As your child’s first year of “big kid school” ends, take a moment to be proud of your child’s progress. This year, they learned basic reading, writing, and math skills that they’ll build on next year and beyond. These kindergarten skills really are the foundation of your child’s education. Here are some fun learning activities to try the summer before first grade to keep your child’s skills sharp for school in the fall.

Learning activities for the summer before 1st grade

  1. Read a bedtime story (every night if you can)

    Snuggle time with a loved one is special. And reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do to help your child succeed in school. Make reading together a reward at the end of a busy day. Read different books each night or the same book over and over, and talk about the story, the setting, the characters, or what might happen the next day, after the story ends.

  2. Take a tour of your local library

    Visit the children’s area and meet the librarian. Ask about summer activities, such as story times or a read-a-book campaign with prizes. Ask the librarian if there are events for kids or families. Visit every week, if possible, and encourage your child to check out a pile of books that look interesting. Does your child only choose books about superheroes or dinosaurs? No problem! Keep the library books visible and within reach at home. Make sure there’s screen-free time when books are an appealing option.

  3. Cuddle up with a math problem!

    Yes, math time can be just as fun as reading time. Bedtime Math is a free app for fun, grade-appropriate math problems you can talk through with your child. For more math skills practice, print a few kindergarten and first grade math worksheets. (Hint: many are fun and involve coloring!)

  4. Run, jump, play

    Running around outside is good for more than just tiring out energetic kids. It’s important for children’s brains. Vigorous exercise helps kids build their brains’ super highways. Research has shown that exercise helps improve a child’s memory, concentration, and overall ability to learn. Any activity will do, from an organized sport to playing tag. Check out this list of age-appropriate PE challenges for ideas.

  5. Get the fingers working, too

    Your child probably made a lot of progress this year with their fine motor skills — things like cutting with scissors and holding a pencil. Keep those skills sharp over the summer with fun activities. Have your child use scissors to snip bits of colorful scrap paper to make confetti for a party. (They can work on it all summer until there’s a big bag!) Or have your child trace letters in wet sand. They can also mix cookie dough by hand or make a necklace by threading uncooked pasta tubes on string.

  6. Write a letter

    Sending a real letter is fun, and it’s great writing practice. Have your child write or dictate a letter to a relative or friend. Work together to address the envelope, place the stamp, and mail it. Make sure to ask the recipient to “please write back,” because receiving mail is fun, too!

  7. Play the new word game

    Do you want to know what ____ means?” Teach your child a new word each day. Building your child’s vocabulary will help them grow their reading and writing skills, too. Look for fun, new, descriptive words everywhere — on TV, in books, in articles, in advertisements, on labels in the store. If you need a guide, here are our lists of academic vocabulary words for first graders.

Want more summer learning ideas? See our recommendations for summer learning for kids of any age and specifically for the summers before 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.

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Updated: May 27, 2021