Summer Learning Resource Guide

Summer Learning Resource Guide

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” Dr. Seuss

I feel fortunate to be a part of the information age and to live in a time when learning resources are accessible and plentiful.  But the information age can be overwhelming and distracting as well. There is so much good stuff in the bookstores and online and, if you are like me, you hate the possibility of missing any of it! In the quest to find the perfect resources, don’t lose sight of your primary objective—being present and open to fun-filled moments with your child.

To simplify your summer research needs, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite resources. Books, online classes, educational organizations, and websites are all organized by subject themes. Titles and websites referenced throughout this guide are marked with an asterisk.

For more fun ideas and resources to spice up your family’s summer learning plan, browse our Summer Goodies section and our recent summer learning podcasts!

Art for Summer Learning

  • TinkerLab:AHands-on Guide for Little Inventors by Rachelle Doorley is a collection of original hands-on, open-ended art and science projects for children ages 2-5. Doorley’s dynamic website is also full of fantastic ideas and not to be missed.
  • Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by Mary Ann F. Kohl and Kim Solga features 110 art appreciation activities for kids. The styles and techniques of the great masters, ranging from the Renaissance to the Present, are presented along with a brief biography of each artist. Unique project ideas accompany each unit using such mediums as painting, drawing, sculpture, photography and architecture.
  • Art Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Adventures in Drawing, Painting, Printmaking, Paper, and Mixed Media-For Budding Artists of All Ages is part of a series of books by Susan and Rainer Schwak and is full of fun ideas to help introduce art to children.
  • Art Lab for Little Kids: 52 Playful Projects for Preschoolers by Susan and Rainer Schwak is written for children ages 4-6 year olds.
  • The For Kids series introduces children to people, events, and ideas that have made an  impact on the world. The lives of scientists, writers, artists, humanitarians and politicians are examined. Hands-on project ideas accompany each book. Art titles from this series are:
    • Monet and the Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities by Carol Sabbeth
    • Van Gogh and the Post-Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, 21 Activities by Carol Sabbeth
    • Leonardo da Vinci for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities by Janis Herbert
  • A. Pintura: Art Detective. Kids become detectives who use what they learn about composition and style to match artists with specific works.
  • Artist Trading Cards are miniature works of art done on card stock that are traded between artists. Guidelines for this fun activity can be found on their site.
  • Artsonia is an online art gallery where kids can post art work
    for others to see.
  • KinderArt is the largest collection of free art lessons on the Internet.
  • YouTube for drawing tutorials from the experts. Simply enter a search term such as “how to draw dragons” and see what comes up.

Business and Finance

  • Money Making Ideas for Kids and Teens: Starting Your Own Business-A Guide for Teen Entrepreneurs  by Debbie Madson
  • The Kids’ Money Book: Earning * Saving * Spending * Investing * Donating by Jamie Kyle McGillian
  • The Everything Kids’ Money Book: Earn it, save it, and watch it grow! by Brette McWhorter Sember
  • Starting Your Own Business by Ron Piscatelli
  • Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win with Money by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze
  • Monopoly is a classic and a family favorite for good reason. Have fun with your family and develop your child’s understanding of investments and development.
  • Stock Market – The Wall Street Trading Game is a board game that introduces players to important financial concepts.
Online resources
  • Kidnexions is a savings, allowance and money management software
    program designed especially for kids.
  • YoungPreneur teaches entrepreneurial thinking to students of all ages.

Resource Catalogs

Computer Programming and Coding for Kids

  • Khan Academy offers free classes in animation, website design and data
    management systems.
  • Codecademy is a series of free online courses in Python, JavaScript, Ruby,
    HTML & CSS
  • Code Monster exposes young children to some of the most basic elements of coding in an accessible and fun filled way.
  • Scratch teaches kids  to program interactive stories, games, and animations.
  • Coding for Summer Learning

Cooking with Kids

  • Baking with Kids: Make Breads, Muffins, Cookies, Pies, Pizza Dough, and More!
    by Leah Brooks
  • The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
  • Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Megan Carle and Jill Carle
  • Snacktivities!:50 Edible Activities for Parents and Young Children by
    MaryAnn F.Koh
  • The International Cookbook for Kidsby Matthew Locricchio
  • Kids Cooking Without A Stove by Aileen Paul

Cultural Exchange

  • Living with Your Exchange Student by Ina Cherington
  • The Exchange Student Survival Kit by Bettina Hansel
  • Host Family Survival Kit: A Guide for American Host Families by Nancy King
    and Ken Huff
Online Resources

Foreign Language

  • Gus on the Go teaches 28 languages. Classes includes 10 interactive lessons, vocabulary reviews and engaging games to keep things fun.
  • Little Pim publishes a popular series of interactive language learning books, DVDs, and CDs.
  • Mango Languages helps users practice conversations in over 60 foreign languages
  • Duolingo is a free language learning site with a unique approach. Like a fast paced video game, users earn points for correct answers, race against the clock and level up. Lessons are short and easy to fit into even the busiest teen’s summer schedule.
  • Maximize Summer Learning with Foreign Language Studies
Freebies and Discounts
  • Bank of America museum discounts. Cardholders get one free general admission to 150 museums nationwide the first full weekend of every month.
  • Free monthly classes at Home Depot and Lowe’s.

History for Summer Learning

  • Learn about genealogy at
  • From the comfort of your living room, visit theBritish Museum. Enjoy a virtual tour and see 4,634 artifacts housed in the museum.
  • With fascinating stories and compelling photography and illustrations, Cobblestone Magazine brings American history to life for readers ages 9-14.

Language Arts for Summer Learning

  • In her books Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink  and Writing Magic, bestselling children’s author, Gail Carson Levine shares her secrets of great writing in this companion to the popular Writing Magic.   
  • What Do Authors and Illustrators Do?by Eileen Christelow will inspire young writers and artists as they read about the process of creating a book. Creative writing and drawing exercises are also included.

Math Summer Resources

  • Keep math skills sharp with Prodigy. Prodigy was created for students in grades 1-8 and designed to align with common core standards. Kids love the games graphics and fun story line, while parents appreciate progress reports that track the child’s performance.If your old child enjoys math, mathematician Arthur Benjamin’s work is sure to be a hit. Author of Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician’s Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks and many other books, Benjamin is famous for his own astounding mental math capabilities.  Watch his online TED Talk program titled Mathemagics
  • The Story of Maths is a 4 part BBC documentary that traces the history of math and is a perfect way to combine history and math.
  • Quirky mathematician Vi Hart’s YouTube channel  is a must see. I guarantee, there’s nothing out there quite like it!

Nature Studies for Summer Learning

  • Wildflowers, Blooms & Blossoms (Take Along Guides) by Diane Burns
  • Trees, Leaves & Bark (Take Along Guides) by Diane Burns
  • Caterpillars, Bugs and Butterflies: Take-Along Guide by Mel Boring
  • Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock
  • Bird Watching for Kids: Bite-sized Learning & Backyard Projects by George H. Harrison
  • Composting: Nature’s Recyclers by Robin Koontz
  • Exploring Nature with Children byLynn Seddon is a year-long curriculum for nature studies. This E-book can be purchased at Raising Little Shoots.
  • What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem,
    by Suzanne Slade
  • Backyard Adventure: How to Create Outdoor Play Spaces for Kids
    by Paula Brooks

Online Tools for Summer Learning

Science for Summer Learning

Books and Magazines
  • The Horrible Science series by Nick Arnold includes titles like Blood, Bones and Body Bits, Chemical Chaos, Disgusting Digestion, Nasty Nature, Electricity Sounds Dreadful and The Terrible Truth About Time. Filled with pictures, trivia, fun facts and science, these are books even reluctant readers will enjoy.
  • Monster Science series by Mark Weakland is written in graphic novel format and is such great fun. Using vampires, zombies, werewolves and ghosts, Weakland demonstrates basic principles of science. Titles include Aliens and Energy, Bigfoot and Adaptation, Ghosts and Atoms, Zombies and Forces and Motion to name just a few.
  • MUSE is a science and arts magazine written for kids ages 9-14. Filled with facts, jokes and thought provoking articles, kids with a love of science will love this magazine too.
  • EEME is an outstanding hands-on program that teaches circuitry. Learning happens
    through the use of monthly kits mailed to your home and used in conjunction with
    YouTube instructional videos.
  • Watch scientist Bill Nye as he entertains and educates on syndicated episodes of his long running PBS series, Bill Nye the Science Guy. 
  • Astronomer Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was compelling accessible programming when it aired in 1980  and it holds up all these years later. Find episodes on YouTube and learn about the cosmological theories of the universe.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson pays homage to Sagan’s popular program. This stunning series explores the mysteries of the cosmos in a way young people will find compelling and entertaining.

Books to Inspire Social Consciousness

Picture Books
  • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler and Robert Casilla
  • A Picture Book of Rosa Parks, by David A. Adler
  • One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia,
    by Miranda Pau
  • Grandfather Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
  • Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, by H. Joseph Hopkins
  • Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World, by Jen Cullerton Johnson
  • The Harvey Milk Story, by Kari Krakow
  • Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World, by Laurie Lawlor
  • Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, by Michelle Markel
  • Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
  • What Does Peace Feel Like? by Vladimir Radunsky
  • Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest,
    by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
  • Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah,
    by Laurie Ann Thompson
  • Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, by Duncan Tonatiu
Books for Older Readers
  • Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things
    by Kelly Curtis MS
  • Gaia Warriors by Nicola Davies and James Lovelock
  • The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference by Barbara A. Lewis
  • The New 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth by EarthWorks Group and Sophie Javna
  • The Teen Guide to Global Action: How to Connect with Others (Near & Far) to Create Social Change by Barbara A. Lewis
Additional Online Resources

Special Education

  • Life Skills Activities for Special Children 2nd Edition, by Darlene Mannix
  • Social Skills Activities for Special Children 2nd Edition, by Darlene Mannix
  • Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs, 2nd Edition 2ndEdition by Darlene Mannix
  • Social Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs 2nd Edition, by Darlene Mannix
  • Connected Kids: Help Kids with Special Needs (and Autism) SHINE with mindful, heartfelt activities, by Lorraine E Murray
  • Making Art Special: A Curriculum for Special Education Art, by Helen Goren Shafton
Online Resources

Summer Camp Books and Virtual Resources

Reference Books
  • Lights Out!: Kids Talk About Summer Camp, by Eric Arnold and Jeff Loeb
  • Summer Fun: The Parents’ Complete Guide to Day Camps, Overnight Camps, Specialty Camps, and Teen Tours by Marian Edelman Borden
  • The Summer Camp Handbook: Everything You Need to Find, Choose and Get Ready for Overnight Camp-and Skip the Homesickness by Christopher A. Thurber PhD
Picture Books
  • The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp, by Stan and Jan Berenstain
  • Tacky Goes to Camp, by Helen Lester
  • Froggy Goes to Camp by Jonathan London
  • Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback
Online Resources

Travel with Kids During the Summer

  • 100 Places That Can Change Your Child’s Life: From Your Backyard to the Ends of the Earth by Keith Bellows and Natalie Morales
  • Travel with Children: The Essential Guide for Traveling Families (Lonely Planet Travel With Children) by Lonely Planet
  • Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids by Bill Richards and
    E. Ashley Steel
Online Resources
Virtual Field Trips

For more summer learning inspiration dive into our Summer Learning Podcasts!

Have you seen the rest of our Summer Slide Resources?

101 Things to Do this Summer  Summer Freebies with  101 Things to Do this Summer