How to Plan a Summer Full of Fun and Learning

When my children were younger we homeschooled year round. But we didn't keep a "regular" school schedule in the summer. Instead, I liked to use summer time for fun learning, for activities that were different from our normal routine. In other words, I wanted the kids to feel as if they were having a summer break- like the neighborhood children- but still keep them learning and maintain some structure and routine that kept us all sane.

So what's a mom to do when she wants to plan summer fun as well as learning for the kids? Here are some of the activities that have worked well for us over the years.

Fun and educational ideas for your homeschool this summer


Take advantage of free and inexpensive programs.


Take a look at what's going in your local area as well as online programs to find free and frugal activities for the kids. Local libraries almost all have summer programs. Ours has a reading program with prizes, as well as a weekly program geared toward kindergarten and elementary kids. They also have activities for preschool through high school planned at various times throughout the summer. Ask your local library what's going on this summer.

Local bookstores often have summer reading activities for kids as well. These activities are usually free and intended to get kids interested in reading books for the summer. Scholastic has an online summer reading program that kids can participate in for free. There are resources for parents and educators as well as places for kids to log their reading time.

Besides libraries, museums, parks, and other local places often have free or inexpensive summer programs. Our small local museum has occasional summer activities that are all included with the price of a daily museum pass and for several summers offered free movies for kids. Google to look for places near you to find these fun programs.

Use interest-led unit studies.


I love using unit studies in our homeschool. And I love the idea of school that is completely delight-directed or interest-led. But I'll admit that the structured, control side of me comes out and begins to worry about whether or not we'll "cover all the material" if we homeschool that way. I compromise by using a balance of more fun studies that the kids have expressed interest in and a literature-based, more traditional curriculum that follows a classical history cycle. Summer time is the perfect time for some of those interest-led unit studies.

You don't have to buy a prepared unit study. You can pick a topic that your children have interest in and easily build your own. This post has a step-by-step guide and free printable. But if you'd rather buy an already prepared study on a topic of interest to your children, here are a few of my favorite unit study resource places.

  • A Journey Through Learning has a large variety of lapbooks and unit studies on all kinds of subjects. I like them because they come complete with all of the information you need to complete the study right there.
  • Moving Beyond the Page has all kinds of literature unit studies divided by age. They sell them in packages for a complete curricula, but you can also pick and choose single unit studies- which is perfect for the summer.
  • Online Unit Studies from Techie Homeschool Mom are just that- online. Most of the prep work is done for you, and the kids can work through the study online, fairly independently. I like them because they're good for multiple grades and they teach tech skills as well as the unit study topic (and she has a good variety to choose from).
  • CurrClick has all kinds of unit studies, lapbooks, and other downloads. And they're all digital so you can search for a study, find one your kids are interested in, download it, and use it right away.
  • If your kids are interested in books, and you want to develop the book they're reading into a unit study, make sure you check out my 31 Days of Free Literature Unit Studies book. It's got literature unit study ideas for 31 great kids books at different reading levels...and it's free!

Think outside the box.


I've long loved resources from Answers in Genesis. I was so excited the first year I found out they had VBS curricula. But...we are in a large church where this kind of thing is planned far in advance. So I knew that I didn't have much chance of convincing the church to use this. Instead, I bought a starter kit, and we used it in our family over the whole summer.

I took the theme of the VBS- that year Ancient Egypt. I added an Ancient Egyptian lapbook as well as a human body unit study (because one focus of the VBS was how we are awesomely created by God.) Instead of using the curricula for five days- like VBS- we used it for five weeks. Each week we did a day of Bible, a day of Ancient Egypt, a day of human body study, and a day of fun and crafts. This made awesome, fun, four-day weeks of "summer school." I had fun. The kids had fun. And we got to use the awesome VBS program! It was a win.

Think outside the box to have educational fun with your kids. Is there something you've wanted your kids to experience, but it doesn't really fit with "school" or you can't find a group offering it? Create a summer study yourself.




Use workbooks...along with a little bribery.


I'm not a big fan of workbooks in general. Our regular school year curricula doesn't use much in the was of traditional workbooks. But, occasionally, I've wondered how my children would do on those standard, traditional workbook activities. And if you live in an area that requires homeschooled students to take standardized tests, it may be important to you to know if your kids are prepared for those standard, workbook-style questions.

If you don't want to use workbooks all the time, but you do want your kids to have some exposure to that kind of material, use a summer workbook over your break. I did this over a few different summers. I used the Summer Bridge books and the Vacation Stations from Bob Jones Press. Both are very similar. They give short review activities that cover reading and math, as well as some basic science, history, and geography. There is usually a page a day. And they encourage kids to read every day as well, some including charts to keep a record of this.

I'll admit that workbooks weren't my kids' favorite summer activity of choice. So, in our house, there were incentives set for the completion of a certain number of days. Screen time is a good incentive. But we also earned trips to the park or out for ice cream or for a day to play in water. The workbooks aren't difficult or time consuming- unless your child has a special need, in which case I'd probably skip these altogether- so it's a pretty easily-earned reward.

Learn on vacation.


One of the greatest things about homeschoolers is that we realize that we're learning everywhere. Learning doesn't happen inside a classroom or sitting at a desk or during predetermined school times. Learning happens wherever you are, whatever your age, whenever you discover something new. When we expose our kids to different environments, different materials, different animals, and the kids look around them and say, "Look at that!", "Can you believe that happens mom?", "What makes that work?", then learning is taking place.

Although I've never made our family vacations all about "doing school," I have tried to make sure that on a vacation we have the opportunity to learn new things. We've explored museums. We've stopped at out-of-the-way places that were new to us. We've taken time to look things up online and talk about what we were all seeing and discovering.

Learning is a mindset, not a once-in-a-while activity. And vacations are a great time to teach kids this by learning and observing and exploring for ourselves as well as by encouraging them to do so.


Fun and educational activities for your homeschool this summer

Summer can be a time filled with fun and adventure. It can also be a time when kids can keep learning. Try some of these to make your summer one full of fun and learning.


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2 comments :

  1. I love these tips! They tied in with what I wanted to share on my blog, so I linked to your post. Thanks for sharing!

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