With the traditional school year calendar coming to a close, I’m sure there are a lot of parents wondering how to entertain their kids over the summer and avoid the summer slide. My kids are on a year-round calendar, but every time they track out I try to plan a bunch of educational activities for them to do, especially to cover some of the areas I feel they don’t have a lot of time for while they’re tracked in.
Here are some of my best ideas for things to schedule into those long summer days to keep the kids thinking and learning:
- Create a personalized learning program online for free at Khan Academy.
- Have kids help budget a family vacation.
- Cook or bake together and talk about units of measurement. Double or cut a recipe in half or thirds for an extra challenge.
- Have the kids use a ruler or measuring tape to measure items around the house, a protractor to measure angles, or have a shape scavenger hunt.
- Sign up for a class on Outschool.
- Take family surveys and make pie charts and graphs with the data.
- Put together puzzles or build items with tangrams.
- Shop mindfully together as a family. Go to the grocery store and bring a calculator along. Compare prices and add up the total of what you put in the shopping cart. Discuss the importance of budgeting.
- Play a strategy or math-based game. Monopoly and Life are great for learning about money.
- Learn about stocks and “invest” imaginary amounts in different stocks. Chart how each stock does for a week or two.
- Set up a lemonade stand or a pretend store to learn about making change or using a calculator.
- Take a family trip to our local museums and zoo: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Life and Science Museum in Durham, Marbles Kids Museum, North Carolina Zoo, Greensboro Science Center, and the Morehead Planetarium (after June 18th, they are currently under renovation).
- Go to a local farm like Winterpast Farm or My Happy Place.
- Sign up for a class at Science Safari.
- Go gem mining at Blue Diamond Gemstone Panning or Treasure Quest Mining and learn more about rocks and gems.
- Make a recipe for fluffy, magnetic slime or bubble mix.
- Find things in the yard to examine under a microscope.
- Catch and study fireflies or dig in the garden for insects and worms.
- Raise and release butterflies, ladybugs, ants, or praying mantises with a kit from Insect Lore.
- Plant seeds and grow a garden. Study the plants in your yard. Which are poisonous? Which can be used medicinally?
- Download an app like Picture This to identify plants or Sky View to learn about constellations.
- Make homemade bubble soap and experiment making bubbles with different items (ie. string, a cut off water bottle, etc.)
- Visit a virtual reality location like Augmentality Labs.
- Take a class at Code Ninjas.
- Learn to code online at Code.org.
- Buy Google Cardboard or a similar viewer to take trips around the world or under the sea using free virtual reality apps.
- Enjoy a family outing to one or of our local Art Museums. Visit North Carolina Museum of Art, Nasher Museum of Art, Gregg Museum of Art or CAM Raleigh. Check out our post on Making Art Museum Visits Fun and Educational for Triangle-Area Kids. Don’t forget to visit local art exhibits at the Cary Arts Center and Page-Walker.
- Take art supplies or a camera to a local garden to be inspired.
- Try out a new medium from Jerry’s Artarama or a craft store like AC Moore.
- Watch a youtube video to learn how to sew, crochet, or watercolor.
- Create a sculpture using only recycled items or decorate a recycled box to be a fort or castle.
- Take in a North Carolina Symphony concert like the free one at Koka Booth Amphitheatre on the fourth of July.
- Visit a summer theater production at DPAC (Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts) or a local company like Paperhand Puppet Intervention.
- Check out a concert at Koka Booth, PNC Arena, or Red Hat Amphitheater or see who is performing at a food truck or arts festival. Waverly Place in Cary hosts a Wind Down Wednesday free concert series starting June 5th.
- Study film making techniques and try making a stop-motion film with legos or making and editing a movie in iMovie.
- Put on a play or practice for a recital at your next family gathering.
- Use an app like Garage Band to compose music or build instruments using recyclables, beans, or rubber bands.
- Practice magic and card tricks learned on youtube and put on a neighborhood magic show.
- Listen to a performance of Peter and the Wolf to learn the sounds of different instruments. Try identifying those instruments in other classical music.
- Visit one of the must-see historic sites in the Triangle mentioned in Preserving the Past for the Future- National Historic Preservation Month.
- Have kids draw a map of their neighborhood, follow a “treasure map” of locations in downtown Raleigh, or follow a trail map on a hike through Umstead or another local park.
- Read biographies of interest at a bookstore or library. The “Who Was” series and Ordinary People Change the World series by Brad Meltzer are fantastic.
- Try a new ethnic cuisine at a local restaurant or food truck rodeo.
- Have older kids plan a virtual vacation and plan a trip to a location of their choice. Have them research the cost to travel there, historic sites to visit, and make photoshop themselves into pictures to write a scrapbook of their experience.
- Download a language app, watch youtube videos, or borrow language CDs from the library to learn a new language as a family.
- Visit a cultural festival like the NC Japan Summer Festival on August 3rd or the African American Cultural Festival during Labor Day weekend.
- Visit different libraries around town every two weeks so you return your books on time. (Did you know that Wake County Library books can be returned to any location?) Be sure to check out their free library activities like story times or book clubs.
- Sign up for a summer reading challenge.
- Download the free Libby app on a kid-friendly device for independent reading or download audios to listen to as a family in the car.
- Visit local book stores like Quail Ridge Books, Read With Me, or Mr. Mike’s Used Books.
- Read books aloud together as a family. Classics like Charlotte’s Web, Peter Pan, or Harry Potter can appeal to lots of ages. Have older kids take turns reading.
- Keep a journal of your family vacation.
- Have kids write a story or comic book to share with the family.
- Keep a word wall of new words young students learned to read or spell, or new vocabulary words older students found in their reading.
- Make youtube videos of kids reading books to other kids or use an audio recording app to make your own books on CD.
- Start a book club with some friends from school and plan to get together once a month for book discussions and play.
- Try something new together inspired by a book you’re reading. Paint a fence like Tom Sawyer, make homemade chocolate bars while reading Willy Wonka, or make homemade butter or cheese like Laura Ingalls Wilder.
- Visit a new playground (Kids Together, Pullen Park, Laurel Hills Park/Sassafras All Children’s Playground, Jack Smith, and Penny Road are favorites of ours).
- Check out one of these 8 Kid Friendly Hikes in the Triangle.
- Try out a new sport like tennis or volleyball.
- Have family cornhole, croquet, or bocce matches.
- Go swimming at a neighborhood pool or gym or check out a public pool or free swim at Goldfish Swim School.
- Find new places to ride bikes, scooter, or roller skate. Try out a skateboard at the Apex Skate Park.
- Sign up and train for a 5K together as a family.
- Visit climbing rocks at Jack Smith Park or North Cary Park, or visit Triangle Rock Club.
- Visit an open gym at a gymnastics school or find a drop-in dance class like the ones offered at Premier School of Dance.
- Go to a Durham Bulls game to learn the rules of the game then try out hitting, catching, and running the bases at a local park.
- Build a backyard obstacle course. Show kids how to use a stopwatch and record race times on a chart.
- Bounce the day away at a trampoline park like Defy Apex.
- Attend a North Carolina Courage soccer game at WakeMed Soccer Park, then visit a local park to try out some new soccer moves.
- Cool off at the Polar Ice House learning to ice skate, or try out roller skating at Jellybeans.
- Try aerial silks or trapeze at Cirque de Vol.
- Use our Outdoor Summer Bucket List with 20+ Activities and start exploring the Raleigh-area!
Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas for providing fun and academically enriching activities for your kids this summer. Share your ideas or let us know which of these ideas you tried in the comment section below.