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Fun Ways to Keep Kiddos Learning (& save money doing so)

Fun ways to prevent summer learning loss (& save money doing so)

In the Fall, one of the first things students do when they return to school is take a standardize test. Over time, the results of these tests show that students score lower after the Summer break, which has led to the term known as ‘summer learning loss’. There are tons of articles and statistics about this issue on the internet, so I will not go into details about this, because my main concern in this article is for the kids to have a fun, yet educational summer that would also help prevent ‘summer learning loss’. There are ton of activities that kids of all ages can do to prevent summer learning loss. But I am looking for activities other than those commonly listed – I’m talking about fun ways to learn about science and math and reading, and the kids won’t even know they are learning, but also saving money doing so.

Summer camps offer great STEM and other academic activities that are also educational, but they’re also quite pricey. If you have more than one kid, it can really add up! Not everyone can afford summer camps. Studies have shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds suffer the most from summer learning loss, and it is speculated that this may be because during the summer there are less resources available for these students.

What fun activities can be done that prevent summer learning loss? That’s when I started looking around for activities we can do at home as well as outdoors while saving money.

STEM

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Sparkling an interest in these areas of academics is super important. Often, parents resort to tutoring programs throughout the summer. There are also workbooks that kids can work on throughout the summer to help prevent summer learning loss. I try to mix it up with projects that can be done at home to make it fun. However, doing science experiments at home can be a bit tricky, because we don’t always have all the things that we need. Remember the Mentos and Diet Coke geyser experiment that went viral in 2005? This is a popular experiment that can be done at home. The viral video was done by Steve Spangler. He’s a teacher/science toy designer that went on to create The Spangler Science Club – a subscription club where kids get a kit to do highly interactive experiments and hands-on activities. The box contains everything one needs to do fun science experiments, with easy to follow lessons that serve as an introduction to more in-depth experiments and challenges, to inspire wonder, boost creativity, enhance problem-solving skills and make learning fun. The Spangler Science Club has 3 types of kits to choose from: a STEM starter, STEM lab & STEM deluxe. What’s neat about this club is that it allows the flexibility to choose how many kits you want to receive during a month, and how many months you wish to receive them for. It also has a choice for a level of challenging experiments too. The STEM deluxe kits have experiments that require more critical thinking and tinkering. You can also save money using code SAVEME20 to get $20 off a 3 month (or more) subscription on STEMlab & STEMdeluxe.

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Not every project has to be science project in order to maintain math and science skills during the Summer. Arts and crafts projects are also a fun way to learn. Anyone can do arts and crafts project, there’s also no age limit. The website All FREE Kids Crafts has tons of ideas for every age and occasion. Its totally FREE! Enter your email and they’ll send you a Spring Crafts eBook for free too! They have a section for seasonal crafts,

Reading:

Keeping your student reading during the summer is a recommendation every teacher makes. Some teachers hand out a packet with activities and a summer reading list so students won’t fall behind on their reading skills. Getting kids to read can be a struggle though. But here is an idea: Kids normally don’t get mail or packages. But I imagine that just like I get excited when I see that the order I placed online arrives, my kid would too. So a way to get kids interested in a reading activity is a subscription service to something that kids enjoy – like Disney. This is like getting a surprise box in the mail, with fun things to do. Just like the Spangler Science Club, Disney has what they call Disney Premier Pack. Each month a Disney Premier Pack is sent to subscribers. The box includes 3 hardcover themed story books, 3 sheets of collectible stickers, a sticker book activity card and a collectible figurine. A different story is featured each month, and includes items not sold in stores. You can always see the list of upcoming packs, and choose to skip a month if you wish. For kids that love animals, there is also the Disney Animal World. With a Disney Animal World subscription kids receive 4 issues per month and 4 FREE gifts. The first delivery includes issues 1 and 2, plus 2 Disney figurines, 2 safari animals and a bookcase for just $7.95

For kiddos that are Star Wars fans, there is the Star Wars Epic Adventures subscription, which sends a full-color 96 page storybook that’s not available in retail stores and is exclusive to subscribers. The package also includes a set of 12 collectible cards, one activity book with stickers plus a large vinyl sticker, and an additional premium bonus item such as a poster or T-shirt. The twelve collectible cards vary based on the package, they provide an in-depth look at scenes from the films. For example, the cards in the initial “Phantom Menace” package give kids a detailed overview of the famous podracing scene from the movie. Each set of cards comes in a unique collector’s case that combine to create a classic “Star Wars” scene when all of the sets are collected. Imagine your kiddo getting this surprise in the mail!

boy placing a sticker on an activity book

Also consider the free reading programs and story time that local libraries offers. Barnes & Noble also has a story time hour. No matter what library you choose to go to, story time is fun. Most are geared towards the younger crowd. This is a great way for kids to meet other kids, and for parents to take a break as well.

What about older kids? What’s there to get them reading? Middle and high schoolers like to hang out with their friends. In addition to story time, Barnes & Noble also started a young adults book club. In the young adults book club Barnes & Noble picks a book to read for the month, and teens get together to discuss the stories and characters from the chosen book at a Barnes & Noble store. You don’t need to have a membership to participate. The book picked for the month is usually on sale too. If you have a Barnes & Noble membership, you’ll also get the members discount. Book clubs are a fun way for teens to connect with other teens, keep busy and have something different to do. If you don’t have a Barnes & Noble near you, consider having the kids meet at a local coffee shop or at your home.

inside barnes and noble bookstore showing banners of activities to do

Outdoor Activities

Family walks is something I recommend every family do. Walking together encourages unity, conversation, discussion, sharing. Especially with tweens and teens, at a time when they tend to turn to friends. Encourage your kids to invite their friends if they don’t want to go. The idea here is to spend the time together, disconnected from electronics, and talking. You can turn your ‘family walks’ into nature hikes. Hiking is not only a fun way to excercise, it also prevent summer brain decay. Learn about plants, animals, the environment, etc. There is a FREE app called All Trails, that guides you to hikes near you. The app also tells you the level of difficulty of hikes, distance and other info. There is a PRO version, but the basics you need for a fun time are free. A hike can turn into a learning experience using apps that help you identify animal tracks, plants and flowers along the way.

man walking through a tree

Games

I find that some kiddos automatically say board games are boring. So what I do, is place the game where they can see it. Out of curiosity, they look at it, and next thing I know – they’re playing. There are tons of educational games available. Ever heard of Spot it? Its an award-winning game of visual perception that develops focus, speech-language skills and fine motor skills. What’s great about this card game is that there are 5 different ways to play, so it doesn’t feel like its the same game played every time. Spot it is so popular, that there are several versions of this game – choose from NFL League version to Gone Camping.

Teaching kids about money and budgeting is more fun with games. Monopoly never goes out of style. It is still as popular as ever. There is something about accumulating the most properties and making other players pay you! Games like Payday teaches kids about salary and bills. One of my favorites is Buy it Right Shopping Game, which teaches bills and coin recognition. In this game kids ‘buy’ and ‘pay’, so they learn to how to put the correct amount of money to pay as well as figure out how much money they should get back. Its for all ages.

kids playing board games cartoon

One thing that kids definitely need to learn – no matter what age – is social skills. How do social skills relate to summer learning loss? While tests generally measure a student’s ability to read or do math, standardized tests use word problems and reading passages that require the student to comprehend and analyze. Social skills also requires kids to comprehend and analyze situations. The difference is the setting. One is with people, the other with books. However, the skill is the same. This is why cooperative games are so cool. With cooperative games, kids HAVE to work together. Otherwise, they loose and the board game wins! They must learn to compromise, analyze, develope strategy skills and more. In Pandemic, for example, four diseases have broken out in the world and it is up to a team of specialists to find cures for these diseases before mankind is wiped out. So the players must work together playing to their characters’ strengths and planning their strategy of eradication before the diseases overtake the world. There are several cooperative games for all ages and all levels. Make it fun family time and include everyone. This type of games also help with all the sibling fights! Board games typically don’t cost a lot of money, and there’s usually a sale going on.

The resources available during the summer, or any school break doesn’t have to impact a student’s learning outcomes. While finances do control what someone can do or join, there are activities to do that are free or low cost to keep kiddos learning and prevent summer learning slide.

Happy savings, TaLis

kids reading during summer

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