Avoiding the Summer Slump: Staying Connected with Your Scholars

by Kendra Martin


Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Due to COVID-19, many of us are experiencing a longer summer vacation than normal. And even if your summer vacation has not come early this year, many of us have not been able to have a normal classroom with our students over the past several months. With rumors of schools not opening normally in the fall, many are wondering if an entire generation of scholars within America will have academic repercussions when students do eventually return to the classroom. What measures are your staff putting into place to ensure that your students will not fall “behind”?

While our students will not be spending their summer vacation within the walls of our classroom, they are still in the best classroom of all: the big, wide world that God designed which is full learning opportunities. This classroom may not be traditional, but with a bit of prompting, your students can make great headways over the summer months in discovering more about math, literacy, communication, and science.

Create a Summer Challenge: 50 Things To Do This Summer

Miss Anna Zehr was the first one to introduce this challenge to me. Tweaking her list and adding some of my own, I sent my students home in the summer with a list of fifty tasks to complete. I offered a prize at the beginning of the next school term for those who completed more than half the list.

Ideas for your list:

  • Keep tally of all the books you read! When you have read 50 books, give (teacher’s name) a call (teacher’s phone number).
  • Keep a journal of what you do during the summer. Write in it at least 2 times a week.
  • Use a paintbrush and water and write the numbers from 1 – 500 on your blacktop, porch, or sidewalk. Don’t worry if the number disappears soon after you write it.
  • Make something in the kitchen involving the use of measuring cups.
  • Pull out your math flashcards. Practice them on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Cut out words from a newspaper or magazine, one for each letter of the alphabet.
  • As you read, try to picture what’s happening in your head. Stop and wonder about what you’re reading. Ask yourself “why?”, “how?”, and “what do I think will happen next?” questions.
  • Ride your bike.
  • Go outside. Collect natural objects and organize them into these categories: smooth, soft, hard, dry, prickly, and wet.
  • Find an object in your house that begins with each letter of the alphabet.
  • Find the answer to these questions: How long does it take an ice cube to melt outside in the summer heat? In the refrigerator? In an air-conditioned room or basement?
  • Make a scrapbook of mammal pictures.
  • Go to the library. Find a book that we read this year at school, check it out, and read or look through it at home. What was your favorite part of the book?
  • Play the alphabet game with your family as you are driving. Who can see something first that starts with each letter?
  • Make little signs to name things in your room. Put them up in your room.
  • Math in the car: Decide on a number of points for each animal that you might see (cow = 1 point, horse = 1 point, pig = 2 points, etc.). As you drive, add up the points. You can race by playing until someone reaches 10 points, or you can work together to see how many points you can get in one car ride. Were you able to find more or less on the next car ride?
  • Go outside and collect ten different sticks. Put them in order from smallest to largest.
  • Play store. Make price tags for things in your room. Use real or pretend coins to buy the things.
  • Gather six different items that you think might sink in water and six different objects that you think my float. (For example: soap, sock, bottle of shampoo, rock.) In a pool or the bathtub, test your hypotheses and see if you were correct.
  • Cut words from a magazine. Make sentences out of them.
  • Write the numbers from 501 to 700.
  • Make a sandwich. Cut it in halves, then in fourths. See if you can cut it into eighths too.
  • Make a list of everything you can find that is orange.
  • Go on a hike outside. Collect something from nature that represents each primary color and each secondary color.
  • Go outside. Ask your mom or dad to help you learn which direction is north, south, east, and west. Walk 10 steps south and 5 steps west. Where are you? (Stay off the street!)
  • Make up a song that has all the number facts in the 10 family.
  • Write a story about one of your pets or stuffed animals and read it to your family.
  • Ask your mom or dad to take you to a senior’s nursing home with your friends so you can read a story to the people who live there.
  • Write numbers by 10’s to 1,000.
  • Look at a United States map. Find Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and California. Find your state.
  • Go outside and find 3 different kinds of leaves. Make a Venn diagram explaining how are they alike and different.
  • Write all the names of the animals you know and have a friend do the same thing. Set the timer for five minutes and see who can write the most.
  • Plan a picnic for your family. Make a list of the food you want to take and the games you want to play. Then help your mom or dad get ready for the picnic. If it doesn’t suit them, have a pretend picnic with your friends and stuffed animals.
  • Keep track of the weather for a whole month on a piece of paper. Are there more sunny days, cloudy days, or rainy days where you live? Can you predict what tomorrow’s weather will be?
  • Draw a map of your house and label all the exits you could use if there was a fire. Call a meeting with your family to discuss what you would do if there was a fire.
  • Find objects around your home that begin with the consonant digraph Write or draw them on paper.
  • Cut out food pictures from magazines. Arrange the pictures into 4 categories: 1. Fruits and Vegetables 2. Dairy 3. Meats 4. Bread and Cereal. Arrange the pictures under the correct category.
  • Sit quietly outside and watch for birds. Use chalk to make tally marks on your driveway/porch/sidewalk for each bird that you see.
  • Get a book about birds and mark the ones you have seen this summer.
  • Make a paper airplane.
  • Play the What’s Missing? Find 5-10 objects. Put them on a tray or table. Have someone look at them for several seconds then close their eyes while you take one away. Can they guess what is missing? Then let them remove an item so you can guess what is missing.
  • Write the days of the week on a piece of paper. Beside each day write down the fruits and vegetables you ate.
  • Use a ruler to measure things in your house.
  • Memorize a poem or Bible verse and recite it to your family.
  • Read a book. Close the book and try to remember what happened at the beginning of the book, the middle of the book, and the end of the book.
  • Look for rocks in your neighborhood. See if you can find ten unusual rocks.
  • Imagine that you have an alligator as a pet. Write a story about it, then read it to someone else.
  • Volunteer! Ask your mom or dad if they have a job you can do.
  • Take small objects like cereal or stones and make addition and subtraction problems with them. If you are outside, write the problems with a stick in the dirt.

Are there items that you could add to the list that are specific to what you studied in your classroom this year? Did you study about the cloud types? Or memorize a Bible passage that they could recite to a grandparent? Or try different types of writing—informative, fiction, biography, etc. Try to add several things to your list that are unique to your classroom this past year.

Send them a Postcard about One of Your Summer Adventures

Whether you go camping, traveling out of the country, or studying for a week at Music Camp, you will be doing something in your summer that you do not normally do through the school year. Take a picture while on the adventure, make it into a postcard at Walmart or snapfish.com, write several sentences about your adventure, and send it off to your students.

Not only will they love the fact that you remembered them, but they will also feel the inclination to write you back.

Give Them a Call

Everyone loves to receive a phone call from a friend. And, I found that my first graders were more than thrilled to hear “Miss Stoltzfus” on the phone line. It gives them a chance to practice their “speaking-on-the-telephone” skills, and it gives you a connecting point with them over the three months of not seeing them.

Ideas of what to discuss:

  • What has been their highlight of the summer
  • Where have they visited/travelled
  • Who do they get to play with
  • Why do they like summer time
  • When have they last seen their classmates

Wishing you the best of summers as you find ways to encourage your students to keep learning.

Pass it on:


CONTRIBUTOR: Kendra Martin

Leave a Reply