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50 Ways to Celebrate Summer Learning

by Cheryl Allen

Summer is a time of more daylight, warmer temperatures, and more time outdoors. We may think that, for children who are out of school in the summer, it is not a time of learning. Yet, it can be an incredible time of learning. Here are fifty ways to help your child learn and grow while not in school.


1. Let your child plan an activity for the day or some activities for the summer. They can use maps, stick to a budget, and do the research.

2. Go on a searching hike, in nature or an urban setting; look for objects in the shapes of the letters in your name, or in sets of your favorite number, or particular colors.

3. Learn about the plants and animals that are near you. What are those birds by your home? What are the names of the plants you see every day?

4. Walk at your child’s pace. Notice the smells of different plants, admire the bugs, follow your child’s lead.

5. Play board games.

6. Learn card or magic tricks.

7. Learn jokes and present a comedy show.

8. Play unplugged games, such as Hangman, your own version of Pictionary, I Spy, or other paper-and-pencil games.

9. Think of free or inexpensive ways you could help neighbors and act on them.

10. Create a scavenger hunt and follow the clues.

11. Try out new playgrounds nearby.

12. Go to a grocery store you do not usually go to, especially if it has a focus on an ethnicity different than your usual cooking.

13. Allow time for daydreaming.

14. Try outdoor science experiments.

15. Plan a dream vacation.

16. Find some art to admire, outside or in a museum. Discuss what each person likes about it.

17. Explore distances and make a map. How far are you from family members, favorite types of animals, friends, or any other thing that can be mapped?


18. Make time for reading every day, or nearly every day.

19. Visit the library and allow your child to make choices of reading material on their own.

20. Encourage your child to tell a friend or a family member about a book they read; retelling helps develop understanding.

21. Write letters to friends and family.

22. Address the envelope for that letter. Writing the address correctly on an envelope takes practice.

23. Keep a summer journal or a travel journal. Write in it regularly and include printed photos, pressed flowers, or leaves, ticket stubs, maps, or any reasonably flat items that remind them of the events written about.

24. Have your child create lists for things to do, grocery lists, books read or books to read, movies to watch, anything that can be listed.

25. Write a letter to their future self and store it or use a site that will email you in a certain amount of time.

26. Create a kindness list; how many acts of kindness can be performed this summer?

27. Count cars, bikes, dogs, flowers, anything you see regularly in your travels.

28. Find letters of the alphabet or make up a silly sentence using letters or words on items in the grocery store. Only one word or letter per item!


29. Build a design of your child’s own creation or follow the directions from a set, with Legos™, blocks, or other building materials.

30. Learn to build card houses.

31. Plan and build a birdhouse.

32. Make your own playdough and sculpt with it.

33. Water down paint, place paper outside, and use squirt guns filled with the watery paint for a creation.

34. Set up objects outside and trace their shadows onto paper.

35. Put on a show–write it, practice it, design costumes and props, and perform for others. Record the show to share it with family that cannot attend in person.

36. Use chalk to draw outside, then use water and a scrub brush to erase it.

37. Plan dinner for a night and help make it.

38. Make a salad. Make dressing to go with it for an extra skill-building opportunity.

39. Grow vegetables and harvest them for dinner.

40. Find a recipe and cook with a new-to-you food.

41. Shuck corn, peel potatoes, wash, and spin lettuce dry, participate in cooking preparation.

42. For older children, set a cooking challenge to use ingredients and make a meal.

43. Sketch or paint flowers at your home or a nearby location.

44. Draw self-portraits directly on the mirror using window markers.

45. Clean the mirror after drawing on it.

46. Wash windows (an adult may need to wash the top).

47. Water the garden or potted plants.

48. Organize an area of your home together, especially one that your child uses regularly.

49. Explore with cash, count coins, save for an item, buy something with cash and check the change received.

50. Make leaf or bark rubbings and label them with the type of tree or bush they came from. •

Cheryl Allen is the Associate Coordinator of the Montessori Family Alliance and is also a parenting educator and a Montessori consultant with the Montessori Foundation. Cheryl attended Montessori school as a child. After some time as a traditional Secondary teacher, she worked in Montessori classrooms, 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12, earning certifications from both AMS (3-6 and 6-9) and IMC (6-12). She is a teacher educator, workshop presenter, and member of IMC accreditation teams. Cheryl’s two children attended Montessori from age two through high school graduation.