The countdowns are underway, the end is in sight, and our students will soon be heading out the doors for summer vacation. Taking this extended break to recharge the batteries is a well-deserved rite of passage for kids. However, leaving all thoughts of school and learning behind can make for a tough transition when it's time to return in the fall. As with any vacation, some planning and preparation will ensure students encounter as many educational highlights as possible. By taking the time to help students pack a suitcase for learning adventures at home, we can help transition those students who are sad to see the school year end and ensure that students' brains will maintain some educational focus during the summer months.
Depending on your district's web accessibility over the summer and the computer resources of your students, these suitcases can be virtual or tangible. Something more tangible would probably be best for the little ones whether or not online capabilities are a challenge. Younger students could decorate suitcase folders or boxes to take items home. It would be great to make this a school wide project with all teachers adding something to students' suitcases or posting summer activity ideas on their webpages! Here are a few ideas for different levels and subjects.
Your local library may offer a link to a summer reading list which you could post on your webpage, or you could find a great one like this New York Library page of titles for all ages1. A printout of titles for your specific grade level would be a perfect addition to the suitcase! Turning the last of the loose leaf paper into a journal with a decorative cover for recording summer adventures would keep those budding authors going. For several years, a local elementary has hosted a book drive and asked for donations from the neighboring middle school and community to build a collection of gently worn titles. They collect enough each year to allow every student to "shop" and take home two "new to them" titles each. So fun!
No matter what the age, flashcards for review are always a plus. You can have students decorate a set to pack in their suitcases or post a link from math-aid.com2 and give parents some ideas for areas that need practice over the summer months. Introducing students to Khan Academy3 for online math lessons and reviews would be an excellent addition too. There are also history and art links to navigate and explore on the academy's site.
Once again, Khan Academy provides some great science links and instructional/informational videos. There are also some fantastic at-home experiments that students could try over the summer. Sites like ScienceBob offer a host of simple ideas. A parent volunteer could put together some baggies filled with the materials and instructions for a simple experiment like Make a Paperclip Float4 to add to the suitcase and get the science bug started!
Students can delve into their own history by working on a family tree with a template from Family Trees for Kids5 or interviewing older relatives about day-to-day life when they were their age. You can put together an activity packet that revolves around Flag Day or the Fourth of July. Do some browsing online to find virtual field trips that complement the content and time period of study students have completed. Sites like HistoryTech share links to many sites with historical significance6.
A list of music and art festivals in the area is a must for the suitcase! Tapping into your local arts community for event pamphlets or fliers would be a perfect item to pack. Print out some instructions from Origami Fun7 for fashioning some paper masterpieces on those hot summer days.
Help students maintain healthy habits by packing some at home exercise routines for them to try out. The Pyramid Workout for Kids8 on Drazil Foods would be a great item to include. Search the web for a printable or two that would fit your students' age range and toss in an exercise calendar to keep them on the go!
Make summer an exciting and educational adventure as you help students pack for lots of learning fun. Share any ideas or links for summer activities in the comment section. Together we can help students battle the end of the year blues and be recharged for fall!
Additional Resources & Works Cited
1. New York Library
2. Math Aids
3. Khan Academy
4. Science Bob Paperclip Float
5. Family Trees for Kids
6. History Tech Virtual Field Trips
7. Origami Fun
8 Pyramid Workout from Drazil