School’s out for summer (sorry if I just got those song lyrics stuck in your head!) And you’re probably looking forward to two-and-a-half-months of sand, swimming and fun with the family!
However, if you’re anything like me, mommy guilt begins to sneak in a few weeks into that fun-filled summer vacation. Sure, you’re having a great time, but shouldn’t the kids be learning something?
Never fear! I solicited the help of one of our amazing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) educators here in Hillsborough County Public Schools for some Sneaky Summer Learning ideas!
Christina Calve is a science resource teacher at Town and Country Elementary School. She has six amazing ways to implement a little learning into your summer vacation, which, if done properly, won’t even let on to your little darlings that they’re learning!
- Plant a garden. This is great for watching the life cycle of a plant. Identify the roots, the stem, the leaves and the flowers and talk about how each of those parts are necessary for the plant to live. (Many kids don’t think trees have stems—they do! It’s the trunk.)
- Go on an observation hunt. Whether you’re at a park or traveling in the car, look for as many living things as possible. Are you observing mostly vertebrates (animals with backbones) or invertebrates? Where are you observing these living things? Where are you not seeing living things? Why do you think this is?
- Watch the clouds. Turn a day at the beach into a meteorology lesson! Which types of clouds do you see? What can you infer about the weather over the next few hours based on the clouds you’re observing? What shapes/pictures can you observe that are being formed? What is causing the clouds to move?
- Go to a sporting event. As the athletes play, look for examples of force (kicking a ball, hitting a ball) and motion (what kind of energy is being used)? Describe the speed of the players/equipment. How is gravity impacting this sport? How are the athletes overcoming gravity? How is friction helpful and also a barrier?
- Metric me. As families get ready to shop for new school clothes, a lot of shopping is happening online. Take time to do some measurements that will help in determining sizes as well as help students learn how they “measure up.” You can use measuring tape to measure head circumference, a ruler for foot length and hand span and a meter stick for height.
- Draw with chalk. Chalk can be a model of a rock going through weathering. When you draw with the chalk, little pieces come off which is like when pieces of rock are cracked or broken by the process of weathering (such as by wind, water, ice or even plant roots). If you wash away or blow away those pieces of chalk, you have now modeled erosion. Erosion is the movement of pieces of rock.
Enjoy your summer—and learn a little while you’re at it!
Originally Published in June 2021