Ahhh, summer. . . The weather is nice, the sun is shining and there are so many fun things to do! Summer also means kids are out of school! While summer vacation is wonderful, there is also usually some fear of the "summer slide" or loss of skillset over the summer. But don't worry, just because school is out doesn't mean the learning needs to stop! Today I am bringing you my top four, favorite summer activities to support hands-on learning!
Whether you're teaching in the summer, running a summer camp, or just have kids of your own - I've gotcha covered! These fun summer activities are simple to prep, inexpensive, and provide plenty of WOW factor to entertain your littles. Today we'll cover summer activities from all my favorite areas: sensory, science, crafting, and cooking! Ready to dive into some summer hands-on learning? Let's get to it!
1. Summer Sensory Activity: Water Beads
First up on my summer activities list are water beads! If you're never used them before, you're in for some simple, summer fun! Water beads are a non-toxic, sensory play material that comes "dried" and expands when placed in water. To use water beads, simply place them in a plastic container or sensory tub and cover them with about an inch of water. The beads will take a few hours to fully "grow", so plan to do this a little while before you want to use them.
Once your water beads have expanded, it's time to add some fun fillers! Keeping in line with our summer activities theme, I love adding some plastic sea creatures to the bin. Kiddos will love playing with the animals in this sensory tub! They can work on naming the animals and sorting them by size or color. Children are always so fascinated by water beads, so you can typically keep this activity going for quite a while.
To add an extra learning element, try pairing with some word cards like the ones in my Grab & Go Preschool Vocabulary resource. If you choose to incorporate these, you can easily work on prepositions during this time for some fun, summer hands-on learning! For example, ask your kiddos to put the fish IN the water or take the turtle OUT. Children will love this interactive, summer activity for hands-on learning!
2. Summer Science Activity: Fireworks in a Jar
Celebrate the 4th of July with a simple science experiment with your kiddos! Children love conducting science experiments, and it's a great time to work on vocabulary, grammar, following directions, sequencing, and more!
To conduct the experiment, you will need:
- 1 Large, clear container (bottles, fish bowls & vases all work great)
- Food Coloring
- Vegetable Oil
- Optional: Shaving Cream
To get started, you will want to fill your container with water. Next, add some oil, followed by a few drops of food coloring. Give this a gentle mix and watch as the colors "dance" together in your container and create a "firework show".
Alternatively, you can layer shaving cream on top of the water and drop the food coloring right on top of the shaving cream. The food coloring will drip more slowly into the water and prolong the effect of the "fireworks". Either way works and kiddos will surely be amazed by the summer firework show!
When I use this experiment, I love to use a visual directions card. This will help to prompt non-verbal children and encourage kiddos to follow directions. Using a visual directions card can also help children work on identifying materials and practice vocabulary. This added element will bring an extra level of learning to your activity and allow for more discussion before, during, and after the experiment is complete.
After our summer science activity, I like to use some follow-up questions with my kiddos and see how much they remember. This is a great way to work on comprehension and reflect on our activity. The full experiment with directions card, vocabulary cards, and comprehension questions can all be found in my Simple Science Experiments resource along with 14 other fun science experiments to try.
3. Summer Crafting Activity: Diffusing Sea Animals
You guys probably already know how much I love a good craft! Especially, an easy one! This simple sea animal craft is the perfect summer activity to continue hands-on learning with your kiddos!
If you're never heard of it before, Diffusing Paper is a very thin craft paper that makes colors (from markers) bleed together when wet. These are so fun to create and always produce a beautiful finished project.
As an added bonus, these couldn't be easier and all you need are 3 items:
- Diffusing Paper In Sea Animal Shapes
- Markers or Dot Markers
- Spray Bottle Filled with Water
To get started, have your kiddos decorate their ocean animal shape any way they would like with markers or dot markers. I like to encourage them to choose at least 3 colors and fill their entire shape. The more they color, the better these will turn out!
While they color, you can use the opportunity to ask questions and encourage conversation. You might ask what colors they chose, talk about what will happen next in the crafting process, and ask what they think will happen when they squirt the animals with water.
Once your kiddos are done coloring, you can either spray the animals yourself or have them spray their own. If you're worried about the paper getting too wet, give them a guideline like, "spray the animal 3 times" and then check to see if more water is needed. Your kiddos will be amazed at what happens when they spray the water and the colors run together!
These look fantastic displayed on a bulletin board! I love covering a board with blue paper and a strip of tan for sand at the bottom. Next, I like adding some green crepe paper as "seaweed" and then adding the cute sea animals in when they dry. Your students will be so proud of their work and you will have a cute display you can keep up all summer long!
4. Summer Cooking Activity: Watermelon Dough Freebie
You knew we couldn't get through a whole post without talking about cooking right?! I love cooking with kiddos - and for good reason! Cooking with children enhances relationships by allowing for quality time, opens the door to endless conversations and speech therapy work and. . . is just plain fun! If you haven't already tried cooking with your kiddos, I have the perfect summer activity to get you started!
This watermelon dough activity is actually a "no-cook" recipe, so you won't even have to have access to a microwave or stove. This would be a great activity to take outside if the weather is especially nice!
This summer cooking activity uses watermelon gelatin to tint your playdough and it will have a wonderful "summertime" scent as well! In this freebie, you will also find this summer cooking activity comes complete with vocabulary cards, a full-color recipe directions card, and comprehension questions to test out with your kiddos.
All of these supporting materials will help enhance your activity and make your lesson extra meaningful. Be sure to grab your free download and try out cooking for a fun summer activity!
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