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My family takes a summer break every single year. We are just not a year-round-school family. By the time June rolls around we are ready to shelve our school books and routine. We want to slow life down a little and spend less time on lessons and more time on enjoying our family. Thankfully there are plenty of fun educational summer activities that don’t feel like school. Really, these ‘summer school’ ideas are great any time of the year, we just have more time for these things when we are not concentrating on our usual curriculum.
This is my version of a homeschool summer school for my kids. They are still engaged and learning, but in a more unschool fashion and without a ton of advance planning from me.
Educational Summer Activities That Don’t Feel Like School
Visit Your Local Library
We go to the library every week. My kids each bring a milk crate that they fill with books. I require a minimum of 5 books, but they are encouraged to check out as much as they want. The milk crate makes it easy to load up on books while also keeping them together at home. They wander the aisles choosing a wide variety of books. I love seeing their interests develop as they make new choices each week.
Libraries offer more than just books. Many libraries offer child friendly guest speakers, cultural events, and hands on learning activities. Take a look at the library calendar for your county and go explore.
Reading every day is a great way to explore different topics. Did you know reading can actually change the structure of a brain? I require my kids to read for a minimum of 20 minutes every day. They set a timer on our Amazon Echo so that they don’t have to watch the clock. Many times they will read longer, especially if they are reading something really interesting.
Need book ideas? Follow my Best Book Lists Pinterest board!
My children practice math skills every single day, even in the summer. I don’t want to spend time reteaching old material in the fall, so it is important to prevent summer slide!
There are plenty of ways to practice math skills in just 20 minutes a day.
There is just something about tea and poetry that just seem to go together. I usually break out my fine wedding china, but a simple tea with poetry is just as fun. The basic idea is the same – read and discuss child-friendly poetry while sipping tea and enjoying fun treats. Grab a few children’s poetry anthologies while on your weekly library trip.
Taking your children on a writers workshop is a great way to get them interested in writing. This can be done at home, but my kids think it is extra special when we take this on the road. I load up a bag with writing supplies, story cubes, and other story starters and we head to a local coffee shop or restaurant. We all play these story creation games (even Mom!). By the time we leave, everyone is laughing over the story we wrote. It hardly feels like ‘school’.
We love going on field trips year round, but especially in the summer. During the school year I try to plan out specific museums and exhibits that line up with our studies, but in the summer we just wander around and see what piques our interest.
One thing I love about living in Raleigh is the free museums. Both the NC Science Museum and the NC History Museum are completely free of charge so we go pretty often. I added a few of the other local museums to our Summer 2018 Bucket List.
Indoor field trip locations are also great on a hot sunny day. Take advantage of the free air conditioning while also exploring new interests!
Need field trip ideas? Check out this post full of field trip spots that can work for just about any city!
Have any science experiments left over from your curriculum? Projects that you just didn’t get to? Now is the time to haul out the supplies and let the kids experiment. Science experiment kits are also readily available online. My kids both really enjoyed making bouncy balls and the edible science kit.
Other interesting science experiment ideas:
- Test household objects for bacteria
- Observe caterpillars and butterflies
- Combine Mentos and Coke (outside!)
STEMtrunk is an educational subscription service for kids. It works similar to the way Netflix did when they used physical DVDs. You create an account, add several STEMtrunks to your list, and they will send you one each month. Just mail it back when your kids are finished with the kit.
This is an awesome way to try out the newest STEM toys without the hefty price tag. I hate spending tons of money on the latest toys, only for my kids to get bored with it a few weeks later. When they get tired of their STEMtrunk we just send it back and wait for the next one to arrive in the mail.
I bought my kids a subscription for the summer. This month they are exploring the LittleBits Space Kit – designed with NASA Scientists and Engineers.
Plant a garden
Gardening is a great educational summer activity. Kids get real life hands-on experience growing food. If you start early enough, you can plant seeds and watch the entire plant life cycle.
We started late this year, due to our cross country move, so I bought small plants at our local farmer’s market. My kids just have to provide a sunny spot, some water, and a little attention. This summer we are growing a pineapple. Gotta love the magic of southern summer heat!
Cooking is a great way to learn. Kids learn:
- The importance of following directions
- Fractions – measuring, adding, and multiplying
- Life skills such as cooking and cleaning
Libraries are full of cookbooks. We like to wander down the aisle, pulling books out, and flipping through to check out all of the photos.
Even better – sign your kids up for Harlow’s Harvest and teach them how to cook!
Camps and Classes
Summer camps and classes can be a great way to learn new skills and meet new people. They can be a great addition to a homeschool summer school plan when mom and dad are busy or need a few quiet days. Parents can drop the kids off and take care of business while the kids are entertained and educated by trained professionals. It is also a great way for children to begin learning from people other than mom and dad.
You can find information about local summer camps and classes:
- Local mom blogger websites
- Community centers
- Sports centers
Last but not least, are board games. Board games are a great educational summer activity. I like to pull out board games and puzzles when it is too hot to play outside or when it is rainy. It is a great indoor activity.
Our current favorites are:
What educational summer activities are your kids favorites? Help other parents and share them in the comments!
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