Karyn ColeKaryn Cole Karyn Cole is the lucky mom of 2-year-old girl/boy twins, Mia and Miles. After teaching elementary school for over 15 years, she now spends her days trying to enrich her class of two and organizing the chaos that is her household. After bedtime, she enjoys baking, crafting, and watching bad reality TV.

Summer Slide is defined as the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer holidays.

When I was a teacher, fear of the dreaded summer slide was very real.  The powers-that-be expected us hit the ground running and introduce new concepts from day one.  The reality; however, was that the kids were in shock – thrust back into the school routine after the lazy days of summer – and we needed to spend time reviewing many of the previous year’s skills.

My kids may be too young for summer slide to be a real concern, but I still wanted them to continue learning throughout the summer months.  We pledged to do one structured learning activity (almost) every day to review what they already know and introduce new ideas they will build on next year.  

Here are some of our favorites so far this summer.

Swat the Bug

My students used to request this game all the time when I was in the classroom.  I forgot all about it until the other day, when I saw fly swatters on an end cap at the dollar store.  I quickly grabbed two and got to work building my game board. The game is super simple and you can use it to practice any concept.  We have been working on some early sight words, so I wrote the words on post-its and taped them to the bugs with painter’s tape.

Side note – I could have just written the words on the bugs, but I got carried away drawing them and I wanted to be able to roll up paper and use it again.  And you don’t have to draw bugs. Or have large mural paper. You can write whatever you want to practice on sticky notes and stick them to the wall.

I hung the paper on the wall, handed each child a fly swatter, and explained the rules.  The most important rule is to always hold the fly swatter down at your side. I call out a word and the kids have one chance to find it and swat it on the board.  At first we took turns, then we turned it into a competition to see who could find the word first. Easy-peasy and fun!

You can use this game to practice ANYTHING.  You can start with letter or number identification.   If you have older kids, put the answers to math facts on your bugs and call out addition, subtraction, or multiplication problems.  During the school year, you can put science or social studies terms on the board and review for quizzes without complaint.

LEGO Build-a-Word

A friend shared photos of her son doing this activity on Facebook and I remembered I had pinned it for the summer, too. We are in the middle of a big Lego phase, so  I immediately raided the large Duplo bin in the playroom.  I wrote one letter on each small block with permanent marker.  I chose to make the vowels all one color, hoping to help M&M grasp that all words need at least one vowel.  I also grabbed a long (three dot) piece for the base.

Once I had all my materials collected, I spread them out on the kitchen table.  With my two kids, I found this to work much better as a one-on-one activity. I wrote a word on the base piece with a dry erase marker, so I could change it easily as we built new words.  First I asked Mia or Miles build the word. Then I asked them to change the first letter. (ex. Start with cat, then change to hat, mat, sat, etc.) Pretty soon they were suggesting words on their own, experimenting with changing the vowel, and asking to try to write the word on the Lego themselves.

Salt Box

We really need to work on fine motor skills this summer.  Once again, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration and discovered the salt box.  It is literally salt in a box, or on a tray, where kids can use their finger, a pencil, or a crayon to practice drawing letters in the salt.   I bought some disposable baking trays with covers so the boxes would be reusable, added a fat crayon and a popsicle stick to “erase” the letters, and let Mia and Miles practice writing their names.  At first they had a hard time seeing the letters they drew, so I dumped the salt out, taped a black piece of paper on the bottom, and then poured it back in. Other sites suggest using sand instead of salt.  I used salt simply because I had a big container on hand, but my kids did keep trying to eat it at first, so sand might be a better option.

Thanks to the internet, keeping skills sharp over the summer no longer means endless flashcard drills or workbook pages.  What are you doing with your kids to prevent the summer slide?

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