Summer is a time for ice cream, swimming pools, playing outside, and traveling with the family. While summer break is crucial for children to recharge for the next school year, it’s also important for parents to help keep their kids’ minds active.
The “summer slide,” or summer learning loss, occurs when children are not academically engaged for an extended period of time and lose knowledge they gained over the past school year.
The summer slide can affect all children, but researchers say that learning losses are often greater for children from low-income or minority households. And the loss can be significant– students may lose anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of learning gains from the previous school year over the summer. 
Educational opportunities for your children help combat this loss over the summer, but it’s important to remember that kids also want to have fun! Here are ten engaging but educational activities to do with your children this summer break!
10 Free Summer Learning Activities for Kids
Sight Word Hunt: For kids in early elementary school, this activity will help them identify these sometimes tricky sight words. Stick post-it notes around your house with the words written on them and have a vocabulary scavenger hunt!
My Trip to the Zoo: If your family is planning on visiting the zoo this summer, this activity is a fantastic way to teach your kids about creativity and make zoo trips more educational. After observing animals, this activity prompts kids to draw pictures of what they saw during their visit. Not only does this improve drawing skills, but it teaches children to observe animals with a scientific mindset.
Color Mixing with Ice: What color does red and yellow make when mixed together? What about red and blue? Teach kids about secondary colors with this colored ice cube activity!
Thunderstorm Science: All around the world, afternoon thunderstorms often inspire children with fascination and awe. But do your kids understand the science behind how these storms form? Using a bucket of water, ice, and food coloring, you can help your kids understand the weather around them.
Floating Stone Experiment: For this activity, kids experiment with different objects to observe whether they sink or float in water. Using simple materials like pom poms, pumice stones, and popcorn, you can teach your kids about buoyancy.
Summer Writing Prompts: Encouraging your children to read and write is a great way to prepare them for the upcoming school year. This activity contains over 30 prompt ideas to help get them started!
Kids in the Kitchen: By letting your child assist in the kitchen, you’re helping them learn math skills (measuring, etc.) organization, health and nutrition, creativity, and so much more. With kids out of school, summer is the perfect time for them to give you a hand in the kitchen.
Homemade Kaleidoscope: Kids love looking through kaleidoscopes to see the fun designs–plus, they can make for a fascinating science lesson on refracting light. Now, you can make one at home with just a Pringles can and a few simple items!
Teach with Movies: We all know movies can be a great way to pass the time during the summer, but did you know that they can teach your kids critical thinking skills? Rather than just asking your child if they liked a movie, ask them more detailed questions such as why certain characters acted the way they did or to describe specific themes they noticed in the film.
Kids Mailbox: Kids love to receive mail! Building a pretend mailbox in your home will encourage kids to read and write letters all summer long. If you have multiple children, they will have fun writing letters to each other and seeing new mail arrive for them.
 Kuhfeld, Megan. Summer Learning Loss: What We Know and What We’re Learning. Retrieved from NWEA.org