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.
- TinkerLab: A Hands-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 tinkerlab.com 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
- At A. Pintura: Art Detective kidsites.com/sites-edu/art.htm 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 at artist-trading-cards.ch
- artsonia.com is an online art gallery where kids can post art work
for others to see.
- kinderart.com is the largest collection of free art lessons on the Internet.
- artinthepicture.com provides full color images, videos, and links to online museums providing an informative introduction to art history. This is a wonderful resource for older children.
- Go online with 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.
- Rainbow Resource Center www.rainbowresource.com 40,000 homeschooling and educational products at discount prices.
- Jerry’s Artarama www.jerrysartarama.com A huge selection of art supplies at great prices.
- Music in Motion www.musicmotion.com 6,000 music, movement and dance education resources.
- Thames and Kosmos’ www.thamesandkosmos.com Hands on science kits.
- Carolina Biological www.carolina.com Leading supplier of science teaching materials.
Computer Programming and Coding for Kids
- khanacademy.org offers free classes in animation, website design and data
HTML & CSS
- Code Monster exposes young children to some of the most basic elements of coding in an accessible and fun filled way.
- scratch.mit.edu teaches kids to program interactive stories, games, and animations.
- hackety.com teaches Ruby, a general programming language.
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
- The International Cookbook for Kids by Matthew Locricchio
- Kids Cooking Without A Stove by Aileen Paul
- 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
- gusonthego.com teaches 28 languages. Classes includes 10 interactive leson, vocabulary reviews and engaging games to keep things fun.
- littlepim.com publishes a popular series of interactive language learning books, DVDs, and CDs.
- mangolanguages.com helps users practice conversations in over 60 foreign languages
- duolingo.comis 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.
- 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.
- Learn about genealogy at genealogy.about.com
- From the comfort of your living room, visit the British Museum. Enjoy a virtual tour and see 4,634 artifacts housed in the museum.
- Qualitent is a list of historical movies that will be of interest to kids.
- With fascinating stories and compelling photography and illustrations, Cobblestone Magazine brings American history to life for readers ages 9-14
- The Barnes and Noble summer reading program awards participants with a free book when they read any 8 books.
- Pizza Hut sponsors several fun reading challenges for kid through their Book It program
- Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program is not just for Mensa members. Participants in this year-round program earn a certificate and a t-shirt for reading all of the books in this book challenge.
- Create your own neighborhood Reading Challenge! Help your readers establish the number of books they will read over the summer. If they need help coming up with titles, show them the Book Adventure website. It has an amazing book finder resource.
- The Book Adventure website also helps kids register their contest and track their points and progress along the way.
- 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.
- Keep math skills sharp with prodigygame.com. 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!
- 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, 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 ChildrenbyLynn Seddon is a year-long curriculum for nature studies. This E-book can be purchased at raisinglittleshoots.com
- What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem,
- Backyard Adventure: How to Create Outdoor Play Spaces for Kids
by Paula Brooks
Online Tools for Learning
- MOOC List
- OpenCourseWare Consortium
- MIT OpenCourseWare
- Tufts OpenCourseWare
- Johns Hopkin OpenCourseWare
- Yale OpenCourseWare
- Khan Academy
- My Own Business, Inc.
- Dream.In.Code Tutorials
- Purdue Online Writing Lab
- Project Gutenberg
- Learning Styles Quiz
- The Horrible Science series by Nick Arnold includes titles like Blood, Bones and Body Bits, Chemical Chaos, Disgusting Digestion, Nasty Nature, Electricity Sounds Dreadfuland 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.co 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
- A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.,David A. Adler and Robert Casilla
- A Picture Book of Rosa Parks, David A. Adler
- One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia,
- Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
- Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever, H. Joseph Hopkins
- Seeds of Change: Wangari’s Gift to the World, Jen Cullerton Johnson
- The Harvey Milk Story, Kari Krakow
- Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World, Laurie Lawlor
- Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909, Michelle Markel
- Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell
- What Does Peace Feel Like? Vladimir Radunsky
- Luna & Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest,
Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
- Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah,
Laurie Ann Thompson
- Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation, Duncan Tonatiu
- 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
- Life Skills Activities for Special Children 2nd Edition, Darlene Mannix
- Social Skills Activities for Special Children 2nd Edition, Darlene Mannix
- Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs, 2nd Edition 2nd Edition Darlene Mannix
- Social Skills Activities for Secondary Students with Special Needs 2nd Edition, Darlene Mannix
- Connected Kids: Help Kids with Special Needs (and Autism) SHINE with mindful, heartfelt activities, Lorraine E Murray
- Making Art Special: A Curriculum for Special Education Art, Helen Goren Shafton
- A listing of over 200 camps serving special needs children
- Kinderart has ctivities and lesson plans for children and adults with disabilities
- Educational games and activities
- 5 preschool activity ideas
- 20 Fun Activity ideas
- Physical Activities for Special Needs Children
- Lights Out!: Kids Talk About Summer Camp, 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
- The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp, Stan and Jan Berenstain
- Tacky Goes to Camp, Helen Lester
- Froggy Goes to Camp. Jonathan London
- Postcards from Camp, Simms Taback
- The American Camp Association’s site campparents.org is a comprehensive resource maintained by summer camp professionals.
- A listing of over 200 camps serving special needs children can be found here
- Summercamps.com matches your child’s interests with summer camp programs.
- ASM International Materials Camp at Drexel
- The Williams College Math Camp (WCMC)
Travel with Kids
- 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 Travelling 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
- sixsuitcasetravel.com helps large families find hotel accommodations