Summer Learning Tips for Elementary School Students
Page 1 of 2Have you ever stopped to think about ways to help your child get better prepared for the start of the new school year—by practicing the skills that he or she has learned during the summer months? Well, now is the time! You've already got a list of summer reading books from your child's teacher to keep the juices flowing. But what about all those other subjects your child will have to jump back into come back-to-school time—science, math, history and social studies? This list can help you keep your young child learning during your quality time together this summer. Show them how easy and fun it can be to explore and learn more about the world that's right at their fingertips!
Science and Math
Turn simple activities into science experiments.
- Encourage hypothesizing by asking lots of open-ended questions during everyday activities, like taking a bath. (What will happen when you put different objects in water—soap, a sock, a shampoo bottle. Which ones will float? Which ones will sink? Why or why not?)
- Bring a bird or tree identification book along with you when you go for a walk through the park and ask your child to identify what he or she sees.
- Grow a houseplant together. Water the plant with your child, and have your child choose a place in the house with plenty of sunshine for it to live. As it grows, show your child how to remove dead leaves, fertilize and re-pot the plant.
Make the most out of a trip to the museum.
- Ask questions about what you see to increase your child's scientific vocabulary. (What does the botanical garden look like? In which part of the world can these gems or minerals be found? What dinosaur is the biggest?)
- Create at-home, hands-on projects to accompany your experience in the museum. (After a trip to the aviation museum, help your child put together an inexpensive model airplane.)
- Go on a treasure hunt! Make a scavenger hunt out of your visit by creating a list of “Treasure” to find (e.g., a precious gem, an image or diorama of a foreign land or earlier time, a fossil), and work together to check off the list.
Practice estimating skills around the house.
- Ask your child to estimate the weight of common objects in the house (e.g., a can of beans, the family cat, a stack of books), then have your child weigh them to see how close his or her guess was to the actual weight.
- For an added challenge, practice converting pounds to ounces and other units of measurement.
- Color code measuring cups and spoons, marking the ¼ teaspoon and ¼ cup red, and the ½ teaspoon and ½ cup blue. Adding visual clues can help them to identify similar measurements and fractions. The next time you're in the kitchen, have your child help you measure out the ingredients by using these tools.
Use money to teach your child about math—and budgeting!
- Do you give your children allowance? Working with them to spend even a very small amount of money in a store can help them practice addition and subtraction (not to mention responsible spending habits!).
- Cook dinner or make a special dish for the family or an elderly neighbor. Ask your child to pick his favorite recipe to make and buy the items together in the grocery store. Challenge older children to do the math to double the recipe (and the budget) to serve your family as well!
- Teach your older child about tipping in restaurants. Many stationary stores sell charts that can help you and your child figure our how much to tip your server. Explain how and why you tip different people (e.g., waiters, bellhops, etc.), and when your child is old enough, practice calculating the tip.
Explore and learn online!
- PBS Zoom Science offers hands-on activities for kids in a variety of areas from life to chemical science.
- Brainy Kids offers a variety of activities to learn about the brain. This is a great site with games and activities for students in grades 3-9.
- Science Monster contains activities, lessons, and games for students, grades 6 and up.
- Fun Brain offers a variety of games and activities to help with learning math facts.
History and Social Studies
Travel the world, starting in your own town!
- Visit historical sites in your town. Check your town's visitor center or look online for undiscovered historical or cultural treasures nearby.
- Before eating at an ethnic restaurant or shop, have your child locate the country that you will “visit” on a map. (You can visit Italy, India and China all in one week!)
- Practice reading maps with your child. Map simple routes on local maps, like how to get to the closest grocery store, and then have your child follow the route on the map with his or her finger as you drive. Give your older child an address and have them map the route online and be in charge of navigating the route along the way.