10 Fun Ways to Keep Kids Learning During Summer Break

These fun and educational activities can be adapted for children of all ages.

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School may be out for the summer, but that doesn't mean that children should stop learning. Informal learning both indoors and out over the summer can keep your kids from experiencing what teachers call the summer slide or brain drain. Children who are not engaged in learning activities can lose about 25 percent of their academic skills over the summer. But they don't have to.

Keeping your children engaged in learning activities that are fun to do is the key to informal summer learning. Here are 10 activities that will keep reading, writing, math, science, and more skills sharp. There is something for kids of all ages.

1. Teach Kids to Cook

Cooking with kids is a fun bonding experience, and besides getting kids involved in planning and helping with meals, it is a great way to teach kids basic math skills. Cooking uses measurements, fractions, convert weights, temperatures, and telling time as well as general skills like following directions. You can use Cooking with Kids as a great resource with recipes, safety tips, and more.

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2. Go to the Zoo

Zoos, especially ones with children's sections, feature lots of learning activities. The Bronx children's zoo in New York City, for example, is full of activities like hearing like a fox or climbing a spider's web, but don't forget the petting zoo where kids can feed and interact with animals directly. When you go to the zoo, stop and read all the animals' descriptions along the way. If there is no zoo nearby, go to a drive-through reserve or take a nature walk and keep track of the types of plants and birds you see.

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3. Join a Children's Book Club

Reading over the summer is essential. Many libraries have a summer reading club or start a family or neighborhood book club. You can read the story to a group or every child can read by themselves and get together for a book discussion with cake and ice cream. Have older children read to younger children, visit your library or join a book-giving organization like Imagination Library or PJ Library.

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4. Play Math Games

Scholastic has a list of math games you can play with your kids. One is Shopaholic where you plan what can you buy for $5 at the local store, from the ice cream truck, in a hardware store, or at the beach. Then spend the money with the kids for a treat. Or Change it up,  where you start collecting change in a jar, on the last day guess what is in the jar, count it (learning how to count coins is a necessary skill), and then plan how to spend it together. For kids who live for electronic devices, make their iPad or iPhone work for you by loading Math Champ, an app that allows kids to go head-to-head against other kids in a virtual math competition.

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5. Take a Field Trip

Field trips to art museums, science museums, and history museums open up all kinds of learning opportunities. Children's museums feature hands-on activities. The Long Island Children's museum has 14 interactive exhibits and live theater for kids. Look for a museum near you. If there are none nearby, you can take an online virtual tour of many of the world's best museums.

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6. Write Your Own Book

Keep the kids writing through the summer by having them keep a summer journal. You can buy a simple notebook or a more elaborate book with blank pages. Illustrate the journal with drawings or pictures. Or create a scrap book that includes postcards from your summer vacation. Little kids can create a picture book.

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7.  Learn to Make Origami

Arts and crafts are also a great way to learn. Origami, or paper folding, is an excellent activity for kids. You can print out instructions on how to make an Origami Crane. Other crafts also contain learning opportunities like building models, modeling clay, bead crafts, and much more.

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8. Play Car Games

A great way to end the are we there yet questions and keep kids off of electronics for the duration. Scholastic recommends these games: Car Bingo requires some work before you get in the car. Create a car bingo card with words, shapes, and items that kids will see during the trip (stop signs, railroad crossings, etc.) and use a bingo marker on the card. Another is the alphabet game that can be played with things you see along the way or road signs or license plates.

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9. Spelling F-U-N

Use family game night to do games that require you to use and spell words like Scrabble (Scrabble Jr for younger kids) Upwords, Boogle, Bananagrams, or crossword puzzles.

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10. Plan a Family Vacation

This entry is for older kids. Choose a place using an atlas, map, guidebook, or online and plan a vacation – real or virtual –  using the budget you provide. Pick places to visit in your itinerary that are educational like historic sites, recreational like parks, beaches, or mini golf, or just plain fun like water parks.


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