Yes, it’s summer, and yes, that means plenty of water play, outdoor activities, and soaking up the sun. But sometimes we parents need low-key (and indoor) activities to keep our kids excited about learning (and not just mindless games). Here are some of my favorite (free) online resources we’ve been diving into for summer learning.
If your kids are into art (or just certain TV or movie characters), Super Coloring is a great resource to keep them occupied when it’s too hot to venture out this summer.
The free printable coloring pages are categorized by theme, so you can find everything from manga coloring sheets to color-by-number worksheets and even intricate pages for teens and adults.
A search feature helps you narrow down your options by subject, but keep in mind a lot of the characters are not licensed and so don’t use the “proper” names. For example, you can find Power Ranger themed coloring pictures, but they’re called “Crime Kickers.”
I also like to use these pages to supplement what we’re working on during the school year. Categories span educational topics like Flowers, Fruits, Dinosaurs, Insects, Reptiles, Space & Astronomy, Countries & Cultures, and even History!
For older kids (or kiddos with a grown-up helper), the Wonderopolis website is packed with interactive fun to keep their brains busy. The site features thousands of fun questions (and answers) thought up by kids.
Find entries like “Do Starfish Glow in the Dark?”, “What Gives You the Giggles?”, and “What’s the Longest Word?” and explore them together. Each entry has an explanation, tons of vocabulary words (and links to their definitions), and a video on the topic.
And if you’re wondering, the “longest word” was actually a made-up word to describe a specific disease. The more “regular” longest words are those that come in at 22 letters long: deinstitutionalization and counterrevolutionaries. Fun!
OverDrive (& Libby)
I was thrilled when I discovered OverDrive through our local library! For a bibliophile like me, being able to borrow E-books for free was amazing. I like going to the library, too, but it’s so much easier to check out a digital book (and return it on time!) when it’s hot outside or when the library is overcrowded because public school kids are on break.
OverDrive is the site/app I first found through our local Amador County Library, but Libby is an alternative that seems to have the same functions. Just download either app (or get on your computer) and with your library card in hand, you get free access to thousands of books!
This resource is excellent for kids who enjoy audio books or the read-along versions which combine a digital book with audio recordings. And I’m not ashamed to admit that some days, after reading a stack of books to my kids, I need a bit of a break, so audiobooks are a lifesaver.
Plus, my kids love hearing stories out loud, even though I have one fluent and one beginning reader, and they’ll listen intently to audiobooks!
More of a curriculum-based site than a strictly-for-fun one, Science Buddies checks all the boxes for kids wanting hands-on science projects for summer. My third grader’s school linked out to this site in one resource for his grade level, but there are over 1,200 project ideas across all areas of science.
For kids like mine, who think science is a recreational activity rather than a curriculum subject, this is a great summertime resource! Older kids can even click through the site on their own and check out science experiment videos on YouTube.
If you haven’t already heard about this resource, you’re welcome! PBS Kids has tons of educational programming content—from TV show clips to games for nearly every age—and it’s all free.
Did you know that PBS also offers free programming even if you don’t have cable or any local channels? You can stream PBS (we have a Roku TV with a PBS “channel”) from your Wi-Fi enabled TV or tablet; I just entered our zip code to “log in.”
What Are Your Summer Learning Plans?
I sure hope I’m not the only parent pushing their kids to do at least a bit of “academic” work this summer… Because although we plan to remain super relaxed throughout the season, I still feel like I need to reinforce to my kids that learning happens all the time—even during summer break—and does feel a heck of a lot like just having fun!
What are your plans for summer learning and relaxing? Share with me in the comments!