Last year I wrote about the benefit of creating an environment that cultivates learning year round.

Let me be clear. Like most moms, I do not have the time, energy, and resources to focus on all kinds of fulfilling enrichment activities all summer long. However, I am pretty passionate about the fact that they need some kind of mental stimulation here and there when they are out of school in the summer months. Every little bit helps in avoiding the summer slide and giving a jump start to the new school year.

A Johns Hopkins study of Baltimore Public Schools notes that low-income youths “lose more than two months in reading achievement” over summer vacation, while their middle-class counterparts make small gains in reading achievement. Regardless of income level, most students lose “two months of grade-level equivalency” in math skills every summer.

So here are a few of our favorite learning activities from this summer so far.


Science experiments

Lava lamp and bubble sock are two of our favorites.


Nature Center

These pics were some my dad took of the Homosassa Nature preserve in Florida.




This is when SJ went to the Cincinnati Aquarium with some friends.

img_4105National Park

More pictures from my dad of their tour of Mammoth Caves in Kentucky




Writing notes to friends and family

Most recently they made cards for their dad whose birthday is TODAY!

Story Cubes

This is a game where you roll the cubes and make a story out of the pictures. It’s so much fun. You could practice writing stories or just formulating ideas and telling them out loud.


Playing School

This is one of those incidental learning situations. I am sure it wouldn’t go as well if I iniated it but when the older kids teach the younger how to write everyone is practicing and it’s great! The chalk board marker board I got for $4 at the thrift store was money well spent.


Writing out instructions for Science experiments

A lot of boys (like my son) really love science but writing isn’t their strong suit. For several years Z has kept a private Science blog which is a way to incorporate writing with his favorite subject.

Last year Z’s friend did a guest post for me with his slime experiment and I hope to have Z do the same next week with a lava lamp tutorial.



We always participate in the Summer Reading Program at the library and the kids win prizes. You can imagine how thrilled I was to walk in and see this one night! A book lovers dream.


Here are some new books we discovered this summer

  1. Mustache Baby Meets His Match 51cai1qnbvl-_sx258_bo1204203200_
  2. A Hole in the Wall unknown
  3. Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboycvr9781442442764_9781442442764_lg
  4. Wonder (for 3rd grade and up)wonder_cover_art



A classic game that takes counting, addition, and even some multiplication.

Math apps on the iPad


Our favorite is Monster Math and it has levels for all ages.

Shut the Boximg_8182

I actually really enjoy this game. It’s so easy too. You just roll the dice, add them up, and turn over the number that you end up with. So if you roll a nine you can turn the 9 tab, or a 4 and 5, or the 8 and 1, or the 4, 3, and 2. The goal is to get all of the numbers turned over. When you have no more options you add up what is left.

Leap Frog Moviesleap-frog

For the younger learners, I recommend anything Leap Frog. This isn’t really summer learning fun, but I couldn’t think of anything else math related. Math is a toughie.

Those are just some of things we’ve done. I would like to be a little more proactive as we get closer to the new school year. Hopefully some of these give some helpful ideas for those wanting to bridge the summer gap in a fun way.