Summer, a Great Time to Explore

While it is true that many homeschool families take a break from more structured learning in the summer season, this does not mean that all learning should be put on the shelf.   Summer is a time to explore different areas of interest or brush up on some basic skills.


  • Math fact practice – summer is a great time to review and memorize math facts.  Immediate recall of facts allows a student to focus on more complicated tasks and problems.
    • A fun way to study facts:
      • Write math facts on an inflatable beach ball.
      • Include facts that your child knows already as review.
      • Add facts you want your child to learn.
      • To practice the facts simply toss the ball back and forth.
      • Each catch of the ball requires the student to state the fact located closest to his or her right thumb.
      • If you have more than one student, you can customize the game by assigning each student a different color marker but use the same ball so everyone can play together.
  • Budgeting – vacations are a great time to teach children how to budget their money.
    • Begin by allotting your children a certain amount of spending money each day, with the understanding that the money must last them throughout the day.
      • Take time to discuss how much they will need to put aside for snacks or souvenirs.
      • You can even set up a system of deposits and withdrawals, similar to a checking account, to teach children how to balance a checkbook or a budget.
      • Students can also practice their money skills by hosting a lemonade stand or a yard sale.
      • Working with money also provides opportunities to practice the skills of rounding and estimating.
  • Scale models – create a scale model, either of paper or other materials, of your yard, local neighborhood, or a park.  Younger students can identify objects to include in the model and work with older students to identify exact locations and other important details.  This project will require a number of mathematic skills including proportions, fractions, and percentages.  After the model is complete, the family can take a walk to confirm the accuracy of the model.  Your student can also plan trips to specified locations such as the library or store.  Give your student criteria to analyze different routes.  For example find the quickest route, the route with the smallest number of stop signs, or the most pedestrian friendly route to a specified location.


  • Plant a garden – begin by studying the potential location of the garden to determine the most appropriate plants for the location (either vegetables or flowers would work.)  Students can keep a journal of the plant growth by recording rainfall, growth, and the flowers/vegetable production for each plant.  This will allow students to employ both math and science skills.  If you would like to add an additional layer of experimentation try applying fertilizer to one plant but not another plant of the same type.  Record the findings in a journal to track the differences between the plants.
  • Collections – allow your student to collect rocks, flowers, shells, insects, or other natural items.  Students can create a display or poster of the collected items and include definitions and explanations of the items.  Younger students can practice sorting their collection by size, color or other characteristic.  Students can research at the local library or online to identify the items and learn more about them.
  • Boat Racing – children can make boats out of paper, soap, or pieces of lightweight wood.  Popsicle sticks and paper make great sails and offer an opportunity to discuss wind.  The physics and movement of boats, whether in a bathtub, pool or stream, provide many areas for scientific investigation and study.  If a stream is used, then a discussion of currents and meandering can follow.  Children can time their entries, giving them the opportunity to compare, track time, and to employ other math skills.

Language Arts

  • Most libraries, and several book stores, sponsor summer reading programs that offer special activities, crafts, awards and prizes to the children that participate.  You might even add an additional challenge to your child by encouraging him or her to read a book that he or she might not normally chose.  Your child may find a new subject or genre of interest rather than a trusty stand by.
    • Use the five finger rule to help your child select an independent reading book.
      • Have your child open to any page of the book and begin reading.
      • When your child encounters a word he does not know he should put a finger up.
      • If your child puts up 4-5 fingers that would indicate the book is too challenging for the student to read independently.
      • If the student has no fingers up, then the book is probably too easy.
      • The goal is to find a book where there are 2 -3 unknown words on a page.
      • If you are still unsure if the book is a good fit for your student ask him to give a brief summary of the page he read to check for understanding.
  • Travel Journal/Scrapbook – throughout a trip students can collect maps, ticket stubs, activity sheets, postcards, or other items to include in their scrapbook or journal.  Students can keep a journal each day to record their favorite activities and highlights for each day.  These daily highlights can also be written on the back of a postcard from the location and mailed home to be added to the journal later.  Provide your student with access to a camera to include photo documentation of the trip.
  • Start a Book Club – gather a group of your students’ friends and parents and pick a summer book.  Break the book into sections and plan times to meet to discuss the book.  Encourage students and parents alike to share their thoughts and impressions of the book. Many books appeal to people of all ages and this can be a wonderful shared experience.  Tips on starting a book club as well as guides for some novels are available on the internet.  Include a writing activity by encouraging a student to write an alternate ending or an additional chapter to the novel you are discussing.
  • Encourage students to read books that are set in location of a summer trip or once you’ve arrived visit a local book store to find books by local authors.  Your student may discover a new favorite author or be exposed to a story that you may not have encountered otherwise.