Look, we know how it is: kids look forward to summer vacation because it promises a full two months with no learning. Unfortunately, when it comes to brains, off-time is not good. Summer Learning Loss is a very real phenomena, and it’s possible for students to “unlearn” up to 2 months of material that they learned during the school year.
Our own Howard Education team just returned from ISTE 2015, and we are inspired by the educators who are doing their best to make learning fun and interactive. We saw lots of exciting visions of the future of edtech and the new ways that students are using technology to shape their worlds.
So how do we fight the annual brain-cell-backslide without taking all the fun out of the summer? Technology can be the answer! Luckily, many websites out there are just as fun as they are educational: perfect for keeping little ones entertained and engaged in the summer months. They may not even realize they’re learning!
Check out our 5 favorites, and leave us a comment to let us know your favorite ways to keep the learning going all summer!
1.PBS Nova Labs
In their words, the PBS Nova Labs are a “digital platform where ‘citizen scientists’ can actively participate in the scientific process”. In our words, it’s a must-do for any science-minded kiddos. PBS has worked with leading scientists to develop a series of “lab” activities that let kids explore weather, energy, cybersecurity, and more! Each lab includes videos and games that deal with real issues that scientists today are facing.
Don’t miss: the Cybersecurity lab, which teaches kids about the importance of online safety features and safe browsing habits.
2. Mental Floss
This online companion to Mental Floss magazine is chock-full of delightful blurbs on everything from neuroscience (why we sometimes forget words that we know) to sociology (why do kids get a summer vacation) to history (that one time Ulysses S. Grant got a speeding ticket). The website is colorful, engaging, and easy to understand, and it’s not hard to spend hours at a time reading articles or taking quizzes.
Don’t miss: the Amazing Fact Generator, which cranks out fresh nuggets of novel information at the click of a button.
3. Google Smarty Pins
Google’s Smarty Pins game is a great way to get students interested in geography. Players are asked a question, and they must then guide Pegman to the city that answers the question by dropping a pin in the correct place on the map. It’s a fun cross between a trivia game and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and kids will come away with a better understanding of where in the world things are located.
iCivics is a nonprofit organization founded by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to inspire American students to become involved in civic leadership. The games featured on the website are meant to “place students in different civic roles and give them agency to address real-world problems and issues”. iCivics is a great website for older elementary to middle school students who are just learning about the roles and challenges of the U.S. Government.
Don’t miss: Do I Have a Right?, a game which lets kids build their own law firm to learn about the U.S. Constitution.
There you have it, 4 of our favorite sites to keep kids learning all summer. How do you avoid summer learning loss? Comment and let us know!