If you’ve been teaching for any time at all, you know that summer slide is real, and maybe you’re looking for some ideas for preventing summer slide in June and July with your own children. Perhaps you want to find some ideas to give to the parents of your students that are easy to implement.
There are always the basics of preventing summer slide which are daily reading, writing, and math practice out of a workbook. These are wonderful in theory, but I have yet to meet a student who actually wanted to do the lessons in a workbook all summer long. Nor have I met a parent who wanted to do battle with a reluctant child over a workbook.
In this blog post, I have several ideas to slam on the brakes to stop summer slide with fun activities. All of these sneak in learning and skills practice while students are having a great summer break.
Would you rather listen to this post? You can do that at the Teacher Writer Talks podcast.
Visiting Museums to Stop Summer Slide
Museums are one of the best ways to stop summer slide. No matter where you live, you can probably find some museums to visit during June and July. In my second year of teaching, I made a goal of visiting at least one museum each week near my home.
Over the course of that summer break, I began with the larger and more popular museums, such as the Crocker Art Museum. Then I visited local history and government museums, such as the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol Building. I also visited museums that had limited time exhibitions. Finally, I visited tiny museums that don’t get many visitors. I lost count of how many I visited; perhaps it was around twenty. It was incredibly interesting, and great fodder for journal writing.
Of course, today there are many museums that are accessible online. In my opinion, these should be used as a backup plan or as an adjunct to in-person visits to brick and mortar museums or exhibitions. We want to teach the joy of discovery to our children, and I’m not convinced that an online visit to a museum is as impactful and joyful as one in real life.
Building relationships and building memories is the most important thing we can do for our children. Visiting museums together is one way to create memories.
Ted Talks for Kids Will Get Those Brain Cells Working
Do a quick search for Ted Talks for Kids and you’ll discover several playlists curated for young people. Here’s one playlist of Ted Talks for Kids that’s great for ages 8 and up. Of course, you’ll want to preview the videos to make sure they’re appropriate for your children or students.
The beauty of Ted Talks is they get us all thinking. Thinking about things we can do to make a better world or ideas for inventions. That could lead into some great summer STEM projects. It’s also a way to open the door to some deep and meaningful conversations.
Speaking of STEM, AnneMarie Thomas has a Ted Talk about her Squishy Circuits made with two different kinds of homemade play dough. Play dough made with salt is a conductor, and play dough made with sugar is a resistor. She demonstrates how even the tiniest hands can create wonderful experiments with circuits, and you can too.
There’s a reason the Squishy Circuits Ted Talk has had over one million views.
Puzzles and Coding Prevent Summer Slide
Let’s get strategic here. Puzzles can be a magical way to develop and maintain cognitive skills. You can choose any type of puzzle and gain benefits…word, math, jigsaw, coding, logic.
There are an endless variety to choose from and all of them help sharpen mental acuity. The key is to choose puzzles that aren’t too easy and aren’t too hard; in the ZPD, the Zone of Proximal Development, if you will.
If they’re too easy, they’ll be boring, and if they’re too hard, we want to just give up. Which I just did last night, with an annoying jigsaw puzzle that was almost entirely one color.
Coding is a fabulous activity kids love because there’s no end to what they can learn and do. But don’t think that you can’t give them coding activities if you don’t already know how to code. There are plenty of sites online where students can learn to code through games and puzzles.
Head over to Code.org and check out Hour of Code, some of the learning paths, and one-off Code Break activities. I used this site with my students and they loved the Minecraft coding and the Disney coding. A couple of students even created their own apps after starting with Code.org.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Summer slide in June and July is real! Learning to code is a great way to prevent summer slide. Kids can learn to code games and apps online for free.” quote=”Summer slide in June and July is real! Learning to code is a great way to prevent summer slide. Kids can learn to code games and apps online for free.” theme=”style3″]
Learning a Language Helps Prevent Summer Slide
Whether you have your children or students enroll in a community program, or talk with a neighbor who speaks another language, they’ll gain tremendous benefits.
If you use an app, like Mango, Duolingo, or Dinolingo, check with your local library. Some of them offer free access to a learning program. Our local library gives patrons access to Mango, which is a fun way to play with a new language at no cost.
Dinolingo and Duolingo also have a desktop version, (as of the time of this blog post) and they offer free versions. Dinolingo has a program devoted to teaching Spanish to kids. You can find sign language instructors on Youtube.
Even learning a few words and expressions can be motivating and fun for your students over the summer. You could even challenge them to greet you in the fall in a new language.
Art and Music Lessons for SEL and Critical Thinking
Art lessons are available for free online in a myriad of places. Do a quick search on Youtube with the term “art for kids” and you’ll see what I mean. These videos make a wonderful way to spend a hot afternoon indoors.
Mark Kistler is one cartoon artist who specializes in teaching kids. He has a fun, no stress, 30 Day 30 Drawings Challenge you can join at any time.
He teaches art terms such as perspective and shadowing, and how to use them. A teacher at our school who is also a professional artist recommended Mark Kistler lessons. His videos show you how to draw using materials you have on hand. There’s no need to buy any art supplies, unless you want to do that.
Music lessons for kids are also popular online. You can find them based on age, interests, and content. You can also find art and music activity packets to use at home that are free or paid on Teachers Pay Teachers. Just type in the type of activity you’re looking for.
Music and art can help calm us, can energize us, can help us get in touch with our emotions. Social emotional awareness is a critical skill for our children and us to learn, especially after the pandemic and lockdown. Music and art can help with this.
Classic Board Games for Strategic Thinking
Learning to play a classic board game is a super sneaky way to get your children to practice math and critical thinking skills. Many board games strengthen math and word skills…Yahtzee, Shut the Box, Bananagrams, Scrabble.
In my blog post, “End of School Year Activities That Are Free or Low Cost,” I mentioned a Wheel of Wealth game that’s free from the Mathy Techy store on Teachers Pay Teachers. I just saw that he also has a Shut the Box game available to play on your computer. This one isn’t free, but if you’ve ever played it, you know how fun it is. It’s a great way to strengthen math skills.
Another thing I like to do is go to the local thrift stores and buy games there. You can find every type of game there. If you take your children with you, they can pick out a game and you can pick out another. If they’re part of the process of choosing, they’re more likely to be invested in it.
I have a few years invested in this life, and I have to tell you that when I was in elementary school, my friends and I spent hours and hours in the summertime playing games. We played Yahtzee, Boggle, Uno, Scrabble, Shut the Box, and so many more games.
Then we’d go swimming at the local public pool, and right next door there was a Parks and Recreation room that had…you guessed it. Board games. It was the local hangout for all the kids in our neighborhood.
I’m convinced that all the hours we invested in games helped us succeed in the beginning of each school year, because we’d practiced math and word skills all summer long.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Building relationships and building memories is the most important thing we can do for our children. Visiting museums together is one way to create memories.” quote=”Building relationships and building memories is the most important thing we can do for our children. Visiting museums and playing games together are ways to create memories.” theme=”style3″]
Write a Script for a Play and Put on a Performance.
It’s so fun to watch your children or your students put on a performance, especially one they’ve written themselves. They can also create the programs for the performance, create invitations for family and friends, and build the props.
During the intermission, kids can run a refreshment stand. Have them be in charge of keeping track of expenses and income.
You can also find Readers Theater scripts online that can be used to put on a play. My friend Christy at Happy Hive Homeschooling has several of them on her website.
Watch a Movie and Then Read the Book
Normally, in the classroom, we read a book together. Then, we do a compare and contrast activity as we watch the movie. Let’s flip this one around a bit.
During the summer, wouldn’t it be fun to watch a movie, and then take a trip to the library to find the book to read? Need some ideas? Check out this Huge List of Children’s Books Adapted Into Movies at the Imagination Soup blog. The list includes books with movie adaptations for all ages.
Summer Writing Journal
This wouldn’t be a writing blog without something about writing, right?
Having a summer writing journal is a great way to keep up a daily writing practice over the summer. Another benefit is when school begins in the fall, and the teacher assigns the ubiquitous writing assignment, “What I Did This Summer”, it will be easier for a student to come up with something interesting to write about.
The writing journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A regular composition book or spiral notebook will do. Use stick on tabs to create sections. Some ideas for sections can be:
- Books I read
- Museums I visited
- Day trips I took
- Vacations I took
- New things I learned
- My favorites
Stop Summer Slide by Cooking Together
I’m all about food and cooking and good nutrition. You can encourage your children or students to try a new food or recipe over the summer. If they find a new favorite food, great! If they don’t like the food they tried, that’s okay too.
When they help out in the kitchen, they’re learning and practicing so many skills.
- Chemistry (The science behind baking transformations.)
- Nutrition and reading nutritional information labels.
So encourage them to find a new recipe and have an adult help them learn how to make it.
Don’t overlook the availability of classes and resources from your local Agriculture Cooperative. They often have kid-centric recipe books and activities for free.
If you’re located in the United States, most cities and towns have Parks and Recreation Departments that have summer programs, classes, and activities for children and teens. One key to preventing summer slide is engaging in a variety of activities. So have fun finding new things to do this summer!
[click_to_tweet tweet=”Make a summer writing journal to slam the brakes on summer slide. Divide it into sections. Some ideas for sections can be: 1. Books I read 2. Museums I visited 3. Day trips I took 4. Vacations I took 5. New things I learned 6. My favorites” quote=”Make a summer writing journal to slam the brakes on summer slide. Divide it into sections. Some ideas for sections can be: 1. Books I read 2. Museums I visited 3. Day trips I took 4. Vacations I took 5. New things I learned 6. My favorites” theme=”style3″]
Before you go, take a minute to save this quick reference graphic to your phone, your Pinterest account, or your desktop. It will be a quick reminder of some of the ideas you can use during June and July to keep your children and students on the top of their game!