Easy Summer Learning

Easy learning ideas to keep young minds active over the summer break.

Summer Slide

Summer learning loss is a problem most teachers are familiar with. A long break from the classroom means learning achievements from the previous year can start to slide.

The good news is that it’s easy to address. It only takes half an hour a day to help close learning gaps and boost progress during the upcoming school year.

These easy ideas should help you have fun and reap the benefits when it’s time to get back in the classroom. This week’s activities are all science-themed. Let us know how you get on and come back soon for our numbers and literacy ideas!

1. Grow Some Plants

Child planting

Take advantage of warmer temperatures by growing plants from seeds. Fast-growing cress seeds and beans can be grown anywhere and are great for impatient little biologists.

Take the chance to talk about the basic needs of plants (water, sunlight, soil) and the stages of the plant lifecycle. Check out National Geographic for instructions.

Child with flower

2. Flower Dissection

Pull apart some flowers from your garden or park and talk about the different parts. Older kids will be able to grasp plant part names such as sepal, stamen and stigma.

Refresh your knowledge of plant parts with this handy diagram.

3. Butterflies

Butterfly

Choose plants that attract butterflies and plant one in your garden.

Find a sunny, sheltered spot to plant some of the following: forget-me-not, heather, lilacs, primroses, buddleia, candytuft, cornflowers, lavender, herbs – marjoram, rosemary, thyme, helenium, ivy, and michaelmus daisy.

Apart from being fascinating, butterflies provide a great opportunity to learn about life cycles and adaptation.

Ladybug4. Bug Hunt

Challenge your kids to find at least five living creatures in the garden or park.

Use a box for collecting bugs and encourage kids to observe their characteristics.

Kids can learn about habitats by looking at the conditions where they find the different bugs (leafy, dark, damp). It’s also a chance to talk about what animals need to survive (food, water, shelter).

5. Make a Birdfeeder

Bird-Feeder

RSPB Kids has this step-by-step bird feeder activity using recycled items.

Observe and compare the behaviour and appearance of the different birds that visit.

Older kids can learn about food chains and habitats. Younger kids can learn about the characteristics of living things.

Night sky constellations6. Star Gazing

Warmer evenings and a rest from the usual early morning starts make it a perfect time for stargazing with kids.

If you’re ok with a little disruption to sleep routines, kids can gain first hand sightings of objects in the Solar System and see the effects of Earth’s rotation. These fairly abstract concepts are much easier to grasp if they’re tied to real life experiences.

It’s amazing how much you can see with the naked eye and a pair of binoculars. The Night Sky 2 app and Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe app are excellent companions.

7. Melting Ice Experiment

Holding melting ice

Challenge kids to see how long it takes for ice cubes to melt in different places or on different surfaces. All you need for this is ice cubes, paper, pen and a timer.

Talk about how water can have liquid and solid states. Ask kids to make predictions and come up with ideas about why ice melts faster or slower in different situations. Encourage them to make observations and record their findings. All key skills for real scientists!

8. Science Apps

Especially handy when you’re indoors, on car journeys or for quiet time. Check out our selection of 10 cool science apps in this blog post

Child with cardboard tube9. Pinhole Camera

Homemade pinhole cameras can create real pictures or just show kids how light behaves.

These simple guidelines from Exploratorium make a camera that beams an image onto a screen for instant viewing.

Guidelines from Instructables and Kodak will help you create cameras that use real film.

10. Science Videos on YouTube

Also handy when you have to be indoors or for a bit of down time. Check out our top 10 YouTube hits for budding scientists in this blog post

Thanks to the following sources: EdutopiaAdam Mokelke, Tech Mamas, Babble