When my daughter finished her first year of preschool last June, I had big plans for making sure we had a fun and memorable summer together, and for the first couple of weeks, I did a pretty good job at keeping that promise.

We went to the science center.

We went to the aquarium.

We read books together.

We went on subway rides whenever we were bored.

And when I tucked her into her crib each night, I felt like I was winning at this wonderful job called motherhood.

But on July 11, my dad died suddenly and unexpectedly. I had no clue what to do or how to cope, so I decided to take care of all of the arrangements myself, which left me little time to breathe let alone visit the children’s museum.

At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing, but looking back I can see I was just avoiding the reality of what had happened. And while I was doing what I thought was best, I will always regret how much my daughter suffered as a result of my distraction and grief. Not only did I fail to do all of the fun things I had promised to do with her throughout the summer, but I also neglected to build upon the fantastic skills she learned during her first year of preschool, and her teachers noticed a regression in her development when she returned in the fall.

It was a horrible ending to a horrible summer, and with less than six months until my sweet girl starts kindergarten, I am 100 percent committed to making this summer both fun and educational so we can create some fantastic memories together while also ensuring she doesn’t suffer from summer slide again.

Are you familiar with summer slide?

It’s the loss of academic skills while on summer vacation.

Students from low-income households are more seriously affected, according to studies, particularly in reading. But all students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. And based on what my daughter and I went through, it can be quite detrimental to a child’s development and self-esteem when they begin the school year lagging behind their peers. In my daughter’s case, we failed to continue developing upon her writing skills, so when it came time for arts and crafts that involved markers and crayons, she often refused to participate and missed out on all of the fun.

Now my fridge is covered with paintings and drawings. With a little extra time and attention from both her teachers and me, she was able to overcome her difficulties and find a love for arts and crafts. But it was my personal efforts; I didn’t find a program to help her during summer nor when we noticed a problem. So now I’m determined to avoid having the same thing happen when she starts kindergarten. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time searching for fun and easy summer activities my daughter can do to keep busy while simultaneously building upon all of the other fabulous things she’s learned over the last six-plus months, and today I’m sharing 28 of my favorites with you.

These activities are great for building your child’s reading, writing, mathematical, and science skills, as well as their fine and gross motor skills, and they’re also a lot of fun, making it easy to slip a little academia into the day when your kids aren’t paying attention!

Reading & writing activities

1. Weekly visits to the library
2. Summer story hour at our local bookstore
3. Writing with our fingers in different sensory trays (salt, sand, shaving cream, etc.)
4. Decorating our terrace with sidewalk chalk
5. Playing sight word bingo
6. Working together on age-appropriate worksheets
7. Writing down what we did each day and discussing our favorite moments

Math & science activities

8. Counting watermelon seeds
9. Playing number recognition memory games
10. Counting and comparing different flower petals
11. Making ice sculptures
12. Blowing up balloons using soda bottles
13. Making tornados in a jar
14. Making ice cream in a bag

Activities that develop fine motor skills

15. Practicing how to use scissors
16. Blowing bubbles at the park
17. Transferring items from one container to another using tongs and tweezers
18. Making pasta and straw jewelry on rainy afternoons
19. Tracing shape, letter, and number stencils using our windows as a light table
20. Making marshmallow sculptures
21. Creating messes with play dough

Activities that develop gross motor skills

22. Learning how to ride a tricycle
23. Going on scavenger hunts at the park
24. Painting with our feet
25. Enjoying family hula hooping challenges
26. Learning how to throw and catch a ball
27. Playing hopscotch
28. Making and flying kites

I hope to help my daughter’s development in other areas before she starts kindergarten in the fall — such as remembering to clean up her own messes, following directions, and taking responsibility for getting dressed and undressed by herself. I think the best way for us to tackle those lessons is to make a responsibility chart together, and with her love for arts and crafts, I’m sure we’ll make a beautiful one!

What summer activities do you plan on doing with your kids this summer to avoid summer slide?


This article is part of a Summer Learning series, committed to raising awareness about summer slide and ways to combat it. Also in the series:

Summer’s here! What’s a mom to do with these kids?

Summer won’t addle my kids’ brain

Sneaking learning into my son’s video game obsession

Will reality live up to their dreams?

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