7 Great Places to Squeeze in Summer Learning

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by: Lindsay Hutton
Summer learning doesn't have to take a lot of time or resources. Although structured activities are great, quick and easy lessons on the fly are an educational (and much simpler) way to squeeze in a quick math or science session. The next time you find yourself at one of these summertime places, turn it into a fast (and fun!) learning experience.
Child playing in the sand with family in the background
At the Beach
Collect and count seashells, estimate how far you think the tide will come up, watch your shadows throughout the day — the beach has tons of learning opportunities!

As you build sandcastles, talk about what sand is and where it comes from. Explore the tide pools and examine all the different sea creatures you find in there. You don't have to go to the beach with specific learning activities in mind — just observing your surroundings and talking about the different landscape and the animals that live at the beach is a great way to learn about the environment!

Father and son at farmers market picking out fruit
Farmer's Market
With all the different fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market, your child will always find something new to learn about. Younger children can work on counting and learning their colors by identifying the rainbow of fruits and vegetables available and counting pieces of fruit to put in your shopping cart.

Older children can get a quick math lesson by helping you to weigh your produce. If you are getting different varieties, ask your child how much he thinks your total will be by adding the different prices. If you have more than one child with you, turn it into a game — whoever is closest to the right amount wins!

Little boy holding glove at baseball game
Baseball Game
Math lessons abound at baseball games, and your child probably doesn't even realize it! Keep track of strikes, balls, and outs each inning as you cheer on your home team. Ask your child to count the change when you buy snacks and drinks at the concession stand. Count the steps as you climb up to your seats. Simple lessons like these can help your child understand how the subjects they learn in school apply to everything — even the baseball stadium!
Happy family sitting in the back of family van
In the Car
If you've got a long road trip planned, turn your car ride into a quick learning lesson. If your child is older and knows more advanced math, ask her how many times she thinks you'll need to stop for gas by calculating how many gallons your car's fuel tank holds, how many miles per gallon your car gets, and how many miles you have to drive.

She can also calculate how much time she thinks it will take you to your destination based on how many miles you have to drive and what the speed limit is.

Younger kids can work on word recognition by reading billboards. Look for "vanity" license plates and ask your child what she thinks it says. License plates can also be a math lesson — ask your child to add and subtract any numbers she sees. Play "I Spy" and work on alphabet skills.

Having quick activities will not only help keep your kid's brain sharp — it will help pass the time on a boring car ride, too!

Happy kids blowing bubbles and playing in backyard
In the Backyard
As you lounge and play in your backyard this summer, take a minute to observe nature with your child. Plan a night to go backyard camping, and observe the night sky. Break out the magnifying glass and take a close-up look at all the critters that live in the grass and garden. Talk about the weather, and how rain and sun are necessary for plants and animals to thrive. Just a few minutes in your backyard can open your child's eyes to all that is thriving back there!
Mother and daughter planting seeds in garden
In the Vegetable Garden
From measuring the distance between seeds to knowing how much to water your plants, a garden is a great place to squeeze in a quick math lesson. As you are planning your garden, ask your child to read the back of the seed packet to you, so you can determine how much sun and shade each plant will need.

Start a compost pile to use as fertilizer and have your child add to it throughout the summer. When it comes time to harvest your crop, count how many of each types of vegetable you were able to get, and then add them all up to see how big your bounty is. She'll get a kick out of seeing her hard work end up on the dinner table!

Mother and daughter baking cookies in kitchen
In the Kitchen
The next time you are whipping up a batch of cookies, let your child help out. Learning his way around the kitchen is a useful skill, and learning opportunities are everywhere! Counting and sorting ingredients are perfect for little ones to work on some basic math skills. Older kids can help read the recipe, measure ingredients, and preheat the stove (with adult supervision, of course!)

When your cookies are finished, you can all sit down and enjoy your hard work with a tall glass of milk.