What is the summer slide? It also goes by the summer slump, summer setback, and summer brain drain. It all means the same thing to parents: summer learning loss for our kids.
Recent summer slide research shows that students are now losing more knowledge in math each year during the summer than in reading.
And they lose more knowledge during each summer the older they get! Each time they return to school, they’ll slide back to be more and more behind.
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So, how can we prevent the summer slide? Here are over 30 fun summer learning activities for elementary students to help beat the summer slide. Many of them can also work for older children.
Pick a couple that you think will work best for you and your kids and incorporate them into your schedule!
Need ideas for fun family summer activities?
Read As Much As Possible
- Check your local library for details on how to join their summer reading program. They might even have some cool prizes for participating! Find out if they have a story time, and check area bookstores for their story times and plan a visit.
- Here are some other great summer reading programs to check out:
-Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge
-Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program
-Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Giveaway for Grades 1-6
-Books-A-Million Summer Reading Adventure
-Sync Free Audiobooks for Teens All Summer Long
-Mensa for Kids’ Excellence in Reading
- Encourage your child to read at least 20-30 minutes everyday. If they want to read comics, graphic novels, joke books, kids’ magazines, ebooks, etc., just let them! You want them to develop a positive attitude towards reading.
- Need additional suggestions for books? Check out the links below!
- Speaking of ebooks, Amazon now has FreeTime Unlimited for kids– an all-in-one subscription that offers thousands of kid-friendly books, Audible books, apps, music, movies, and more! There are parental controls and you can customize profiles for different children. Try 1 month for free!
- Read aloud with your child, or take turns reading to each other. Read with feeling and make different voices for the characters if you’re up for it. During this time, you can introduce them to new genres that they might enjoy. Your family could pick out a book that you all read together 15 minutes before bed, or you could watch a video from Storyline Online!
- Playing word games like Scrabble, Bananagrams, Scrabble Slam, Quiddler Junior, Apples to Apples Junior, and Hedbanz really develops kids’ vocabulary and critical thinking skills. They are also just plain fun to play together!
- Audio books are another great option to try. The whole family can listen together or just the kids. These are perfect for a summer vacation road trip in the car, or for a “quiet time” where kids can listen on their headphones so you can get some things done.
Never used audio books? You can give Audible a try right now FREE for 30 days and you’ll get 2 FREE audiobooks! And Audible can be used on tons of devices that you probably already have!
Want some help planning your summer? Check out our printable 35 page Summer Activity Planner in the shop & get your summer organized for fun & learning!
Develop Those Writing Skills
- Encourage your child to write in a journal over the summer. Keep details of fun summer activities, goals, and trip schedules and they’ll enjoy remembering all the fun they had when they read it again later. Here are some great kids’ journals to choose from!
- If they have certain TV/movie/book characters that they are obsessed with, they can write their own stories about them or mix up the characters to make a whole new world. Ask them to read the story to you and act out the voices, or make a family thing of it and everyone can play different parts!
- Is your child interested in a specific animal, or curious about the way something works? If they’re old enough, they can do some research on the computer, or use books from the library to write an outline or a few paragraphs on that topic. Like “10 Cool Facts About Cobras” or “How Does Electricity Get to Our House?”
- Write a short review of the books they read over the summer. This helps their writing skills, and you can check their reading comprehension. They also get to share their opinions, which my child looooves to do! Put the reports in a notebook and they can look back at them to remember what they read, and you can see their writing improve over time.
Have Fun with Math!
My child loves math at the moment, but when I was a child, I hated it! Now, there are a lot of fun ways to introduce and reinforce math skills.
- An entertaining way to work in math practice is by playing games. We like to play board games at least once a week as a family. Monopoly or Monopoly Junior, Ticket to Ride First Journey, Math Dice Junior, ICECOOL, and chess all help with math skills, logical reasoning and strategic thinking. My son and I love to play online chess with each other on ChessKid!
- Card games like Phase 10, Skip-Bo, and SET Junior Board Game are also a lot of fun! Check out more math games here.
Teach Your Child How Useful Math is in the Real World:
- At the grocery store, show them how to figure which item is cheaper by determining the price per ounce/pound, and if you’re using coupons, how much money you’ll save.
- You can also do this at restaurants where they have combos or specials- talk about what’s the better deal for what you want to buy.
- Give them a few dollars to buy some snacks or small toys and they’ll have to figure out how to make the most of their money.
- Older children can plan a pretend trip with a budget. Maybe you can even use it on a future vacation!
- Keep a change jar at home? Once it’s full, tell your kids that if they count it that they can keep a certain percentage as a “finder’s fee.” Then they can calculate the percentage and show their work if they want it bad enough!
- Let your children help you with measuring ingredients when cooking or baking. You can talk about different ways to make the correct amount and what measuring tools you use in the kitchen.
- Participate in a summer math challenge.
- Read books about math. Check out the popular Bedtime Math series, the math adventure series of Sir Cumference, and read more about a different way of teaching math on the MathsThroughStories website.
- Play online math games. Here are some great websites for elementary school math games:
More Creative Summer Learning Activities
- Start a business. Does your child dream of starting a business? Mine wants to start a video game empire, lol! Here’s a long list of business ideas for kids.
- Let your child try out a podcast or two. Here’s a list with several for different ages.
- Learn graphic design skills that your child will use basically forever. Graphic design is so easy now with Canva. My son was using it last year as a 9 year old to create his own comics! They have tons of templates on there to help get you started- photo books, comic strips, newsletter, presentations, class poster, worksheets, flash cards & more! They have a free version & a Canva Pro version you can try for free for 30 days!
- Take an online class- some are even free!
- Try Outschool, Khan Academy, or DIY.org to search a wide variety of classes that fits your child’s age and interest.
- Varsity Tutors has over 200 classes and a really fun variety of subjects like chess, theater, coding, LEGO movie making, hands-on science, languages and more! When searching for classes, you can filter for all FREE classes if that’s what you’re looking for.
- Code.org or Scratch are also both great for coding if they’re interested in learning to code or make their own video games.
- Take music lessons. Read here about the many benefits of music lessons for children. They even have online music lessons!
- Memorize poetry. There are so many fun and creative poems out there for children! The whole family could even get in on this. Here are some sites to guide you to teach your children to memorize poems, and what poems work for each age:
- Find a local learning center and ask what classes they’re offering for the summer.
- Do crosswords, word finds, and jigsaw puzzles.
- Buy a workbook for your child and ask them to do a sheet or two every once in a while to brush up on their skills. It doesn’t have to be a specific summer slide workbook, just one you think your child will enjoy learning from. Our son loves the Brain Quest workbooks– they have fun activities & games! You can also generate your own reading and math worksheets for free here.
- Learn typing online for free!
Don’t forget to download your FREE summer reading printables below to help your child keep track of their reading over the summer!
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What are some fun learning activities you use to help your kids beat the summer slide?