"Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks."
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: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 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 Activitiesby 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
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.
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.
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 withprodigygame.com. Prodigy was created for students ingrades 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.
The Horrible Science series by Nick Arnold includes titles like Blood, Bones and Body Bits, Chemical Chaos, Disgusting Digestion, Nasty Nature, Electricity Sounds DreadfulandThe 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 teachescircuitry. 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.