Tag: activities for kids

Summer Slide Prevention Tips for Parents

Summer Slide Prevention Tips for Parents

Are you looking for summer slide prevention tips? Help your kids keep their academic skills sharp by making learning fun all summer long!

What is the Summer Slide?

The human brain is not meant to retain every piece of information it ever encounters. In fact, our brains regularly “prune” unused bits of data. When we go weeks or months without accessing historical dates, geography, or vocabulary words, the brain assumes we are done with that information and it disappears forever.

Young children especially need repetition and consistency to retain important details like math facts and sight words. When they take an entire summer off from learning, they can lose ground and have to work harder to “catch up” in the fall.

Students who continue reading, writing, and practicing their math skills over the school break can actually move forward with their learning, making the back to school transition even easier. In all of my research on the subject, it seems like there is momentum one way or the other — our brains don’t just sit still. We are all either going forward or falling back…

Preventing the Summer Slide

Preventing the Summer Slide

Summer slide prevention has become a bit of an industry over the past few years. There are workbooks and flashcards, websites, and tutoring centers all designed to help our children find academic success. And while these resources can be helpful for some students, most children need just 15-20 intentional minutes each day to keep their skills sharp.

On a website called “Rolling Prairie Readers,” I’m sure you would guess that we make time for reading every day. Not only do I allow my girls to choose their own books at the library, I also bring home a big stack of non-fiction and picture books that go along with our monthly theme.

Both of my kids are focusing on one specific subject this summer. My youngest is working her way through a handwriting book because she needs more practice with a pencil. My oldest is brushing up on her math skills with our online CTC Math subscription.

We are traveling a few different places this summer as well. We took a boat ride down the Mississippi River right after school got out, and we plan on visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum in Mansfield, Missouri in just a few weeks. We’re also spending quality time in both Narnia and Hogwarts, via our audiobook selection at the library. 😉

Making Learning Fun for Kids

If you’re concerned about preventing the summer slide for your kids, I have a few tips for you:

  • Visit the library at least twice a month. Stock up on books your kids will want to read, even if that’s joke books, graphic novels, or the latest undercover princess goes to spy school novel in the new releases section. Grab a few audiobooks that might be slightly above your child’s reading level and make time to listen to them together. Sign up for the summer reading program and reward your child for getting in 15 minutes a day.
  • Choose one academic skill to work on this summer. Whether it’s handwriting or math facts, creative writing or STEM, commit to spending an hour or less each week on moving your child forward in one area where they typically struggle.
  • Research one of your child’s areas of interest. Study the first walk on the moon or a major historical figure. Visit an art museum in your area or learn more about native plants at a nature center. Go hiking, fishing, boating, or camping — something hands-on that your child will really enjoy!

Awesome Learning Ideas for Kids

Unit studies are a great way to make learning fun all summer long! You can get six of our most popular family activity guides for just $27 to keep your children entertained AND learning during the school break. Or, you can click here to have me create a personalized learning plan specifically for your child’s unique needs.

Making learning fun at home and preventing the summer slide is easier than you’d think! Start with good books, add in some hands-on learning, and finish off with a few family adventures.

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Summer Slide Prevention Tips for Parents

Summer Learning for Kids {FREE Printables}

Summer Learning for Kids {FREE Printables}

Summer is here! Are you ready? These practical tips about summer learning for kids will help you set up a season full of fun, hands-on play. Whether you have toddlers, preschoolers, or school-age kids, you can make this summer the best one yet!

Name Your Why

  • Are you a work-at-home parent, looking for independent activities so you can get your to-do list done?
  • Maybe your kiddo needs a little extra support during the summer to get ready for next school year?
  • Or perhaps you just want to spend time making family memories than planning them?

If your kids are anything like mine, you might want to go into the summer with a few planned activities in your back pocket. We certainly intend to have lots of unstructured free play, outside time, and afternoons at the pool — but we also know that TOO much downtime can lead to bickering and frustration for everyone.

Our Fun Summer Learning Plans

Every summer, I like to choose a few themes to guide our family summer learning. This year, we’ll be spending a month on space exploration to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. We’ll also be doing a habitat study about deserts and jungles, learning about plants and animals, weather, and more.

Throughout the summer, we’ll be reading good books, going on fun family adventures, and experiencing hands-on sensory play and science experiments together.  And you can follow along with our summer learning on our Instagram feed!

Summer Learning Activities for Kids

Planning Your Own Summer Learning {FREE Printables!}

  • When I put together a themed learning unit, I like to start with the library. I open our library website and search for books related to the topic. We know we can count on authors like Anne Rockwell, Gail Gibbons, Leo Lionni, Eric Carle, and more. I also like to take my girls into the non-fiction section so they can experience the research process.
  • Once I have a large stack of books, I grab a sheet of paper and start jotting down activity ideas. I typically use the following categories to get started:
    • literacy
    • math
    • fine motor
    • gross motor
    • creative play
    • arts & crafts
  • Then, I open up a Pinterest and create a new board for the theme. I usually search for activities that don’t come naturally to me, like creative play and arts & crafts.
  • I make a list of any additional materials I need to pick up on my next run to the store.
  • Finally, I type up all the activities and print off a copy for the fridge.

Each weekend, I make a family schedule for the coming week. I look at the open pockets of time and choose 5-7 ideas from the activity guide as a “back-up” for the bored or bickering moments. Since my girls are old enough to have an opinion, I usually ask them which activities they would like try and make sure that we do those first. 🙂

As a working mom, I also make sure to select a variety of options — something we can do together, something my kids can do independently, a literacy-based activity, something open-ended, and something we can do outside!

I print off any handouts, gather materials, and put everything in one spot so it’s easy to grab whenever we need it. I also like to leave a stack of related books next to the couch for my kids to peruse whenever they have a free minute.

Summer Learning Printables!

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

Are you looking for quiet activities for your toddler or preschooler this summer? Our red, white, and blue busy box might be just the thing for your family!

If you’ve been around the Rolling Prairie Readers community for any length of time, you know I’m a big fan of learning through play. I also talk a lot about creating invitations to play for our little ones.

Open-ended play is important for children because it builds independence, creativity, executive function skills, and — most importantly — attention spans. It’s easy for kids to focus on the things they want to do, and putting together a busy box gives children a buffet of options to choose from.

Red, White, and Blue Busy Box for Kids

How to make a red, white, and blue busy box:

  • First, grab a shoe box or small container.
  • Walk around the house and grab red and blue objects.
  • Set the box in a place where your kiddo is likely to find it.

Everyone’s busy box will look different, based on what toys you have available at home. Personally, I like to choose objects that mix and match nicely and build fine motor skills.


See our must-have toys for learning at home!


 

For this red, white, and blue busy box, I grabbed:

  • pom poms
  • tweezers
  • silicone cupcake liners
  • Velcro craft sticks
  • one-inch foam cubes
  • straw pieces and a Parmesan cheese container
  • dyed noodles and a shoelace
  • red and blue UNO cards (0-9 only)
  • Unifix cubes
  • linking rings

My tactile learner has been very active with this busy box already. I’ve found her stringing noodles, putting the UNO cards in numerical order, and dropping straw pieces in the cheese container. She often plays with the items during read-aloud time because having something small in her hands helps her listen better.

The red, white, and blue busy box also came with us when we traveled to visit with family a few weeks ago. I don’t typically like to bring a lot of toys with us when we stay in a hotel, but this box fit easily in our trunk and kept her occupied when we needed it.


See 100 more tactile ideas for kids.


If you try a busy box for your kids, I would love to see it! Snap a picture and send it to me on Instagram. For more summer fun, be sure to check out our list of patriotic books and learning activities.

You can also grab our Summer Survival Kit, which features more than 200 hands-on learning activities and our sensational summer schedule template!