Summer’s finally upon us, bringing school kids throughout Georgia a welcome reprieve from hours of studying and homework assignments. But while the break is great to help recharge their academic batteries, the lack of schooling for a few months can often set kids behind—what some have come to call the summer slide. So if you’ve been wondering what you can do this summer to keep your kids on track, we’ve got some fun educational ideas that you can try at home or around the City of Atlanta. Here are six ways to keep kids excited about learning this summer.
Stay sharp with a math scavenger hunt.
When you think about it, math is all around us all the time. Whether you’re indoors, driving through traffic or enjoying the fresh air at your favorite park, the world is always presenting itself in mathematical terms, be it shapes, distances, times or amounts. A math scavenger hunt is a simple way to harness your surroundings for a fun learning experience.
For young children, try giving them a list of shapes they can find in their environment and then have them draw those objects on a sheet of paper. For instance, what things are circles? Can they draw three examples? How many things look like triangles, squares, cones and cylinders? With a little creativity, this idea can be adapted for older students as well, using measurement or even having them discover clues after solving simple equations. And it’s a great way for them to tie math to the real world. If you need a hand getting started, here are a few helpful links for inspiration:
- How to Play Treasure Hunt: Fun Math Card Game
- Free Shapes Scavenger Hunt Printables for Simple Math Fun
- 25 Scavenger Hunts For Kids To Try At Home Or In The Classroom
Investigate the science of animals—in person or virtually.
Science is often a popular topic with kids, especially when it involves learning about the secretive ways of animals. Zoo Atlanta’s Survival Safari offers just that: an evening of team challenges, scavenger hunts and other interactive activities focused on the habits of nocturnal animals. Programs run throughout the summer from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. —reservations are required.
If you can’t make it out to the zoo, try hopping online and checking out Zoo Atlanta’s PandaCam for a candid look at the fascinating lives of giant panda bears. The zoo’s website also features regular blog updates on the pandas, as well as general information on the bears’ habits and biology.
If you’re more into ocean ecology, take your kids on a trip to the Georgia Aquarium, also located in Atlanta. From sharks and dolphins to sea lions and stingrays, you and your kids will be amazed at the up-close encounters the Georgia Aquarium offers. Or take a virtual tour, for an experience less intense. Like Zoo Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium features live webcam footage of some of its creatures.
Explore creativity, organizational skills and feelings through writing.
Whether you’ve got a kindergartner or a first-year high school student, writing is a crucial skill that always needs to be worked on. Summer breaks present a unique opportunity for kids to hone this craft, which they’ll use for the rest of their lives in one form or another. But they might need a little encouragement.
If you’re planning a trip, try having them write an agenda for a day’s activities. Or better yet, inspire them to journal about their experiences of the trip—what they saw and learned, who they met and how it made them feel. Summer is also a great time to establish pen-pals, whether writing emails to friends they miss over the break or even traditional mailed letters to family members they don’t see often. If your kids are feeling adventurous, they can even reach out to other kids they don’t know in different parts of the world—click here for a few resources to help kids connect.
Dig into the nature of plant biology.
Mother nature is one of our best teachers. And plants are some of her best tools when it comes to learning. For a fun flora adventure, take your kids to Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Lou Glenn Children’s Garden. The Children’s Garden, which features an array of beautiful plant life, regularly holds educational music performances, interactive learning activities, summer camps and other botanical activities. It opens at 9 a.m. and closes at dusk, Tuesday – Sunday.
If you’re looking for a more long-term experience, try starting a garden with your child. It will help them learn more about the wonderful world of plants—how we’re dependent upon them for food and why they’re essential to the health of the planet’s ecology. Click here for a helpful article on the topic.
Encourage and inspire them to keep reading.
Reading is, perhaps, the most important skill to master for children, as it’s needed to learn about all the other exciting subjects taught in school. Kids are often assigned summer reading, especially as they get older, but the extra free time during summer break can give them a chance to explore specific topics they’re interested in. Not every child is a fan of fiction, after all. Some may prefer reading books and articles that teach them facts about science, history and art.
If your child is still in the early reading stages, take time to read with them. And talk about what you’ve read—it’s even helpful to act out various stories and scenes. If you need a little help from the pros, check out your local public library. Most have summer reading programs designed for different age ranges. And don’t forget the myriad of online resources available today. We’ve put together a few that might help:
- Summer Reading Charts & Games (Pre-K – 6th)
- The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Kids Ages 9 – 12
- 7 Fun Summer Books for Reluctant readers in Grades 9 – 12
- Ten Awesome Science Books For Curious Kids
Delve into Georgia’s natural history.
Georgia has countless natural history sites to explore and learn about, but one of our favorites is Okefenokee Swamp Park, located in Waycross, Georgia. As one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems, the Okefenokee Swamp offers a rich experience of America’s natural heritage. Visitors can see alligators, turtles, woodpeckers, storks and even the rare and endangered indigo snake—to name but a few—in their natural habitats. The Okefenokee Swamp Park, open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., features wilderness trails, boat tours, wildlife shows and short train tours of a pioneer family homestead.
As a company that gives 5% back to support children in the communities we serve, we’re proud to offer even more support through helpful resources and ideas. We hope this blog helps inspire you this summer.