Summer Learning Games for Your Little Ones


As a teacher, I often saw the effects of ‘summer slide’— the term we used to categorize the slipping of knowledge over the summer.  In fact, we usually spent the first few weeks of each school year trying to get most of our students back to where they left off at the end of the last school year.

There are many ways to slow or reverse summer slide, one of which is to keep practicing skills during the break.  But it’s summer after all, so it’s also important to make it F-U-N.  Here are a few favorite learning games you can make with supplies found at your local Family Dollar.  Getting these games ready now means you’ll have them on hand to play during rainy days, car trips and quiet time—and help stop that summer slide while your child thinks they are just playing games.

Clothespin ABCs and 1,2,3s

A pack of clothespins becomes a learning game with the help of a marker and a piece of cardboard.  Write numbers on one side of each pin, and letters on the other.  The numbers and letters you write depend upon the skills you wish to reinforce as well as the level of your child.  For example, if you want to practice capital and lower case letters then write a capital and lower case on separate clothespins for each letter of the alphabet.  Kids then find the two that match and clip them together on the cardboard.   Or, practice spelling words the same way—clip letters on the cardboard to spell common sight words.


Practice math skills like counting by 5s by numbering the pins by 5s, and your child can clip the numbers in order down the side of the cardboard.  Or, write math problems on the cardboard and have your child clip the clothespin with the answer next to it.  Easy, fun, portable, and inexpensive to boot!


Ball Toss

This game is fun and gets kids moving!   Using a permanent marker, draw lines to create sections on a playground ball.  Write a number or letter in each space, depending on whether you want to practice language arts or math.  Then, toss the ball and have the child catch the ball with two hands.  Whoever catches the ball looks under their right thumb for the letter or number they’ll use for that turn.  If you want to practice reading, have them come up with an animal (or food, or place) that starts with that letter.  For spelling, perhaps challenge them to spell a word that begins with that letter.  If you are practicing math, have them add/subtract/multiply the numbers they find under each thumb when they catch with both hands.  It’s extra funny for them when they throw it back and watch you have your turn!


Dry Erase Boards

Kids love portable dry erase boards, so this is a winner!  Like the other games above, how you play depends on the skill and level of your child.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Say a word (or show a picture) and have them spell it on their board
  • Say a number and have them write it and draw dots to show how many it is
  • Write and solve math problems
  • Write words and circle a specific sound (like ‘ch’ or ‘sh’ or ‘th’)
  • Say a word that has two meanings (pear/pair) and have them draw pictures of each—and then write the correct spelling underneath
  • Write various words on the board and have your child erase them according to clues: “erase a word that means _____, or erase a word that has three vowels”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg! There are many different possibilities for this activity.  Plus, the boards are totally portable so bring them outside and use them for nature writing, or on car rides for boredom-busting fun!


Cookie Sheet Words

Magnetic letters will often stick to cookie sheets (test them before you buy, though) and kids love making words and sentences with them.  Skills like sight words, spelling, and sentence writing are so much more fun on a cookie sheet!  We also use magnets with pictures as story starters for telling stories.  Who knew baking sheets could cook up a host of different learning games?


Hopefully those ideas will start you off on a summer of learning fun.  Ordinary household objects really can turn into games once you start thinking outside of the box, just browse the aisles of Family Dollar or peek inside your own kitchen to find ways to learn with the simplest of objects.  After all, the only sliding you should do this summer is on the playground.  Wheeee!

By: Carrie of Making Lemonade                                                       Featured Products: Summer