It is hard to believe that students will be saying goodbye to one grade level in just a few short weeks and will have a summer off before the next one begins. For most families, summer plans are well underway.
As you plan for the summer, have you taken time to think about how you’ll incorporate academics into your summer plans? As teachers, we often dread the so-called “Summer Slip”— students losing ground academically because of a lengthy time off from concentrated learning. This summer, why not incorporate fun and interactive activities into your plans that will help alleviate this slip and keep your kids on the path to academic success?! Over the next several weeks, we will be providing ideas on how to do just that. Each week we will look at a new subject area. Not only will the activities provide opportunities for learning and fun, but they may just serve as boredom busters as well. This week, let’s take a look at social studies ideas.
Social Studies Day Trips or Family Vacations
As a child, our family took a trip each summer. Often, this trip was associated with what we had learned that year in school or what we would be learning the next year. Some were elaborate, and others were simpler. Regardless, they afforded us the opportunity to experience places and people first-hand and gave greater insight and understanding to the content we had or would study. If you’re unsure what to do for a getaway this year, consider planning it around a topic of past or future study from social studies classes. Here are some examples based on typical learning progressions by grade level, but it is also a good idea to talk to your child’s current or future teachers at school to get a better idea of what has been or will be taught in social studies. Be creative, and think about what little gems may be worth visiting in your community, state, or surrounding areas.
• Local trips for lower elementary grades: Early elementary students typically study about their own immediate neighborhoods and communities. Consider a trip to a local factory to see how products are made. Go and see local government offices and explain what they do. Take a tour of your own city or visit a local museum. Visit and volunteer at a local non-profit or charity to see how communities help their community members. Participate in a community event such as a holiday celebration.
• State-wide trips for upper elementary grades: Upper elementary students typically learn about the state they are from and its history at this age. Design a trip throughout your state that incorporates key cities and landmarks associated with its history. Find a few historical sites from early American history to visit in your state such as old forts. Visit your state capitol, and talk about your state government.
• National getaways for middle school grades: Middle school students learn about our national government and our nation’s history. Take a trip to one of our nation’s founding cities out east or to another key area in our nation’s history that is closer to home. Consider a trip to a colonial village, or tour a modern-day government hub.
• International excursions for high school grades: As world language classes and international relations become the focus in high school, consider a larger trip either this summer or in the future. Experiencing how others live, talk, and govern are hugely eye-opening. Consider going to a place that speaks the language your child is studying. Go and explore a country that influenced a certain time period in history. The possibilities are endless!
Social Studies Activities at Home
If a trip is not in your budget this summer, you can still engage kids in furthering their social studies learning. Consider finding a pen pal for them (such as a childhood friend’s child) who lives in another state or country, and have them start a snail mail exchange. Snail mail is a treat these days, and learning about someone else’s life and culture is important life learning! Research what your library has to offer, and check out books and movies related to learning themes to enjoy as a family throughout the summer.
Whatever you do, be intentional about helping your kids learn and enjoy social studies this summer.
If you love this post, make sure to also check out these which are part of our Children’s Summer Learning series:
Interactive Children’s Science Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Math Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Writing Activities for Summertime
Interactive Children’s Social Studies Activities for Summertime