25 Summer Learning Activities for Kids

June 1, 2021 by Sarah Cason




Summertime is full of fun! It can be full of learning too…learning that is fun! We know that parents want their children to have fun in the summer, but they also want them to keep learning. It can be so hard to balance all of the schedules, ball games, vacations, trips to the pool and still make sure children keep learning and don’t fall behind over the summer. 

We have 25 fun summer learning activities that will keep your children engaged this summer and have FUN while doing it. Check them out and choose the ones that your children will LOVE!

Use the free printable checklist of these activities so that your children can track their summer progress.

Activity 1 – Scavenger Hunt

This is an ALL TIME favorite! Any scavenger hunt always gets children (and grown-ups) excited! You can make your scavenger hunt yourself or try the Summer Scavenger Hunt that we have created for you. Consider giving children a clipboard and magnifying glass and they will feel like a detective! Also, encourage them to utilize the letter and sound skills they learned at school and read the directions on the scavenger hunt themselves. Higher-level thinking skills can be used by encouraging them to CREATE their own scavenger hunt for a friend, sibling, or parent. 

2 – Visit a Museum 

Consider a trip to an art, science, or history museum this summer! Did you know that many local museums will have kid activities listed on their websites that include printable activities? Before taking a trip to your local museum, check out their website for ideas. If they don’t provide activities, consider making your own! Challenge your children to find three favorite things at the museum and write about or draw them when they return home. Give them a notepad and pencil to carry around the museum to take notes throughout the visit. This is a great way for them to make personal connections to what they see and experience at the museum. Another option is a virtual museum trip! Did you know that you can visit many museums from the comfort of your own home? Check out this list of 15 Virtual Museum Tours for Kids.

3 – Visit the Zoo 

Many families make a trip to the zoo in the summer but consider incorporating reading and math activities into the visit. Give your children a checklist of animals to mark off as they see them. Then, have your children count the animals they see or draw their favorite animal. This is another opportunity to give them a notebook or clipboard and pencil! Children feel so grown up when they are given these supplies and a “job” to complete. Many zoos have children’s activities on their websites, so be sure to check that out as well.

However, if you aren’t able to make it to a zoo in person, there are many opportunities to explore zoo animals from home. For example, animals can be observed via the webcams at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. The Indianapolis Zoo also has many animal webcams that you can watch with your children. Check your local zoo’s website for virtual activities and webcams. Then, continue your zoo fun with our Zoo Animals Activities resource that includes books, journals, and printable animal cards.  

Activity 4 –  Flashlight Words

Sight words can be a challenge to remember over the summer if they aren’t used. Write your child’s sight words on note cards and hang them in a tent, around the yard, or in the house. Next, give them a flashlight at dusk and have them shine the flashlight on the words, and read them to you.  Make it a challenge to find ALL of the words by the time it gets dark!

5 – Visit the Library

Visit your local library, and take your library trip one step further by creating or participating in a reading challenge! Be sure to check with your local library and inquire about any summer reading programs or challenges for children. They often have programs with prizes and in-person or virtual activities for children throughout the summer. If your library doesn’t have any reading challenges, create a challenge of your own for your children to read a specific number of books, and reward them with a prize or treat when the challenge is completed! Try the Battle of the Books challenges for an additional idea. 

6 – Go on a Drive

Grab some notebooks and pencils and pile into the car. Take a drive and encourage your children to take note of their surroundings and what you pass while driving. Have them write or draw about the things they see. Or, just talk about it! Driving in the car is the perfect opportunity to build vocabulary and conversation skills. Use this drive time to spark conversation about what different road signs mean, drive-by favorite places, or share stories. Consider letting your children figure out if you are going north, south, east, or west. Whatever you talk about, encourage your children to be both the speakers and the listeners, and encourage your children to both ask and answer questions in the conversation.

Activity 7 – Write the House

Write the Room is a really popular classroom activity. Of course, you can have summer fun with this activity by adapting it to Write the House this summer! The Write the Room Kindergarten resource and Write the Room First Grade resources both include math and reading activities. So, just print, cut the cards apart, hang them throughout your house and then give your child the coordinating recording sheet. Indeed, this will keep them busy, engaged, learning, and still having fun!  

8 – Go to the Park

Grab a tape measure before you leave and measure objects at the park. Children love to use tools! Use the tape measure to measure items at the park and compare the lengths. What is longer, shorter, or the same? Make it a challenge! For example, if you measure a flower that is 12 inches tall, challenge your child to find something that is taller or shorter than the flower. Consider bringing a ball with you, throwing the ball, and measuring how far your child can throw it! Your child could also bring a notepad and pen for recording and organizing information. The park is a great place to get outdoors, be active, and incorporate math into our everyday surroundings. 

9 – Make a Book Box

Use any shoebox or cardboard box, cut it down to the size you need, and let your children decorate it to create a book box! Your children will have more fun reading with this book box because they will take ownership of it. Be sure to make it a size that your children can carry on their own. Then, they can find a cozy spot to read outside, in a treehouse, on a blanket, in a tent, wherever they would like! Ensuring that they have a book box they can decorate and fill on their own will get them excited about summer reading time. Also, encourage them to switch out the books from time to time!

The Monthly Mini Books resource offers mini booklets that students can fold, color, and read all on their own. They are the perfect size for book boxes and there are 5 themed books for each month! It’s also a great idea to continue practicing sight words while reading, so consider using 100 Sight Word Booklets in your children’s book boxes as well. The 100 booklets each focus on a different sight word. Give your children the “I Can Read Anywhere” challenge and encourage them to try some different reading spots throughout the summer!  

Activity 10 – Summer Packet

 There will be some rainy days or days that are too hot to go outside and setting up a work or desk space for your children is a great idea! However, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could even just be their own box of school supplies (crayons, pencils, markers, scissors, and glue). They can grab those school supplies, sit down in their workspace and have some fun with the Summer Packet. The Summer Packet is FULL of engaging reading and math activities for your children and will help ensure that they stay on track with all of the academic skills they learned this past year!

11 – Rock Painting 

Rock painting has become really popular the last few summers and there are a lot of cute ideas with ladybugs, bumblebees, and all kinds of nature and art. There are many rock painting kits to choose from, or you can find your own rocks. Consider making the rock painting educational by painting the letters of the alphabet on the rocks and letting your children put them in order. Hide the letter rocks around the yard and send them on a letter scavenger hunt. Words can be painted on the rocks and then your children can put them in order to make a sentence. Want to make it math focused? Paint dots on some rocks and numbers on the others, and have children match the rocks. 

12 – Family Drawing Day

Children love to draw, but everything is more fun with a buddy or two right? Have you ever tried sitting down with your whole family and drawing together? Younger children will learn from the older children and the older children will learn from teaching and guiding the younger ones. You will be amazed at all of the beautiful drawings that are produced! If you need a little guidance, try our Directed Drawing Resource. With 100 directed drawings that include various themes, there is sure to be something for everyone! 

Activity 13 – Write a Book

Encourage your children to be authors!  Writing a book encourages children to use higher-level thinking skills and lets them use their imagination and be creative. Let your children pick the topic, characters, and setting. Offer them a little guidance by encouraging them to have a beginning, middle, and ending to the story. Focus on their ideas and creativity first before worrying too much about grammar and punctuation. Those details can come later. First, encourage them to get their ideas on paper for the initial draft. Writing a book can seem scary to students, so encouraging them to take that first step can really boost their confidence. Finally, be sure to let them share their story with family members or friends! 

14 – Take Photographs

Create a picture story of your summer adventures! Depending on the age of your children, consider giving them a camera (maybe even a disposable camera) and let them decide what to capture. However, if you would rather be the one using the camera, let them tell you what to photograph. Then, work together to create a photo album or scrapbook of your summer fun. 

15 – Sink or Float

Incorporate some science into a cool water activity. Fill a water table or even a large bucket with water. Next, have your children grab some things from around the house (that can get wet), and have discussions about what will sink or float and why. Then, test each item in the water! Finally, talk about why some items float and some do not. You could even encourage your children to create their own boats that float, which is one of the activities from our STEM Challenge Stories

 Activity 16 – Go on a Picnic

Let your children create the shopping and packing list for the picnic. Creating a list helps children organize their thoughts and it’s a great skill for them to learn at an early age! 

17 – Go to the Grocery Store TOGETHER

I know taking children to the grocery store can be a challenge! However, your children can learn SO much on these trips. Give them your list and let them help you cross the groceries off of the list as they are put in the cart. Consider letting them write the price next to the item and keep a running total of what they think the final amount will be! Have them help you compare the prices or ingredients of each item. Furthermore, you could have your children help you find the items on the shelf. Certainly, this trip might take a little longer than a solo trip to the grocery store, but it will be worth it! 

18 – Sight Word Hopscotch

Use sidewalk chalk to make a simple hopscotch game on the concrete. Instead of filling the boxes with numbers, fill them with sight words. Then, have your children read the sight words as they hop to them. 

Activity 19 – Count the Dive Sticks  

Incorporate math into all of those trips to the pool! I remember when my children were young, their favorite swimming activity was for me to throw the dive sticks and they would find them and bring them back to me. When your children bring back the dive sticks, encourage them to count the sticks and see how many they find each time. Take it one step further by using a permanent marker and numbering the dive sticks. As they find them, they can line them up on the side of the pool and then figure out which number is missing! Label the dive sticks by ones, twos, fives, or tens! Choose numbers that are a challenge for your children. 

20 – Seashell Numbers 

Taking a trip to the beach? Collect some seashells to bring home with you.  Maybe you already have a pile of seashells at home that you don’t know what to do with, or you can also purchase an assortment of seashells. Use a permanent marker to write numbers or letters on the seashells and encourage your children to mix them up and put them in order. If you have a sandbox or sand table, consider hiding the seashells in the sand for your children to find. Choose math and reading skills that are a challenge for your children. Write numbers by ones, twos, fives, or tens. Also, talk to your children about which numbers are bigger or smaller. 

21 – Sand Letters

Grab some magnetic, block, or foam letters (that you don’t mind getting a little dirty) and toss them in the sandbox. Another alternative to put in the sandbox are alphabet sand molds. Then, encourage your children to find the letters, name them, and put them in order.

Activity 22  – Summer Journal 

Give your children a journal at the beginning of the summer and designate 10 – 20 minutes each day as journal time. Children might be a little reluctant at the beginning of the summer, but by the end of the summer it will be a daily routine and they will be excited to have a place to put their thoughts and ideas. A journal doesn’t have to be expensive! It can be a simple notebook. Make it fun by using different pens, markers, stickers, etc. Consider letting your children select their own journal supplies and they will take ownership of their writing.

At the end of the summer, it will be fun to look back on all the summer writing and growth of your children. Consistency is key when writing. So, encourage your children to write EVERY day in his or her journal and encourage them to add more sentences each week to their journal writing. 

23 – Get a Head Start on Next Year 

Ask your children’s teachers for a list of the sight words for the upcoming school year. If your children have mastered all of the sight words for the current school year, then getting a jump start on next year’s words over the summer is a great idea! Use the sight words with the Editable Spelling resource. This resource lets you edit the words with ANY word list for over 60 fun and engaging sight word or spelling activities. Emoji Spelling, Word Art, Secret Code Spelling, Spelling Spirals, and Spelling Battleship are just a few of the many activities that Editable Spelling gives you. 

24 – My Home Learning Packet (link freebie)

Let your children spend some time working on the free Home Learning Packet. The packet is full of various printable math and reading activities. It’s a great way for them to practice and apply everything they learned at school this year. Perfect for a rainy day and it will help them be prepared for the next school year!

Activity 25 – Plant Seeds or Plants

Plant a garden, some flowers, seeds, plants, anything really! If you don’t have the space to plant a garden in your yard, let your child plant some seeds in a pot. There are many plants and herbs that are easy for kids to grow. Not only is this a wonderful science activity, but you can easily incorporate math into your planting as well! Give your children some paper and a pencil and have them measure and record their plant each day or each week. Talk about the growth of the plant, how tall it is getting, how much taller it is from the last time it was measured, and so on. Encouraging your children to record their observations will make them feel like scientists! 

Image Courtesy of: theherbexchange.com

Remember that learning can happen everywhere over the summer! Encouraging your children to read about things that they enjoy and write about their summer adventures, can keep them engaged and excited about learning new things.  Don’t forget to use the free printable checklist of summer learning activities to track the progress this summer. Also, look for opportunities to incorporate reading, writing, and numbers into all of your fun summer learning activities.

We are wishing you a summer full of learning fun with your families!

Written By: Sarah Cason

At Education to the Core, we exist to help our teachers build a stronger classroom as they connect with our community to find trusted, state-of-the-art resources designed by teachers for teachers. We aspire to be the world’s leading & most trusted community for educational resources for teachers. We improve the lives of every teacher and learner with the most comprehensive, reliable, and inclusive educational resources.

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