As students, teachers, and families are beginning their summer vacation, it’s important to remember that the learning process doesn’t take a break during the months of June, July, and (some of) August. While most students don’t see the inside of a traditional classroom in summer, there are many opportunities to continue to improve Math fluency and Reading Comprehension, as well as develop skills that may lead to discovering new career paths. Adventures await around the Bay Area! Here are 4 free or low cost activities that will keep your learner motivated and engaged this summer.

Discover and Go

Discover and Go is a partnership between public libraries in Northern California and local museums and community centers that offer free and discounted tickets for students and their families. It’s absolutely free to sign up; all you need is a public library card from one of the fifteen participating Northern California counties. Members enter the Discover and Go portal through their library site, and can select tickets by date availability. Participating museums and attractions include: Bay Area Discovery Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Children’s Creativity Museum, CuriOdyssey, Exploratorium, and the Pacific Pinball Museum. Each member may have up to two outstanding reservations at a time.

This is a fantastic way to expose children to the wonderful cultural institutions the Bay Area has to offer. It’s difficult to budget for multiple family outings during the summer without breaking the bank. Discover and Go offers this to all members, regardless of income. I have already used two Discover and Go passes to play pinball and visit the Museum of the African Diaspora.

Take action: Dig up your library card (or register for one!), sign up at www.discoverandgo.org, and plan an outing for the first week of summer vacation! See how many new and exciting places you can visit this summer, and have your children journal about what they saw and experienced! Discover and Go memberships are FREE.

Code.org’s Code Studio

Learning how to code may be one of the most enjoyable activities your students or children can do during their summer break. I engage my students in a coding activity in my Math class on a monthly basis. During this session, we put the prescribed curriculum on the back burner for a day, and I give them the opportunity to go to Code.org’s Code Studio and work on their course. As 6th graders, they were able to complete Course 2 of the Computer Science Fundamentals series, and are now equipped with the tools necessary to create their own games, mostly on MIT’s Scratch site. Coding can expose students to new job possibilities, and new skills that they can use to be successful in school and beyond.

Students who have struggled in traditional Math classrooms have taken to coding very quickly. There are no prerequisites to learn how to Code. At our annual Hour of Code event, we had kindergarteners working with their parents and completing strings of code on their own. As MIT Professor Mitchel Resnick says: “Learn to Code, Code to Learn”.

Take action: Browse the Code.org Course Studio and choose the best starter course. Determine how long you will take to complete the 20 hour course. Set a timeline. If you finish faster, start the next level course! All courses are FREE.

IXL

IXL is a site and app based program that provides support, learning, and practice in Math for all grades K-12 with problems based on the Common Core Standards. The math problems have a wide variety of question types, from word problems to interactive graphing. IXL explains the process for solving a question correctly if a student answers it wrong, and keeps track of how long you spend on each section. I use IXL in my classroom for basic multiplication and division practice, as well as a supplement to the Math curriculum. It’s an engaging program for students; they get to pick their avatar and work towards earning prizes on each grade level game board. It’s also easy to differentiate instruction with IXL. While students work on grade level problems, they also have the opportunity to work above and below their particular grade.

One word of caution for teachers and parents: while the program awards anywhere from 3 to 5 points for each correct answer, incorrect answers are docked 7 to 10 points. This is a teachable moment for students; if they get an answer wrong it’s important to work through the process of correcting it so they don’t repeat the error. I encourage my students to stop their assignment if they get stuck or answer a few incorrectly in a row. For students who have anxiety, or are easily frustrated, taking a break is an important lesson in self-management.

IXL

Take action: The IXL app is available for free in the Apple App Store, as well as Google Play for Android. Memberships are $9.95 per month, or $79 per year. IXL also offers programs in Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies, for an additional membership price.

Nitro Type

Technology is an part of everyday life for our students. Many can text faster with than the average adult can type with a full blown keyboard. This usually doesn’t cross over into having effective typing skills. Upon entering the 6th grade, many of my students still use the “pecking” technique when it comes to typing, as opposed to using the home row. Teaching typing by itself can be a painful and arduous task (believe me, I have tried). There are some sites out there that focus primarily on typing skills, but my favorite of the bunch is Nitro Type.

MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) are one of the popular trends as of late, with the majority of my students playing such games as slither.io and agar.io whenever they have the chance. Nitro Type builds on this desire to play with (and against) strangers on the Internet, but without the chat boxes (and possible inappropriate language). Your typing speed and accuracy will determine how fast your car goes in a race against four other players. You can create an account by logging into Facebook, Google+, Clever, or you can choose to play as a guest.

Before you begin to race you’ll go through a “test run” to get an idea of your typing baseline. This will help determine your placement in the first series of games. You can earn money by placing high in a race, and use that money to customize your car. A confession: this educator also plays Nitro Type every now and then to brush up on her skills.

Nitrotype

Take action: Register for an account and take your test run to see your current WPM accuracy. Chart your progress over the summer. Accounts for Nitro Type are FREE.

These are only four of the free and low cost resources to keep our students engaged and learning throughout the summer! Do you have any suggestions to share with others? Please share them in the comments below!

4 Exciting and Engaging Summer Learning Activities for All Students 8 March,2017Kristin Vogel

  • Hi Kristen – Education.com is another fun and safe online destination for parents who want to keep their kids entertained during summer while also preparing them for the school year ahead. We have thousands of teacher-created resources, from easy-to-print worksheets to activities to interactive learning games, songs, stories and exercises that make screen time valuable. And just in time for summer, we’ve just released a new math and reading program to help kids Pre-K through 5th grade prepare for what’s ahead in the new school year. The teacher-chosen resources address the core skills that will be covered early in the school year and will help alleviate some of the problems that students who are transitioning into new grades can face by instilling confidence and setting them up for success. Attending a new school or starting a new grade is both an exciting and anxious time for kids and parents. We’re supporting parents of young children by giving them a head start with these easy-to-use resources as kindergarten readiness (and readiness for all grades) is essential for elementary school success. 9 million parents and teachers love us – http://www.education.com. Thanks, Marc Frochtzweig

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  • the summer season the students are going to sports camp or swim camp and computers coursers…

  • Wifichaved

    Students make studies in routine. Sometime summer camp is introduced for the performance of studies. It leads with extra ordinary working. This leads student’s upper position then others which did not attend summer learning.

  • commenter

    Another great tool tackling the summer slide is a game called Summer Slugger. It’s paid for in schools by the MLB San Francisco Giants: https://everfi.com/k12/summer-slugger/

  • Deepika Vinoth

    Here are some great ideas to engage, entertain and enrich your children and make the long, hot summer vacation turn into a great learning experience for them.
    https://www.parentcircle.com/article/engaging-activities-to-help-your-child-learn-this-summer/

Author

Kristin Vogel

Kristin Vogel is a Resource Specialist in San Bruno, CA. She has been teaching in the Bay Area for the past ten years, and has worked in a variety of school settings for students with special needs. Kristin brings a strong sense of social justice pedagogy to her craft, and actively participates in local, state, and national advocacy groups to ensure the best education for all students. She resides in San Francisco, CA, and is a pretty big nerd.

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