By: Mindy Scirri
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As the weather warms and you begin spending more time outside, you may be starting to think about fun summer activities for kids to do at home. Whether you are trying to create a simple list of summer activities for kids or planning elaborate ideas for summer camp at home, the season brings opportunities for you to learn with your children in different and enjoyable new ways. Unless you are a year-round homeschooler, academics may not be at the center of your summer plans, but it doesn’t take much to transform summer hobbies and events into educational summer activities.
Ideas for fun summer activities to do at home will vary based on the ages of your kids. For example, summer activities for preschoolers at home may involve using sidewalk chalk to practice writing letters or numbers. Elementary school children may enjoy tossing a ball or shooting hoops while practicing spelling or math skills while summer activities for tweens at home, or even for teenagers at home, may involve broader reading or writing experiences perhaps incorporating technology or social media. Regardless of their ages, here are a few educational but fun summer activities for kids at home:
Summer Activities for ELA Learning
If you think about it, almost everything we do practices reading, writing, listening, or speaking skills in some form or another. A simple conversation with your children during a summer drive or walk, for example, can essentially be an ELA activity. Here are a couple summer activities to do at home if you want to intentionally build ELA skills and strategies:
- Connect Summer Reading to Summer Themes/Activities: Consider creating a comfortable new reading space for your kids for the summer like a hammock or blanket under a tree or a comfortable chair or lounge in a pretty part of the yard. Offer reading choices that focus on summer or its activities. For example, have the kids read The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, as you and your family tend your garden this summer, or read books that align with summer movie releases.
- Capture Memories of Summer Experiences/Events: Have your kids start a journal and write for just a few minutes a day. Ask them to capture summer vacations, of course, but even if they are home, they can write about something each day that they experience during their time off from school. You can review their writing afterward, and they have created a personal narrative of the summer. Consider having them incorporate their “story of the summer” into a video, presentation, scrapbook, or art book for a family keepsake.
Summer Activities for Math Learning
If you want to build math skills, you may have to be especially careful in the summer to make sure your children do not feel like they are “doing math.” That’s probably true of any academics in the summertime, but math is certainly going to create reluctant participants if it is not fun. Check out these summer activities for kids at home that can strengthen math skills when they least expect it:
- Use Items in the Yard: Practice measurement skills by having your kids find fun things in the yard, guess their sizes, and then measure. Do a scavenger hunt to find items of particular categories (i.e., leaves, sticks, rocks) and draw bar graphs in the dirt/sand to show the numbers of each. Determine area and perimeter of fenced in spaces, garages, sheds, or other items in the yard.
- Incorporate Summer Sports/Hobbies: Play math facts hopscotch (where the questions are written, but the players need to say the answers as they skip) or jump rope while skip counting (e.g., 3, 6, 9, 12). Toss or catch a ball, shoot a basketball, or kick a soccer ball, with each math fact. Write math problems on the driveway or garage floor in sidewalk chalk as part of a larger “active math” obstacle course.
Summer Activities for Content Area Learning
Summer homeschool activities related to content area learning may be easier to tie into your natural summer activities. Think about ways to bring awareness and build background knowledge related to the world around your family as you investigate the outdoors. Provide a context for what they discover and make connections whenever you can to what they have learned during the past school year. Here are some suggestions:
- Explore Nature: Find places in your yard or neighborhood to watch bugs, birds, or other wildlife. Identify local trees and flowers as you walk or hike around the house. Collect rain or pond water to analyze or study the stars on a warm summer night.
- Create or Read Maps: Have your kids create a map of a part of the yard or community. Try geocaching within your own yard or neighborhood or take a summer drive and map out local historical places and geographical landforms.
Ideas for Summer Camp Activities at Home
If you are ambitious, consider creating your own educational summer camp at home. To give you ideas, here is a mock schedule for one day of a fun summer camp:
- Math Facts Morning Reveille and Breakfast: Begin a chant that incorporates hard-to-learn math facts as the wake-up song and then eat a summer breakfast.
- Set up Camp: Help the kids set up a tent in the yard and some type of campfire (even in a tailgate grill).
- Independent Writing: Ask kids to find special places in the yard to write scary stories for the campfire.
- Active Math Games: Play Mr. Fox, Redlight/Greenlight, or Freezetag using math questions as the only ways to move forward or become “unfrozen.”
- Mindful Picnic Lunch: Sit on a blanket for lunch and then have kids notice things about their environment and point out the details.
- Reading “In the Park”: Have the kids read a story and act it out (on an outside “stage”) with the family like a “Shakespeare-in-the-Park” production.
- Yard Hike: Hike around the yard and have each person find five items of interest to share during dinner.
- Dinner Presentations: Show and tell your yard items from the hike after you eat.
- Campfire Stories: Make S’mores and relax and then share each person’s scary campfire story.
- Lights out! Everyone to the tent for an overnight campout under the stars!
Have fun with summer activities for kids at home and embed learning whenever you can. If your kids are having fun, they may miss the fact that they are learning, and they will return to school in the fall with fond memories, a bit more knowledge, and a few more skills.