Summertime Learning Activities

From the very first warm day, you can feel the excitement. There is just something about summer time that is carefree and happy. Nevertheless, how do we balance this carefree time and make sure that children don’t lose what they learned during the school year? How do we keep preschoolers busy and thinking?

Our Child Development Staff have put together a few of our favorite summer time ideas below. If you need more ideas, call our ChildSavers’ staff with ChildCare Aware of Central Virginia and we can provide more ideas either by email, phone or in person for FREE. Just call Patricia at 804-591-7934.

Summer Time Fun Ideas from CDS

Terry Tusing, Infant Toddler Specialist Network: For the older infants and toddlers I like to encourage water play outside. Use a large, low container or baby pool for this water play activity. Freeze water in different shaped containers (some can even be colored). Put frozen water shapes in the pool or container. Add large plastic animals—- polar bears, penguins, seals, walruses. Some children may prefer to have on mittens. Enjoy the process of discovery.

Lesson taught: colors, shapes, cold, warm, and melting.

Patricia Koon, Child Care Aware of Central Virginia: Taking children fishing! Many children have never done this activity before. All you need is a fishing pole and some bait. If you do not have a fishing pole, ask around to borrow one.  Some great local places are Three Lakes Park and Dorey Park. The teaching moments are plentiful. First, showing the children how to bait a hook correctly. Second, casting the fishing line. And finally, patience. Teaching children that you do not always catch fish the first time is a valuable lesson on patience. It’s also a good lesson on delayed gratification. You can also teach the concept of catch and release! Although children under the age of 12 do not need a license to fish, the adult with children must have a license. You may go to the website for more information.

Lesson taught: Discussion about what fish eat, how they swim, how they          breathe under water, scales, and fins.

Janet Burke, Child Development Services:  Containers with water and paintbrushes. Children can use water to paint plants, fences, sidewalks, and themselves.

Lesson taught: Talk about evaporation, how the water feels on their skin, and why plants need water.

Cindy Kern, Child Development Associates Certification (CDA): You can make Flip Flop Art. Using flip-flops with different textured bottoms, allow children to use a variety of paint colors to make flip-flop prints on paper. Children can touch the bottom and talk about texture.

Lesson taught: Textures and colors.

Joyce Mason, Child and Adult Food Program:

Frog Apples*

Red and green apples, peanut butter or other spread, rice crispy cereal, miniature chocolate chips, green grapes cut in half


  • Two slices of green apples
  • Put the peanut butter or other spread between the two slices of green apples to form the mouth
  • Add rice crispy cereal for teeth
  • A small piece of red apple in the shape of a tongue, put in the middle of the mouth
  • 2 halves of green grapes for eyes
  • Lastly, add chips to center of eyes
  • You can use the peanut butter or other spread to hold the pieces in place

*Courtesy of Two Healthy Kitchens

Christina Murcin, Senior Supervisor for Virginia Quality and Infant Toddler Specialist Network: My favorite spring/summer activity to share with programs is to start an herb garden. For those inevitable rainy/hot days have fun with an indoor picnic. Provide props and invite children to stage the area. Consider serving a fresh fruit salad with herbs from your garden (basil and watermelon are delicious together).

Lesson taught: Gardening encourages using the senses and healthy eating. It teaches responsibility and highlights the importance of taking care of the environment (and all living things). Additionally, it can be used to enhance fine motor development as well as introduce science concepts.

LaTasha Smith, Voluntary Registration and Outreach:

Alphabet Ocean Sensory Bin

Supplies Needed:

  • Small toy ocean animals
  • Shells – (Big enough to write letters or numbers on the bottom)
  • A clear medium/large bin
  • Permanent marker
  • Blue food coloring
  • Write a letter or number  on each shell with a permanent marker.


Fill the bin about half full with water and dye it blue with a few drops of food coloring. Add the ocean animals and shells to the bin.

Have children take turns collecting the shells and animals out of the bin. When children choose a shell, have them say the letter or number that’s located on the bottom of the shell. Children can also choose an ocean animal to talk about with the class.

Lesson taught: This activity allows children to explore the ocean habitat and learn to recognize their letters and or numbers at the same time.

Kellie Alarcon, Infant Toddler Specialist Network: Take a big blanket outside and place it in some shade. Bring out the littlest babies to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Allow the babies to stretch and kick their legs. Imagine how the endless blue sky might look to your infants. Use the opportunity to point out the nature around you. You can bring books, rattles, and soft toys out with you as well. Try blowing bubbles up into the air so the babies can watch them float in the sky.

Lesson taught: Exploration and sensory.

Cristin McKnight, Virginia Quality CLASS Specialist: Have children help clean the classroom materials. Get everyone in their bathing suits, get lots of soapy water and sponges, and suddenly everyone is excited to clean the baby dolls or wash the chairs.

Lesson taught: Self-help skills, working as a group, and making task meaningful to children.

For school aged children, Minute to Win It type games are always fun, especially if they are messy like tying an empty tissue box around your waist, fill it with ping-pong balls, and try to shake out all the ping-pong balls.

Lesson taught: Estimation (How many balls can you shake out in 30 seconds?), exercise/gross motor, and counting (count each ball as it hits the floor).

We would love to hear your favorite summer time learning activities. How do you sneak learning into summer fun?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top