Summer is here again and school is over, but learning doesn't need to stop. Here are nine ways to continue learning outside the classroom:
- Build reading and writing into everyday activities. Some ideas to pass along: (1) watching TV with the sound off and closed captioning on, (2) reading directions for how to play a new game, or (3) helping with meals by writing up a grocery list, finding things in the grocery store, and reading the recipe aloud for mom or dad during cooking time. More ideas at PBS Parents (in Spanish, too).
- Be an active citizen. Kids who participate in community service activities gain not only new skills but self-confidence and self-esteem. Help them zoom into action! Resources from ZOOM can help them get the most out of helping others this summer.
- Real world reading. Newsela builds nonfiction literacy and awareness of world events by providing access to hundreds of leveled news articles with quizzes and new content daily.
- Create musical instruments from materials found around the house. Need help? Enchanted Learning provides instructions for such Musical Instruments as a rattle, box guitar, maraca, and rain stick. Here is a link to schematics for a variety of instruments and here is Linsey Pollak performing on many of the instruments he teaches you to build.
- Active bodies. Active minds. First Lady Michele Obama is leading the national Let's Move initiative — with the goal of raising a healthier generation of children. Let's Move Outside has lots of ideas to help kids get the 60 minutes of active play they need everyday.
- Have a scavenger hunt with geocaching. Everyone loves a scavenger hunt and geocaching is the high-tech version of an age-old game using handheld GPS tools (or a GPS app on your smart phone). Try a variation on geocaching called earthcaching where you seek out and learn about unique geologic features. Find more details about geocaching plus links to geocaching websites in this article from the School Family website, Geocaching 101: Family Fun for All, in Every Season.
- Watch a garden grow and build research, reading, and writing skills with this summer project from ReadWriteThink. Children are encouraged to write questions and observations in a summer garden journal. Or check out the Kids Gardening website for lots of great ideas and resources for family (and school) gardening.
- Experiment with cooking with the step-by-step lessons and recipes at Cooking With Kids. The site also includes measurement reminders, safety tips, and suggestions for involving kids in the cooking process. Or check out your local library or book store for one of the recommended Heritage Cooking for Kids: Taste History books and try out recipes from Colonial days, the Civil War, and the Lewis and Clark expedition.
- Plan ahead for fall. Work with the teachers a grade level above to develop a short list of what their new students have to look forward to when they return to school. For example, if rising third graders will be studying ancient cultures, check out educational TV, movies, or local museums that can provide valuable background information on that topic.