When it comes to planning your summer learning program, the activities you provide can be instrumental in attracting and retaining students. Many of them take the summer to sharpen their skills, to learn something new or to take part in camps and institutes. However, learning should be fun and exciting in order to keep them engaged. Below we’ve shared a few ways you can convince students to participate in summer learning. The following topics and activities help foster key learning and developmental skills while students have fun and explore!
1. Tinker with Robotics
Learning about robotics offers a number of benefits for students. It promotes key STEM concepts and fosters creative thinking, programming skills, perseverance and teamwork. Just as important, exploring robotics is fun and interesting, and there are a variety of robotic activities students can try throughout the summer! They can build bristlebots, explore programming with Botley the Coding Robot or even read robot-themed books. With robotics, the possibilities are endless and you’ll never run out of activities to keep students learning and engaged.
2. Venture into Tech
Do you have students who love or are interested in computers and technology? Incorporate tech education into your summer learning program! This gives them the opportunity to explore things like coding, video game design, Minecraft, app development, virtual reality and so much more! And as the demand for talented coders, game developers, engineers and designers continues to rise, exploring tech can introduce students to a fun and sought-after career.
One of the best ways to equip your program with cool tech and gadgets is to partner with local businesses and community organizations. They can donate or lend equipment to give students access to the latest technology. You can also use low-cost online tools such as Makesto and Animation-ish to help them produce their own content. By exploring tech over the summer, you can help students transform from consumers into creators.
3. Explore a New Language
As the Chinese Proverb goes, “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” Learning a second language helps to broaden students’ horizons and exposes them to other parts of the world. It also results in cognitive benefits, gains in academic achievement and improved well-being. It also provides benefits to society such as positive developments in globalization and international relations. However, only one in five U.S. students are studying a world language or American Sign Language, and even fewer are learning “critical-need” languages such as Arabic and Mandarin.
Summer is the perfect time to introduce students to a foreign language! Not only can you promote language learning, but you can also expose them to the people, places and culture associated with the language. For example, if you’re studying Mandarin, you can also explore Chinese culture, history and society. You may construct replicas of the Great Wall of China or discover traditional Chinese food. There are other engaging ways to teach a foreign language, including:
- Educational apps (ie. Duolingo and Gus on the Go)
- Volunteer instructors
- Cultural celebrations
By the end of the summer, students will be able to have a basic conversation in their new language and will have a better understanding of the world around them.
4. Play a Sport
Youth today are more sedentary than ever thanks to video games, smartphones and other electronic entertainment. In many cases, they would rather stay inside and lounge around instead of going outside and being active. However, it’s recommended that youth (6-17 years old) should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily, including aerobic, muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening exercises.
Playing sports can help in both ways: motivate students to get up and moving and help them get the recommended amount of physical activity each day. Depending on the sport, they will learn specific skills, drills and routes and perfect them as they practice each day. They may even discover a hidden talent or skill! While playing sports provides a range of physical benefits - like proper weight management, muscle strength and lower risk of certain diseases - it also fosters discipline, positive self-esteem and mutual respect. And the skills learned during the summer can be used to join a school- or community-based sports team during the school year.
5. Immerse Them in Art
Putting the “A” in STEAM, art fosters a range of key skills - like creativity, problem solving, confidence and perseverance - that can be used in many facets of school and life. And the good news? There are many fun and unique ways to learn and create art! Check out the following resources for inspiration and ideas:
- Everyday Art: How to Create Art with Easy-to-Find Objects
- Creative Investigations in Early Art
- 7 Must-Have Art Books to Foster Student Creativity
- Big Box of Art Materials
Whether you engage in visual or performing arts - or both - students will have ample time to learn new skills, explore various styles and techniques and create beautiful masterpieces.
When planning summer learning activities, it helps to involve students in the decision-making process. What are their interests? What new skills would they like to learn? What activities do they consider “fun” or “exciting?” This can help boost participation and retain students for years to come. Once you’ve gauged their interests, find engaging activities that also reinforce academic skills to prevent summer learning loss. To get started, use the tips above and check out these 7 Last Minute Summer Learning Camp Ideas.