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Top summer learning activities for middle schoolers

Keep your sixth-, seventh-, or eighth-grader sharp all summer with fun brain boosters.

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

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Creativity is cool

Gone are the days of yearning to be a pirate or princess. Now, middle schoolers have cool, creative ambitions like (famous, of course) screenplay writer, novelist, news anchor — you get the drift. Well, writing is a necessity for all of these callings (and crucial for middle school, high school, and college success). Your middle schooler can build her writing skills by starting a blog about an interest or just chronicle her summer vacation. You’ll find free blogging templates available on blogger and wordpress. These same skills can be put to use the old-fashioned way by keeping a journal — a bonus is she’ll have an opportunity to work on her handwriting and cursive. (Hint: Encourage your child to select a journal with lined pages to encourage neat handwriting.)

Is your family celebrating a milestone (e.g. grandma’s 90th birthday, parents’ silver anniversary, a family reunion)? Task your child with memorializing the event in words and pictures. When she’s finished, she can publish it using such sites as blurb or lulu. Bonus: Bound, hard copies of her work can be purchased to share as gifts.

In our increasingly tech-oriented classrooms, one skill your child needs — but may not learn at school — is typing. Luckily, there are a few online sources where your child can learn while playing free typing games (check out Power Typing or Typing Olympic on Sense-Lang).
 

Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann is a freelance writer based in Detroit. She has written for  children's health and parenting magazines and blogs about both topics at Mom meets baby.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/11/2012:
"My kids read for 20 minutes (or more) every day. That is non-negotiable, and they do not get to use any electronic devises (computer/DS/phone games) until they've done so. I also go through their math workbooks that they bring home at the end of the year, and rip out any sheets that they haven't worked on. These become their 'homework' during the summer, at least twice a week for 15 minutes. I've seen that they really do forget math skills, and quickly. I think the key is that they don't have to do it every day, so it's not quite a burden. Our school has signed up for an online reading program, which we will check out, my daughter is signed up for a book club through the library, and we will visit the science museum at least twice over the summer. Combined with camp and a family vacation, it's a full summer. "
06/4/2012:
"There are many fun things that kids can be learning as well as enjoying. Travel, gardening, reading a fun book, creating whatever, using imagination. What I do not agree with is the summer homework packets. I agree with that burning out my children, as well as lacking feedback on the work during the summer. Maybe if the child only watches TV all summer, they would be 2 months behind. "
06/4/2012:
"you guys must be so out of touch. Has it ever happened to you by studing more of math, science ann other subject in summer time, kids will be burn and will not be intested to go back to school with their full energy in fall (another study shows that). how about life and trave education. who come up with that idea to study over summer time. "
06/20/2011:
"my twin will be on six grade this year. they passed and approved for 7th grade pre-algebra math. any suggestion."
06/13/2011:
"This is a great send off for our vacation drive. We do License Plate Math, multiplications, letters and words but this extra for the road is quite helpful. Thanks and Happy Summer !"
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