local animal shelter
  • Wander through a museum
  • Hike a trail
  • If you live in the city, head out to the country for a day… and if you live in the country, take a day or two to visit to the city
  • Memorize a favorite poem
  • Play basketball
  • Host a baking competition and invite friends and neighbors
  • Fly a kite
  • Learn yoga
  • Make musical instruments out of recycled materials and strike up a band
  • Learn to shoot marbles
  • Put together a jigsaw puzzle (some libraries even loan them out)
  • Put on a puppet show with homemade sock puppets
  • Go to the drive-in theater (if you can still find one!)
  • Share an ice cream cone (or two)
  • Play tag (even more fun when the lightning bugs come out)
  • Visit a fire station
  • Dig out the jump ropes and work your way up to double Dutch
  • Pick berries at a local farm
  • Put together a scavenger hunt
  • Explore a local greenhouse
  • Have a water balloon battle
  • Go bowling
  • Plant a veggie garden, in a plot in the garden or even a window-ledge container
  • Play cards and learn a new game or two
  • Learn to juggle — a little hand-eye coordination is great, but even better is the sense of accomplishment!

Of course, add “read lots of books” to the list, but also consider listening to an audio book while you run errands in the car (or on an epic road trip), savoring a bit of silly poetry, or flipping through the pages of a nonfiction title or two.

Need some suggestions here too? As a librarian, I’m always happy to oblige.

Awesome audiobooks:

  • “Long Way Down” by Jason Reynolds (mature themes, strong language)
  • “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
  • “Unbound” Ann E. Burg
  • “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling
  • “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate
  • “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein
  • “Wishtree” by Katherine Applegate
  • “The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • “Esperanza Rising” by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  • “Wedgie & Gizmo” by Suzanne Selfors
  • “Clementine” by Sara Pennypacker

A sampling of silly (and not so silly) poetry and poets:

  • Anything by Shel Silverstein
  • Anything by Jack Prelutsky
  • “A Poke in the I” by Paul Janeczko
  • “The Blacker the Berry” by Joyce Carol Thomas
  • “Meet Danitra Brown” by Nikki Grimes
  • “Mirror, Mirror” by Marilyn Singer
  • “Color Me a Rhyme” by Jane Yolen

And a few recent nonfiction titles guaranteed to draw readers in:

  • “Speediest: 19 Very Fast Animals – Steve Jenkins
  • “The Way Things Work – David Macaulay
  • “Weird But True – National Geographic Society
  • “First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrants And Refugees Who Make America Great” by Sandra Neil Wallace, Rich Wallace and Agata Nowicka
  • “Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History” by Vashti Harrison
  • “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind” by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
  • “Something Rotten: A Fresh Look At Roadkill” by Heather L. Montgomery and Kevin O’Malley
  • “Interactive History Adventures” — an incredible series of choose-your-own-adventure style stories based on actual history, written by various authors.

Summer offers the perfect opportunity to explore new interests and develop passions. Give your students a little encouragement to play a little, to build stuff, and to get creative. And last, but never least, encourage them to read (a lot). I promise, they won’t miss the flashcards and the workbooks, and that summer slide won’t stand a chance.

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