Summer STEAM Activities

Projects that incorporate science, technology, engineering, arts, and math are not only good for children’s development, but they can be so much fun. 

We have noticed in our classrooms how much our students love these projects and how they allow them to have more ownership over their own learning. We often connect lessons and standards with STEM or STEAM projects. These help them develop a love for learning, helps with problem solving skills, and gets them to express their creativity. 

Summer is a great time to do some STEM and STEAM projects with your child. With more time on our hands and less stress, these projects are one way to enrich learning over the summer. You can go beyond the practice sheets and get your child really interested in learning through hands on activities. 

Checkout some more great STEAM projects we found for summer!

Summer Steam Projects

Free Summer STEM 

Ice Cream in a Bag

Awesome Engineering Activities for Kids

STEAM Lab

Little Bins for Little Hands

A great way to integrate STEAM projects is through literature. You are all aware by now how important we believe reading to be for a child. You can read a book together with them or have your child read the book to you. After the reading portion, challenge them with a STEAM project. 

The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale  is a great book to read. After Reading it, you could challenge your child to build a house that could withstand a wolf huffing and puffing (or your blow dryer).

The Most Magnificent Thing is all about creativity. After reading this book you can have you child create their very own most magnificent thing.

Ada Twist, Scientist Students love science experiments. A great one to do over the summer when it is hot and you can go outside is the rainbow geyser experiment.

Rosie Revere Engineer is one of our favorite STEM books. After reading this book your child can build their own hovercraft.

Like these, there are many other books that connect literature to STEAM. After you have done one of these projects, you can extend the learning by having your child reflect in writing on their process. What would they do different? What would they do the same? What worked? What did not work? Did they enjoy the project and why or why not? This allows them to practice their writing skills and reflect on what they did. 

Summer review does not have to be all worksheets. Through STEM and STEAM projects, children can practice academic skills and enjoy themselves while doing it, after all learning should be fun. And what better time for fun learning than summer time?

A huge thing right now is monthly subscription boxes. If you are looking to make these projects a regular occurrence around your house, we found a list of STEAM boxes here for kids that would be a hit in any house.

Summer Cooking with Kids

Summer days are some of the most wonderful days of the year. Parents and children alike are not stressed about school, projects, homework, or getting to after school activities on time. Summer days run on their own time, and we tend to have more time to sit and eat with our families. Whether it is watermelon, berries, or a cooling ice cream, we have time to stop and enjoy it.

As we wrote a few weeks ago, learning can be incorporated through a variety of summer activities. This week, we thought we would write about food. More specifically, healthy food activities that you can do with your children during summer.

We often write about balance because we believe we all need it. Food plays an important part in our lives, teaching and modeling balance when it comes to food will help children develop healthy habits. While we LOVE treats, we need to balance that with nutritious and healthy foods too. We can’t eat pizza and ice cream for lunch everyday. Modeling healthy eating habits for children will expose them to foods that they will learn to love. 

During the summer you can take your child to a farmers market. There they can explore and sample summer fruits and veggies. They can talk to vendors about how these crops grow, and they can practice counting money to pay for their selections. This simple activity incorporates conversation skills, science, and math, all the while you are spending quality time with your child and buying healthy foods to prepare together.

The lessons can continue at home as you prepare healthy delicious recipes with your child. After preparation, it is also important to take the time to sit down to dinner together. While we understand that during the school year, it isn’t always possible, the simple act of sitting together and talking with each other is important for development.  

Research has found that families that consistently have meals together have children that do better in school, and develop positive behavior patterns. Family meal time is a great time for children to develop narrative and explanatory talk and learn how to take turns during conversation. Along with developing language skills, if families regularly eat together at home, it helps promote healthy habits. They tend to consume more fruits and vegetables when they aren’t eating on the go. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that by 1 year of age, children can and should be eating meals with the family and following the same diet. There might be small modifications like cutting up foods from the parents plate so the child can handle it. 

Some of our favorite kid friendly summer recipes are:

Also you can check out this Farmers Market Bingo for some farmers market fun!

What are some of your favorite food related activities to do with children?

Fun Summer Activities

Last week we wrote about what academics you could review with your child over summer vacation. We thought we would follow that up with activities you could do with your child that are both fun and educational. Often times the learning that children remember the most are the ones that are hands on and fun. Summer vacation is a great time to do things with your child to engage them and create long lasting memories. Below are some of the activities that you could do with your child over summer vacation.

FUN, EDUCATIONAL, and HEALTHY things to do:

1) Visit Museums- Children love museums because they are curious about the world around them. Museums also offer a nice cool place to visit during the hot summer days. Most museums have kid sections and/or activities. You could bring notebooks and pencils and have children sketch or take notes at different exhibits. Many museums offer free tickets for children, we suggest you call and ask or check their websites.  

2) Volunteer- Teaching children to give back to their community is important. Children absolutely love helping others, and volunteering their time is the perfect activity for children. Volunteer Match helps match you with different organizations that need volunteers nearby. Habitat for Humanity has opportunities for children of all ages to volunteer. If your child is an animal lover then The Human Society is a great organization to look into for volunteer opportunities.

3) Use Chalk or Bubbles- It does not matter how old children are, from kindergarten to 5th grade, children love bubbles and chalk. We’ve made soapy bubble water with dish detergent in a bucket and used ropes to make huge bubbles. It was a hit with our classes, and the children did not want to stop making huge bubbles. Using chalk to draw, spell words, or make a game is another great activity to do on summer days. You could practice sight words, math facts, or just let them be creative.

3) Visit the Library- Most libraries have a children’s area with picture and chapter books. They usually also have story time where the librarian reads books to children. If you or your child are at a loss about what to read during the summer, the librarians might also have suggested summer reading lists based on grades or ages. Reading is one of the most important thing that you can do with your child to promote fluency, vocabulary, and reading comprehension, so going to the library and checking out books is a really good idea.

4) Go on a Nature Walk- This can be a local hike, park, beach, or even just a walk around the block. You can have your child collect leaves, rocks, sticks or petals and then have them create a collage, sketch them out, or write descriptively about what they collected.

5) Visit a Beach, River, or Lake- This one might be easier for those of us who live near a body of water, but if you are able to find a beach, river, or lake then you could learn about landforms first, and then go and enjoy a day at one of them.

6) Cook a meal together- Cooking with your child can promote health, togetherness, and also can incorporate math and science. During the school year cooking together might be more difficult between homework, practices, and work. During summer, this is a great way to engage your child’s senses and get them to be more adventurous about food.

7) Visit Nature Centers- Check out your local nature centers. They are usually free and might offer a nearby hike.

8) Have Lunch Outdoors at a Park- This is a great, inexpensive way to get out of the house and spend the afternoon in nature. This is also something you can do last minute. Pack a lunch and find a local park! Bring books to read, games to play, or just sit and enjoy nature.

9) Go Camping- while this takes a little more planning and organizing, it is a great way to spend a long weekend. Put down the screens and spend some time disconnected. According to the Child Mind Institute, the average American child spends 4 to 7 minutes having unstructured play outside while they spend over 7 hours on a screen. If your child learns to appreciate nature early on, we believe they will become more balanced.

10) Go on Bike Rides- this can be something that is done as a family. Instead of sitting around the TV after dinner, grab your bikes and go for a quick family bike ride. You can even ride your bike to grab an ice cream, or ride to a local restaurant.

We understand that not every single hour of the day will be filled with one of these things. Kids need to learn to be bored, how to entertain themselves, and the adults in their lives don’t need to feel obligated to spend every waking hour entertaining their children. Parents have a lot to do, and they need balance too. We do believe that providing space for children to participate in these types of activities will help them become more balanced and want to make healthier choices when they do have free time.

Some of these activities cost money and some are free. Most cities have events pages as well that you can find free events happening in your city. If you live the Los Angeles are here are some resources to find local events:

https://www.laparent.com/

https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/events

https://www.laweekly.com/

What to Do in the Summer: Academics

With summer vacation quickly approaching, this is the time of year when we tend to get many questions from parents about what academics should be done over the summer. We are big proponents of letting summer time be a time for play, fun, relaxation, and exploration. This can be a great opportunity for kids to explore new things, discover a passion, focus on another interest or develop a talent.

If a child is struggling and needs more support in a particular subject, we would suggest doing some academics. However the only time we would suggest getting any kind of tutoring is only when it is actually needed. There should be no rush or pressure to be ahead in school. Depending on the child, it might actually take the joy out of learning and that would be a shame.

If a child ends up being ahead naturally and is really interested in a particular subject, that’s great. You can definitely support them in this area without pushing them or MAKING them do extra work they do not want or have to do. In this case, the child should be driving it and you are either letting them do their thing or finding ways to support their curiosity.

There are things that kids can do to practice skills that are fun and rewarding for them. The key is to keep it light so that it doesn’t seem like work.

Reading

Summer is a great time for kids to discover new interests, and reading is a great place to discover new passions. Kids should learn early on that reading isn’t only for school. Reading for pleasure can be a wonderful, and good for the soul, free time activity. Going to the library and checking out books with your child is a great way to promote reading during the summer. Checking one out for yourself to read will demonstrate to your child that reading is fun, not a chore.

Journaling

It is great for kids to learn how to journal at a young age. They can write about their summer adventures, add in pictures, illustrations, or make it into a scrapbook. Not only will they learn to and begin to reflect on their day, but it allows them to practice their writing skills. While you should tell them to just write and not worry about spelling and punctuation, the more practice they get with writing the more they will grow as a writer.

Writing letters

Writing letters to family members that live in another place could be a fun activity, especially if they were expecting a letter back in the mail. If you go on vacation, you can have them write postcards to their friends or teachers. Again this is a fun way to promote, support, and build writing skills.

Things you can do in moderation

Practice Multiplication Facts

Multiplication facts are often introduced in 2nd and 3rd grade. It is helpful for children to practice multiplication facts during the summer so that they do not forget them and to keep the momentum going as they transition into the next grade. There are a variety of ways to help children practice and memorize multiplication facts. Practicing with flashcards a couple of times a week is one way, but there are also apps that make it more game like. Keep in mind that it is easier and more fun to practice these for 15 minutes a day than for 1 hour once a week.

Review

A little practice of more complex mathematical concepts, such as long division, multiplication, or fractions, whose algorithm is new to students or consists of multiple steps might be beneficial for students for whom these proved to be challenging during the school year. We only ever recommend it as a way to strengthen their math skills and return to school in September with better understanding and more self confidence in math.

Overall, summer should be about rest and relaxation. While a little bit of practice here and there is a good idea, if your child is having a blast at summer camp, a relatives house, at the beach, or anywhere your family decides to spend summer, do not stress about academic summer work.

Our big motto is that everyone should strive for balance. Summer brings great balance to children. The school year is long and full of lots of learning, responsibilities, sport games and practices, and projects. Let children have the summer to be children, eat ice cream, dig holes, swim, play and climb. Those are the main homework assignments we assign our students at the end of the year, and that is what they need to be doing during summer.

Avoid Summer Panic

It’s that time again where school is wrapping up and summer is knocking on the front door. Don’t let the end of school year panic get you! The end of the school year is full of exciting events such as open houses, field day, yearbook signing and graduations or promotions. It is also a time for transition. Transitions can be a scary time for some. Feelings of uncertainty and anxiety can arise when the unknown is upon us.

These feeling are true for both students and parents. You have become accustomed to the teacher, classroom, and routines of the grade, and in a few months you will have a new teacher with all the newness that comes along with a new grade. It is often around this time of year that teachers will begin receiving emails from parents asking for a meeting to discuss the next year.

Questions parents often have:

  • Is my child ready for the next grade?
  • Were they challenged enough this year?
  • Should I get tutoring over the summer?
  • What camp should I send them to?
  • Will they have friends in their class next year?
  • Who will be their teacher next year?
  • How did the year go by so fast?
  • How will I keep my child engaged this summer?

If you find these questions start popping up in your mind, that is normal. Transitions can leave you feeling powerless because you don’t have all the answers. We’re here to say that it is all going to be okay!


If you find these questions start popping up in your mind, that is normal. Transitions can leave you feeling powerless because you don’t have all the answers. Parents and guardians want the best for their children. They want to make sure that they will be able to transition an have a successful year. We’re here to say that it is all going to be okay!

As teachers we have the opportunity to see children transition into new grades every year. We’ve been in education long enough now to have the pleasure and opportunity to see our past students grow up, transition into high school, and even enter and graduate from college. We have seen a many children in our classrooms with a variety of learning styles, challenges, and successes and every single one of them have transitioned, matured, grown up, and learned in school. And while we cannot say that these students road was 100% perfect, we can say that they are doing well and thriving in their own unique ways. Which is why we would like to say to parents of elementary school age children, “Everything is going to be ok!”

We’d like to offer some advice for parents and guardians, in case you begin to feel anxious about the end of the year and transition into the next grade.

What to do:

  • Let your child be where they are. Had there been any challenges or issues their teacher would have already met with you about it.
  • Be proud that your child learned so much in another school year.
  • Look at the maturity and growth of the whole child that occurred during the whole year, not just academics
  • Ask the teacher if there is anything that your child should review over summer. This could something simple, but it could also be nothing at all and that is totally fine too.
  • Enjoy the rest and relaxation that comes with summer vacation.

What not to do:

  • DON’T wait till the end of the year to bring up a year long issue for the first time
  • DON’T put your child in summer tutoring unless it is actually needed or it is a passion for them
  • DON’T compare your child’s progress to others
  • DON’T gossip about which teachers are “good” or “bad”
  • DON’T believe other people’s experience with a certain teacher, you might have a completely different one

Endings and transitions can be anxiety provoking. The end of a school year panic is real, and we completely understand these feelings. However, as parents and guardian try to trust that the teachers and the school have your child’s best interest in mind. While you have a sun-filled summer vacation, the school and faculty will make sure that the transition into the following year is smooth and successful!