A major student motivator is a high interest level in learning tasks. During the summer, it can be challenging to stimulate that interest. Tired of the same old ideas for preventing the “summer slide”? Dig a little deeper with the following seven activities that families can complete together. Share these ideas with parents, and let the creativity begin!
Reading, With a Twist
Research shows that about 85% of what adults read on a daily basis is nonfiction. For this reason, students benefit greatly from written material with real-world significance. Try newspapers and news sites (Do Go News offers news content for young people), travel brochures and guides, informational Web sites or other nonfiction reading. Whenever possible, encourage kids to choose the content, and give them a practical problem to solve (e.g., “Which rides are the best choices for our family at this theme park?”).
Students can then present oral reports (such as a brief “newscast” at the dinner table) or write reflections on their reading, answering the following: (1) whether the information is credible, accurate and up-to-date; (2) how it relates to me; (3) why it’s useful; (4) what impact it could have on others; and (5) what I learned. For Web sites, be sure to supervise student Internet surfing or identify a particular site in advance. Kids can use the 5 Ws of Web Site Evaluation to reflect upon the quality of the site.
Practical Vocabulary Building
Have kids build a “word of the day” calendar for the summer months, focusing on words they think parents are unlikely to know. Students can teach each word to their parents and follow up by administering a quiz. During meals, try to use the word in conversation. Another activity could involve putting new words in context. Ask your child for a topic about which s/he would be interested in speaking or writing. Sit down together and use a dictionary, glossary and/or thesaurus to make a list of new vocabulary words related to that topic. Then make sure s/he uses those words in a short essay or oral report on the subject. Get more vocabulary activities here.
Foster your child’s creativity and speaking skills by participating in dramatic readings together. Have kids select a favorite scene from a book, or explore EducationWorld’s Reader’s Theater library. Serious thespians can download more formal scripts (for a fee) at classicacts.net or childrenstheatreplays.com. To incorporate the visual arts, create props, costumes or even simple sets. Perhaps with enough practice and good direction, students will be ready to auction for the next school play.
This is War (and Math, Too)
Write number sentences on flashcards, covering addition, subtraction, multiplication, division or even problems involving fractions. Leave the answers blank. After making 52 flashcards, shuffle them. Then, deal them out for a modified game of “War,” where players not only must provide the answer, but also must have the higher number (larger fraction) in order to win a particular draw. Keep a calculator nearby in case you need to check your answers.
Acts of Journalism
Have your child act as a journalist for the summer, documenting things that he or she enjoys doing. Kids should maintain notes on major activities and their reflections on them, including quotes from those who witnessed or participated. They also should have access to a camera or video recording device. At the end of each summer month, have your child complete a brief feature story about him or herself. Students can include photos or video footage that sum up their experiences, or those of their family and friends. Make sure to help your child plan out each story before beginning the writing process. A great tool for publishing finished stories (with the ability to include photos and video) is WordPress—parents can set up an account and control who sees the student’s blog posts.
If you already garden, this will be right up your alley. Make sure that your child has an interest as well. Then, explain some of the science behind plant growth as you explore agriculture together. (Get more ideas here.) For an added challenge, research the optimal growing environments for vegetables, herbs or flowers you haven’t tried before, and in a journal, record information such as growth rates, appearance at different stages and time spent on watering, fertilizing, weeding and other plant-care tasks. Include snapshots, drawings and other documentation to help inform next year’s garden. Afterwards, reflect on the experience, either through discussion or a writing assignment.
Combine Fitness and Academics
Adapt the basketball spinoff game H-O-R-S-E to help kids learn how to spell complicated words, names and orders of presidents, the 50 states, or whatever content you choose. Simply substitute another word for “horse,” or replace with other information the letter that one receives for missing a shot.
Original article by Jason Papallo on Education World.