Over the summer, many students experience the "summer slide" phenomenon and lose both cognitive and academic gains from the prior school year. In fact, those who are already behind can be the ones that stand to lose the most. However, this doesn't have to be the case! With as little as an hour a day, students can maintain and even improve their knowledge and abilities. So what can we do to help our young learners fight the slide and make significant gains while having fun?
12 Activities that Help Children Improve Learning and Cognition Over Vactions
- Design a fun learning nook with your house for your children, and have fun coming up with an imaginative name for this magical space such as Penelope's Princess Palace, Bobby's Boisterous Bungalow, Hal's Happy Hideout, Amy's Adventure-filled Attic, Ian's Imaginative Igloo... This can be created in a loft, in a tent, under an elevated bed or table etc. Use pillows, drapes, Christmas lights, stuffed animals, and pack it with fun books, activities, and other learning resources. CLICK HERE for some fun resources.
- Find fun apps and websites that kids can play on Ipads and computers. CLICK HERE for a list of online resources. CLICK HERE for a list of app resources.
- Designate a specific time each day where the whole family gets together to have a "love, learn, and laugh hour." You can work together on a project, play an educational game or work individually on your own project.
- Go to educational places like the science museum, the planetarium, aquarium, nature center, etc.
- Arrange an "adventure" or "exploration" and take pictures or collect objects from nature. Afterward, have fun looking up the names of each item and learn about them.
- Create learning stations such as "Magical Mathematics, Whoopee Words, Spectacular Science, Brain Busters..." Fill each station with activities and resources. CLICK HERE for some fun resources.
- If math is difficult, work together to create a math manual. Create a fun and enticing title for the project and use images, define the sequence of steps required to complete a problem, integrate memory strategies, and most of all use lots of color and art supplies. This can also be done for reading, fine motor weaknesses, or other areas of difficulty.
- Sign students up for fun programs like The Khan Academy.
- Write a family summertime newsletter or blog that can be shared with friends and family. Let your children be a part of taking images, videos, writing articles, and more. You can do this for free on Blogger, or sites like Edublogs and Kidblog that offer teachers and students free blog space and appropriate security.
- Have fun making cool things. Instead of purchasing games and items, make your own out of recycled materials. Some possible ideas are to create an obstacle course, a fairy wand, candles, origami...
- Teach your children about giving back to the community by picking up litter, volunteering with an animal rescue organization, visiting the sick or elderly, feeding the homeless, or pull weeds at a community garden.
- Integrate learning into everyday activities. For example, you can teach about measurements when baking together, or allow your child to help you balance your bank account. Even a boring chore, such as food shopping, can be fun when kids are in charge of cutting coupons, making grocery lists, and collecting the needed items.
If you can think of other fun ideas, resources or links, feel free to share them by commenting on this blog post.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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