Summer Activity Ideas from the Early Childhood Educators at Bennett Day School

Studies show that kids often experience a “summer slide” and lose knowledge gained during the school year, but summer is actually the perfect time for parents to engage kids in hands-on learning.
These ideas will keep those little brains working on basic math, science and literacy concepts! All of the following activities are easy ideas that anyone can implement with early learners.

1. Create with Sticks and Stones:

  1. Enjoy the challenge of creating musical instruments (such as shakers and drumsticks) using sticks, stones and natural objects in your area. Combine the natural materials with household items, such as pots and pans. Ponder why various objects make the sounds that they do.
  2. Find and collect fallen sticks or twigs that are the shapes of alphabet letters and numbers. Have fun wondering your collection has different amounts of letters. Older children may spell words and photograph them.
  3. Hammer a stick in a sunny spot in your yard and check on it throughout the day/week to notice the changing shadow line. Engage in conversation with your child about possible reasons why the shadow has moved when the stick does not. Try to photograph the different shadows as your child ponders and questions the science of light and shadow.

2. Build Newspaper Structures:
-       Newspaper
-       Masking Tape

  1. Place two pieces of newspaper on top of each other
  2. Roll them very tightly around a marker or pencil from one corner to the opposite corner to make a paper tube.  
  3. Secure the tube with masking tape.  Repeat until you have at least 8 or 10 tubes.
  4. Begin building! 

You can connect the tubes with masking tape to create forts, tents, or skyscrapers.  Pyramids are easy and sturdy to build, but the possibilities are endless.
When ready to dismantle the building, either store the tubes in an umbrella stand or basket for another day or recycle.

3. Make Homemade Bubble Solution:
-       Distilled water
-       Liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Joy or Dawn)
-       Light corn syrup

  1. Pour 6 cups distilled water into a plastic dishwashing tub. Then add 2 cups liquid dishwashing detergent and 3/4 cup light corn syrup to the tub. Let your child pour everything. When children are allowed to do things for themselves, they develop a sense of independence and positive self-concept. 
  2. Stir the ingredients with a large spoon until you blend them completely.
  3. To make bubble wands, untwist a wire coat hanger with pliers and straighten the coat hanger so it is a long, straight length of wire.

The more you make your own bubbles, push your child to explore what happens if you alter the solution a little.

4. Make Summer Smoothies
This activity will definitely be a fan favorite. Even the pickiest of eaters will love this Sunshine Smoothie.
Let your child pour the juice, scoop the yogurt, squeeze the honey and even cut the fruit during this activity. These everyday experiences will build their fine motor skills.
As you choose ingredients, encourage your child to sort the items and see how they classify their ingredients.
-       ½ cup baby carrots
-       ½ cup orange juice
-       1 cup frozen pineapple chunks
-       ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
-       ½ cup frozen mango chunks
-       1 tablespoon honey
Add all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. If you find the consistency of your smoothies to be too thick, add small amounts of water or milk until desired consistency is achieved. Each recipe yields about 4 (8 ounce smoothies)
*If using fresh fruit, add 1-2 cups of ice to the other ingredients before blending.

Keep in mind that summer learning can happen anywhere – from the grocery store, to the beach, to your own backyard. At Bennett Day School, we emphasize the concept of place-based learning, which is learning that uses your surroundings as opportunities for natural learning. We encourage our families to be inspired by the resources and material around them!

Visit the following for other resources for inspired summer learning activities:
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Elizabeth Foy Larsen
Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff by Scott Bedford
The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson