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Engaging Summer Learning Projects for Children

I have over twenty-five years experience as an educator at all grade levels. I am an avid gardener and canner.

Providing Children with Engaging, Hands-On Learning Activities is One of the Best Ways to Prevent Summer Boredom

When I was running errands yesterday, I overheard a girl whining to her mother about how bored she was. School has been out for summer in Southern Oregon for only a week and a half, and this girl was already bored. This girl’s whining prompted me to think about what my husband and I did with our girls when they were little to fight against summer boredom and prevent learning loss over the summer. I hope the activities in this article provide you with ideas on how to keep your children engaged throughout the summer.

Build Bottle Rockets


How to Create Bottle Rockets

You will need some basic household items to construct bottle rockets. These items include: white vinegar, baking soda, an empty plastic water bottle, funnel, and a cork. This activity is messy, so you will want to create the bottle rockets outside. First, you pour approximately an inch of white vinegar into the bottle. Pour a teaspoon of baking soda into a tissue paper and fold it up. This will be your time release capsule. When you are ready to watch the bottle rockets launch, drop the tissue paper into the bottle and secure the mixture inside the water bottle with a cork. The reaction between the vinegar and baking soda will happen quickly, so be sure to stand back. You can place the bottle rocket using the bottom of the bottle or stand it on the cork. The bottle launches will be different depending on how you place the bottle.

Create an Egg Drop Challenge

This engaging STEM project is appropriate for children of various ages. The goal is for children to create an egg catcher that will protect an egg that has been dropped from above the egg catcher. You determine the location and height for the egg to be dropped from; the children use household items to protect the egg in their catcher. First, children design their egg catchers, and then they construct them. Step back and let their creativity come alive. I have seen students use cotton balls, towels, toilet paper, homemade parachutes, contraptions created from plastic straws, and much, much more.

Egg Drop Contraptions

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Make S'mores in a Solar Oven

This summer activity is also a hit with children. You will need a pizza box, clear wrap, aluminum foil, and something to hold the lid to the box open. Kids may want to use other household items, like a glass bowl, to add to their designs. This is a great opportunity to talk to children about how to harness solar energy. Show them how the aluminum foil reflects the sun’s rays and the clear foil traps the heat in the solar oven. Kids also like to melt chocolate and marshmallows for S'mores as a culminating event.

Serving Treats with Solar Ovens


Other Stimulating Outdoor Learning Projects

Sidewalk Chalk Math Review: Children love reviewing math while using sidewalk chalk. After you locate a patch of cement, write review math problems for your kids. I used to do this in the spring with my fourth-grade students. I would write two-digit by two-digit multiplication and long division problems for them to solve with a partner. Solving these problems while using sidewalk chalk made this activity a treat instead of a chore.

Homemade Sundial: Children can make their sundials as complex or simplistic as they want. First, you will need to locate a sunny spot in your yard. Place a stick vertically in the middle of the sunny spot. It is best to start at noon. The shadow from the stick will show you where to place the 12 on your sundial. Children can then visit their sundials at the top of every afternoon hour to mark 1 pm, 2pm, 3 pm, etc. After that, they should be able to predict the location of the other hour marks for the sundial. This activity creates a great opportunity to discuss the history of sundials with your children.

Cola and Mentos Geyser: Nothing says summer fun for kids better than creating a Cola and Mentos Geyser. Children will need some bottles of Cola and a mint Mentos. You will definitely want to complete this activity outside since it can make a huge, sticky mess. Children simply take the lid off of the Cola bottle and then drop a few Mentos into the bottle. You will want to warn your children about the quick explosion so that they don’t get covered in Cola. I always have plenty of bottles of Cola on hand because causing one Cola explosion usually isn’t enough for kids.

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