As a former teacher I understand 2 things very well: 1. Students slide back academically over the summer months when they are not getting consistent practice with fundamental skills in reading, math and other subjects, including science. 2. Kids need time to play and be kids. So how do we encourage learning AND play during the summer months?
The page contains affiliate links, please see disclosures for more information.
Here are some launching points for avoiding the summer slide:
The Summer Slide
Here are some launching points for avoiding the summer slide:
- National Summer Learning Association: "Know the Facts"
- Reading is Fundamental "Keeping Kids Off the Summer Slide"
- Edutopia: "Parents: Inspiring Readers Through the Summer Slump"
- Homeroom Blog- U.S. Department of Education: "Become an "Education Coach" and Keep the Summer Slide at Bay All Season"
- Education.com "The Summer Slide"
There are many options for keeping kids occupied and educationally engaged over the summer, and they don't all have to involve screens or electronics. Activities include camps, at-home projects, classes, workshops, toys and trips. These obviously vary with the time and budget you have set out for yourself for the summer months.
Science Summer Camps
There are more and more options for science related summer programming for kids each year. Many colleges, independent school campuses and community centers are offering themed camps that combine academics and fun. Your local school or community center most likely has a camp fair or other resources for finding these programs. You can also seek them out online. Try these links to help you find some science enrichment for your child at various age levels and costs.
- Science Buddies Searchable Camp Directory
- USA Science Camps and Programs
- Pathways to Science Advanced Programs
- Listing of Kids Technology Camps
- Academic and Pre-College Camps- Science Themed
- American Camp Association- Find a Camp
At-Home Science LearningCamps can run into a lot of money, so if they don't fit into your budget there are certainly ways to provide enriching experiences right at home with your children. Check out these DIY at-home science camp ideas.
If you are creative and have the time you can design your own science activities for kids fairly inexpensively. Check out the Share it! Science Pinterest boards or our "Saturday Science Experiment" page for a variety of ideas for at-home projects. If you don't already subscribe to our e-mail service, please do! You'll get an e-mail every time we publish a new post on the blog.
Here are a few other links with inspiring science project ideas to get you started:
- Home Training Tools- Summer Science Projects Links
- DIY Summer Science Camp
- Education.com "Summer Slide" Project Ideas
Subscribe to a Monthly Science Kit
There are many award-winning subscription services that will send your child an engaging box of activities each month. Check out the following:
Green Kid Crafts offers award-winning, earth-friendly activity boxes for ages 3-10. Their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Science Kits guide kids through scientific inquiry and experimentation in a fun, hands-on way. Summer Discovery Series boxes contain 4-6 Creativity and STEM Science Kits with extension activities, and online extras. Check out the links below to learn more about Green Kid Crafts.
Groovy Lab in a Box sends award-winning, hands-on STEM experiments for ages 8+ to your mailbox monthly. Each box contains experiments and engineering design challenges. Everything you need is included in the box, so no hunting for specific supplies! They also offer bonus material online to support the materials they send in the box.
Kiwi Crate provides boxes of hands-on fun for a wide variety of ages. Each box includes 2-3 projects with the option to add-on extra supplies for siblings. Their 4 different brands provide activities for different ages: Koala Crate- "Play and Learn" for ages 3-4, Kiwi Crate- "Open-Ended Learning" for ages 4-8, Tinker Crate- "Science, Engineering and Awesome" for ages 9-14+, and Doodle Crate- "Art and Design" for ages 9-16+. For more information click the image below.
You also won't want to miss Steve Spangler's Science Club boxes.
Toys that encourage children to build, engineer and experiment
Practicing reading, writing and math skills are incredibly important but the process of open ended inquiry helps to strengthen important science skills.
Snap Circuits are easy to use circuitry building toys. Pieces snap together to build working models of a photo-sensor, adjustable volume siren and 100 more activities. Several of my students have used these for science projects and just for fun. Suggested for ages 8 and up.
Goldieblox and Roominates are building toys geared towards young female creators. Both allow for multiple designs to build and solve engineering challenges.
Check out these Share it! Science posts on how to get involved in great citizen science projects.
- "The Great Backyard Bird Count and other Winter Citizen Science Projects"
- "Penguin Watch and Other Ways YOU Can Be a Scientist"
- "Over 70 of the Best Science Web Resources" (Scroll down to the citizen science section!)
- "Science Teacher's Toolbox: Testing Water Quality" (Check out the World Water Monitoring Challenge)
- "Insect Investigations: Summertime Citizen Science"
- "Science Teaching Toolbox: Girl Power! Getting (and keeping) Girls Interested in Science" (Scroll down to the "Authentic Experiences" section)
- "Pathways to Science: NASA S'COOL and Project BudBurst"
Trips and Vacations
How can you incorporate learning into your trips and summer vacation plans? It doesn't have to be hard. Build your child's map skills by keeping track of where you are going on a paper map they can trace. Play word games in the car that keep kids reading signs as you travel. Keep those math skills sharp by helping them budget their spending for souvenirs, or calculating speed or mileage. Explore nature by hiking, biking or canoeing- and bring along a field guide to identify animals and plants. Visit a zoo, aquarium, museum, national park or historical site and take advantage of the materials they offer for education (often there are pre-visit materials right on their website). The best thing you can do is to continue to learn yourself, kids benefit so much from curious parents!
I hope that you have found some of these ideas, links or products inspiring and within your budget and time availability for this summer. Let's fight the summer slump! What ideas and plans do you have to stimulate learning in your children this year? Please share in the comments below!