Summer Activities While School’s Out!

Author: Debbie Houston

While it is true that the lessons, readings, projects, field trips and homework of the school year are over, all of these things can be a part of a child’s summer!  Brains, like bodies, thrive and grow with exercise and lessons, readings, projects, field trips and homework can be fun ways to pump up the brain!

Really? Fun? Keep reading…School is out for Summer image









LESSONS? What if your child decided what lessons they wanted to learn this summer? When children make choices for themselves, they are more invested in the learning and therefore more learning actually occurs.  Ask your child, “What would you like to learn to do this summer?” Perhaps, ride a bike or tricycle, jump on a pogo stick, climb a rock wall or dance the cha-cha?  Maybe your child would like piano lessons, archery lessons, be a member of a swim team, Spanish or Japanese lessons or learn how to knit. Lessons in cooking, gymnastics, and planting gardens are more fun ways for children to learn! Can your child climb stairs or a ladder, pump his legs on a swing, create and use a pulley or lever, or make a pinch pot? What about make popsicles, whistle, scan groceries, sing a song, dribble a ball, do laundry or play a harmonica? When you ask your child and give them choices, then the lessons are fun and engaging; when you decide, they may or may not be. Perhaps the above ideas will give you a starting place to have this conversation with your child. By the way, what have you decided to learn this summer?


The More That You Read imageREADING? Recording their nightly reading during the school year and now recording the list of books read during the summer provide a visual representation of their reading.  This comes with a warning! Remember the lasting, impactful goal is always to enjoy the reading, the book and the experience; it is not to enjoy the number or counting them or a competition.  It is certainly fine to create a target or goal together (or weekly goals) and them aim and shoot for that goal, as long as you are more focused and attentive on the wonderful experiences of reading and learning!  Decorating, drawing, painting or creating a visual reminder can be a fun activity for children. Picture this: your child decides to read (or be read to) 5 days a week so you create a target that has 5 rings. Each night you read, your child can write the book’s title, or genre, make a mark, or color in the ring.  At the end of the week you write the number of books in the bull’s eye! Another way to record your reading might be to draw a picture or write a sentence or take a picture of a favorite book or part of a book! It is important that your child comes to understand that the reading of the book brings the reward—you enjoyed it; it was a funny book; you loved the pictures; you learned some interesting facts; reading with Dad was fun; and you learned you loved funny poems!—instead of teaching your child that they have to “get paid” for reading. The target only becomes a way to set and meet goals, accomplish what the child wants, and visually track the progress. A trip to your local library to check out books each week or two is so much fun and provides so many good book choices! Your child might also like participating in local library reading programs. Maybe you set up a book club with several children where the children read and then come together to talk about their favorite parts, what they learned, what they did not like, etc. One more important question, do your children see you reading and enjoying books?  This book list by our librarian, Mary Ellen Bray, will give you some ideas for reading programs and many, many great books: click here.


PROJECTS? Projects are wonderful opportunities to create, grow and learn: build a birdhouse, paint a book shelf, plant a small garden or a patio tomato plant, or make a robot from recycled materials! Did you ever consider that to your child, starting a compost bin, labeling recycle trashcans in your home, creating a bin of seeds with pouring vessels and making 2-3 different colors of play-dough are projects? Please know that projects do NOT have to end with a “project” or craft!  In fact, the learning occurs in the process! A bin of recycled boxes and containers and masking tape or a bucket of broken toys, game pieces, washers, wood pieces and glue invite your child to think and constructively create!  Brainstorm with your child all the projects they would like to do and then provide the materials and time for your child to do them, remembering to offer your help when asked or needed and to let the project belong to your child so they feel good at the completion of it.  Projects are not about making the perfect end result, but about the process of learning that occurs throughout the making! Process over project always results in more thinking and learning and more sense of accomplishment and pride. It is the creation process that results in the highest learning, where we move from convergent and fixed learning to divergent learning without limits. When children have to process…they are thinking! Hmmmm…what about your summer projects? Summer Science Activities imageOur Science teacher, Eric Stevens, has provided some Summer Science Projects and Activities guaranteed to have your child creating, growing and learning: click here.

Also check out Creative Kids at Home website; it might give you and your child some ideas for starting: click here.



FIELD TRIPS? Summer is the perfect time to think about field trips—those places that could be interesting and fun or places you have always wanted to visit.  You have many opportunities beyond the obvious local spots or Disney World: sitting and watching workers at a construction site, fruit and vegetable picking at orchards and farms, exploring all the local museums, visiting a farm or dairy, spending time walking in a creek, going into Morengo Caves when it is 90 degrees outside, visiting the aquarium, train station, historic sites or baseball stadiums and taking a field trip to many more common and uncommon places beckon you and your child to come and play, explore and learn. To your child, a trip to a park, putting on the green at a golf course, walking the bridge and hiking in the woods are field trips! Where will you explore together? There are so many places in Louisville and our surrounding areas or even travel an hour or so away!


Website imageCOMPUTER GAMES? Playing on the computer might be a babysitter at times, but remember that all of the above activities will have your child’s brain and body more engaged, thinking, moving, connecting and learning. When the rainy days come…and they will…what are some indoor activities that will keep your child engaged and not whining, “I’m bored!”? Creating a rainy day basket of toys, games and project materials that only comes out during rainy days will do it! Remember that cooking, playing in the bath tub (who says you can only play in the tub at night and at bath time?), watching a movie (this is the time to do this instead of making TV viewing a regular habit) and eating popcorn you have popped together, spreading a large sheet of drawing paper from a roll on the floor and placing a container of markers, crayons and oil pastels nearby, and playing board games and card games shower your child with rainy day fun! What about computer games? Virginia Chance’s Technology Specialist, Mike Martin, has provided a list of educational and approved websites for you and your child to enjoy: click here.


And HOMEWORK?  Shhh…Children’s summer play is their work!