Every year, one of the things parents ask teachers is how to keep their children learning over the summer. Sure, we want our kids to have fun, play outdoors, and explore during their time away from school, but we also want to make sure the academic progress they have made over the year does not go away during the hot summer months. While it is tempting (and easy) to go pick up a workbook for your child’s next academic year, there are so many other engaging resources available to families that can motivate and inspire as well as foster critical thinking in our children.
Chalk Walk App
Chalk Walk was developed by an early childhood educator named Frances Judd, who taught kindergarten for 25 years. Chalk Walk is geared to help young preschool and Kindergarten children develop their important pincer grip. Chalk Walk is available at iTunes App Store for the iPad, for $3.99, and is ideal for children ages 3-7.
The Ruckus Reader is a computer and app based program that uses a unique series of digital storybooks (some are even free) designed to help your child practice important reading skills AND keep you up to date on your child’s progress. All of the stories and interactive activities are developed by educational experts to adhere to national educational standards for preschool through second grade. The books are leveled so that you can pick books that fit your child’s reading level and the developers have teamed with places like Sea World to create multi media experiences that have not just great books, but also embedded videos and more to enhance a child’s reading comprehension. I am especially exited about some of the activities that foster critical thinking like Complete the Story and Find the Difference.
Scholastic Summer Challenge
From May 1 to August 31, kids can also register for the Scholastic Summer Challenge and log their reading minutes to help break the Scholastic world record for summer reading. To keep kids motivated, there is a virtual prize wheel kids can spin to earn and collect fun rewards. Parents can check their kids’ reading progress, and they can access book lists for all ages and daily reading tips provided by the literacy experts at Scholastic.
iVillage PBS Kids Summer Reading Challenge
More reading resources are available from PBS Kids with the help of favorite PBS characters. Several printables (reading logs, story sheets, stickers, and activity ideas. PBS Kids has teamed with iVillage and Scholastic to provide literacy building tips and activities for parents and even prizes for kids.
ThinkFun Rush Hour is a fabulous game for critical thinking and logic. The goal of the game is to get the red car out of a a traffic jam and off the board in as few movers as possible. Think Fun, the game developer, has many options for this game ranging from sets whose cars are bigger for younger fingers, to expert sets with more cards than you will ever know what to do with. There is also an app for iPhone and iPad use.
Rory’s Story Cubes
Fabulous for inspiring creativity, great as a family game, and useful to help inspire writing, Rory’s Story Cubes are a versatile game and resource for all ages. Children can roll the dice and do things like use the images to tell a story, to draw a picture, or to create riddles. These cubes are limitless in their possibilities.
Reading & Writing
There is no substitute for picking up a book and reading and taking a pencil in hand to write, EVERY day. Our children do this in school, day after day, for 180 days out of the year. They should be doing it in the summer too. If you are not sure what books might be good for your child, think about what they are interested in. What lights them up? Magazines like National Geographic Kids or Sports Illustrated for Kids are great reads for children that have those interests, like biographies or historical fiction books would be appropriate for students that like to learn aboout people and historical times.
In truth, the important thing about summer learning is to keep it fun, motivating, and authentic. Learning can happen on a walk in a park, at the grocery store, in a museum, or during a road. Teaching our children to be lifelong learners is one of the best gifts we can ever give them.
What other resources do you use to keep summer learning going for your children?
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free 6 month subscription to Ruckus Reader and a download for the Chalk Walk app. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own and based on my personal experiences as a mom and educator. Affiliate links are included.