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Summer Enrichment for Kids

Summer Learning Activities for Elementary Students

Summer enrichment opportunities do not have to be intensive or cause any extra stress. Make your life easy and enhance your child’s education with simple activities you can do right in your own home.

According to a research study done by the Northwest Evaluation Association (the NWEA), students between third through eighth grade can suffer learning loss of 20 to 50 percent in reading each summer.

Whoa!  Those are some big percentages – and, whether or not those numbers are right for your child, it’s a great idea to step in and help them to avoid the summer brain drain where you can.

No doubt about it, kids sometimes need an extra push to maintain their new knowledge from the previous school year.  The summer learning activities for elementary students run the gamut from subject-to-subject.

But helping them doesn’t have to be complicated! 

In fact, EdSurge states that avoiding the summer slide is just a matter of keeping the resource faucet on and flowing. 

Here are a few simple ways we can offer summer enrichment right away!

Read Everyday:

The best “teacher advice” I can possibly offer to help skirt the summer slide is to have your child read every day.  And, if possible, have them read aloud! 

They’ll be working on fluency and reading comprehension at the same time. Reading fluency is defined as a child’s ability to read with proper expression, speed, and accuracy.  There are dozens of reading fluency activities available. Comprehension, of course, simply means they understand the text.

Not only will this help to stave off summer learning loss, but it’s a really good practice for the school year, too! 

As for what reading material you choose, it’s totally up to your family.   Maybe your reader loves magazines, or graphic novels!  Maybe they like the morning newspaper – or even reading captions on a muted TV.  Anything with text will work. 

(And don’t be afraid to let them choose books that are easy from time to time.  The same way we can love “chick lit” or a quick and simple beach read, kids can benefit from enjoying reading just for reading’s sake.)

This year, Barnes and Noble has a reading challenge for kids where, if they complete 8 books and complete a quick log, they can earn a FREE book from the list of choices. 

Pro tip: This log can be turned in several times, if you’ve got a little bookworm at home! 

Library Programs:

Many libraries offer fantastic programs for kids throughout the summer, so parents don’t have to worry about learning loss.  (They also have options during the school year for toddlers and homeschool families – or even later in the day for kids in school!)  This will give you a great opportunity to head inside to help your child check out books and take part in a neat event!

So far this summer, my littles have been able to catch a LEGO-STEM activity and a super silly, alien show put on by some of our friendly librarians.  Coming up, we have a presentation by the wildlife center and then an eco-center discussion.  (Super cool, right!?)

Also, be sure to check with your local branch to see if they’re doing anything to encourage independent reading over the next few months.  In our district, kids are logging their reading into a free app (on their parent’s phone or device).  The children who read a full 12 hours by the end of summer will earn a few free books and even be entered into a drawing for a Kindle! 

Take that, summer brain drain!

Life-Changing Tip:  Did you know you can borrow e-books from your local library?  This was a HUGE eye-opening discovery for me! 

The libraries in my county have a website where residents can borrow books and have them digitally delivered to any electronic device for 2 weeks.  #mindblown  This includes kids’ books and teen options, too!  Definitely take advantage, if you haven’t already.

Online Apps

Kids love technology, so why not let them learn while they’re playing?  There are a bunch of awesome resources out there for young readers to rock that summer enrichment, but these three are my family’s favorites:

  • EPIC Reading App
    • This is new to us this summer, but it has been a wonderful addition to our collection.  I love that there are books that are “read-to-me” where the child can listen and follow along in the text.  Having the opportunity to hear the words and to see them at the same time helps a child make text connections.
  • ABC Mouse
    • A great option for an all-around educational boost to avoid summer learning loss.  My oldest started this program when she was 3-years-old, but did most of her lessons in the 4-year-old range.  She loved to earn tickets for completing the assignments, so she could decorate her mouse’s space.  Anything to help make learning fun, right?
  • Reading Eggs
    • This was a big one for our kindergarten students this past year.  They used it each week in Centers and it was the go-to choice for “Free Choice FriYAY!”, so I know it’s a huge hit with the younger set.  The kids can complete quick lessons to boost letter knowledge, phonemic awareness, and phonics as they become stronger readers. 

Summer Workbooks

There are a lot of fantastic paper-pencil workbooks available for summer learning!  We like to mix and match a few books together to make weekly packets for the kids to complete.  This way, I can guarantee my littles are working on skills that a) interest them and b) will keep them focused.  (Have you ever noticed how some workbooks can become repetitive with the same lessons over-and-over?)

Here are a few of the workbooks I used this summer available on Amazon:

Right now, my 6-year-old is working on handwriting, as she has a tendency to flip a few of her numbers and letters around, as well as basic addition.  Her reading comprehension is pretty strong, so I don’t need to include all of those practice sheets.  But, for fun, several of her pages do have a dot-to-dot or coloring component.  

You know your child best (even better than their teachers!).  So, when you can, try to make those learning opportunities specific to your son or daughter for best results.

Play School with Younger Kids

You’ve heard it before, I’m sure, but:  “If you can teach it, you know it.”  When a child feels confident in a subject and is able to pass on their learning to another student (or sibling!), they reaffirm their own understanding. 

Think about those tricky concepts that your child was working on at the end of the school year and help them teach the neighborhood!    

If you can, motivate your kids to play “school” with one another.  Let them have a reading circle in the play room.  Use a white board to lead a classroom discussion.  You might even consider having snack time to make it really fun! 

And then, you can kiss that summer slide goodbye!

Write, Write, Write

Another excellent way to break through learning loss is to focus on reading’s best friend: writing!  You can do this via paper-and-pencil or with technology.

My daughter is not a huge fan of writing, so it can be tricky to get her to sit down and create a story.  So, I like to offer her special writing pages that have a place to illustrate her work.  That way, she can write a few sentences and then draw a picture.  That seems to sweeten the deal and gets her using her brain.

Free Worksheets Available HERE

Of course, any time that the kids can use mommy’s computer is also a win for them!  And they love trying their hand at typing.  So, give your little ones a chance to write a story on your laptop and watch their imaginations soar. 

You could easily make this a summer enrichment double-whammy by having your child handwrite their story first and THEN giving them a chance to use your computer.  Now, they’re using the creative process to write; they’re practicing their pencil grip and penmanship; and they’re working on computer skills.  WHOA.  #gosupermom  See ya later, summer brain drain!

Hands-on-Learning

Of course, education doesn’t always take place in a book.  Have some fun learning with your child through hands-on summer learning activities for elementary students.  These can range through countless subjects and do not have to stay focused on reading and math.

Are you local to Port Saint Lucie, Florida?  Head on over to Maker’s Art Studio to let your child make something and watch their creativity fly! 

Let Them Be Bored

Listen, you are not the cruise director.  You do not need to keep your kids entertained all summer long.  (Preaching to the choir on this one!)  And this can be a hard pill to swallow because, if you’re like me, hearing “I’m bored” can really drive you bonkers!  But, sometimes the best way to help your children to learn is to let them create on their own! 

Our brains are multi-faceted.  There is more to education than simple reading and math skills – and kids are the perfect age to soak it all up. 

  • Let them use their imaginations. 
  • Let them use space in a new way. 
  • Let them write new music or put on shows with their friends. 

All of this will help your child to be well-rounded and skip past any summer learning loss.

When you just can’t take it anymore, make one of these jars to help your kids bust through boredom. 

Get to It!

Okay, parents, we’ve still got several weeks to go before school starts.  You can do this!  And if you’re ready to start thinking about those lunches, I’ve got your back: 25 Ideas for School Lunches

It’s time to take action and help your child with that summer enrichment.  Are you ready?! 


Join us on Pinterest for more great ideas about heading back-to-school!

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About the Author

The Merry Kate

Katie Johansen is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University with her M.A.Ed in Children’s Literature.  She spent 6 years as an elementary school teacher in South Florida before transitioning to stay-at-home #momlife.  Now, it’s all things PB&J – with an extra large cup of coffee on the side.


Avoid the Summer Slide

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