Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer

The sunshine is calling and freedom is at our fingertips. Summer vacation has finally arrived! I can’t wait to let my children soak up every ounce of relaxation this summer and let them have some much deserved time to decompress.

However, taking 3 months off from formal education can have a huge impact on the academic progress that they made this year.

“In NWEA’s research, summer learning loss was observed in math and reading across third to eighth grade, with students losing a greater proportion of their school year gains each year as they grow older – anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.”

Knowing that my kids are at an age where they risk losing almost 50% of their past year’s progress is motivation enough to enforce some summer studying. However, summer is a time for adventure, so I want to encourage math and reading in ways that don’t feel like learning.

Check out these fun ways we have incorporated and reinforced important skills into our summer adventures.


Any time you have a recipe, math problems await. No need to create worksheets or bore kids with math problems they can’t relate to. My 5th grader is living in a fraction-filled world right now, so what better way to practice than to give her a recipe and ask her to double (or triple) it?

This recipe for making slime will have your kids thinking you’re the coolest mom ever; all-the-while you are really just enriching them with math and measurement problems.

Slime Recipe

  • 2/3 Cup White Elmer’s Glue
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda.
  • 1/4 Cup Water.
  • 2-3 Cups Shaving Cream.
  • 1.5 tablespoons Contact Lens Solution
  • Liquid Food Coloring.*

*Important: your brand of contact lens solution must have boric acid and sodium borate in the ingredient list. This is what interacts with the glue to form the slime.

Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer

Telling Time

My 2nd grader worked on telling time this year and for her, it was a struggle. She figured it out towards the end of the year, but the last thing I want for her is to lose this concept over the summer. With limited supplies and quick set up, hula hoop clocks make a great sunshiny review.

  1. Send your child to find 2 sticks that would work for both the hour and minute hands.
  2. Lay a hula hoop on your driveway/sidewalk
  3. Write clock numbers on the outside of the hula hoop.
  4. Call out times and have your kids move the hands of the hula hoop to the correct time.

Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer


Need to reinforce knowledge of money? Playing Monopoly is an excellent way to learn! Any school-ager can work on their math skills by counting spaces on the board or counting out their money for purchases. For older kids, have them act as the banker to practice making change or calculating mortgaged properties. I don’t know about you, but my kids fight over who gets to be the banker. I love that they are arguing over who gets to practice more math!

Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer

Problem-solving/ Data interpretation

Geocaching a fun way for kids to learn important skills without even realizing it! Using any mobile phone, geocaching in Cedar Rapids is a fun way to practice an understanding of compass points, distance, longitude and latitude, reading and following maps, drawing and using scale, problem-solving and interpreting data. These fun geocache adventures take you outside to search for hidden treasures that have been hidden by others around the city. Not only are they reinforcing their academics, but they are also learning more about the city they live in!

Addition / Subtraction

Math is everywhere! Bowling is a great way for young school-agers to work on addition and subtraction facts. For my youngest, she can figure the difference in pins knocked down. (I.e – if 4 pins are standing, how many did you just knock down?) She will then report that math to my older girls, who can tally the score by hand and create more complex problems: ( (10+10+10) x 10 = 300) For instant feedback, they can then check the score on the TV to make sure they are correct.

Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer


A fair amount of our summer is spent watching softball games. Watching sports lends itself to some amazing statistics and math problems. Kids will quickly become pros at multiplication and division through calculating batting averages or fielding percentages (batting average = hits/at-bats). I also have a daughter who pitches, so my 7th grader can calculate earned run averages of pitchers while sitting at the games (ERA = (Earned runs/innings pitched) x9). Need more complex math to challenge older kids? Have them research their favorite players who have racked up far more impressive statistics for some higher level math problems.

Sneaky Summer Studies: Fun Ways to Encourage Learning This Summer

What fun ways do you incorporate learning into your summer routine?

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