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Summer Homework Ideas For Second

Time for part two in my summer learning series!  On Thursday, I wrote part one of the series and shared summer learning tips for kiddos who have just finished Kindergarten and are going to be in first grade.  Click {here} if you missed that post.  

Just like in Thursday’s post, today I’ll go through ten tips for summer learning, and then provide a free printable PDF that teachers can give to parents.  But today I’ll be focusing on summer learning ideas for students who have finished 1st grade and will be going into 2nd.  Make sure to check out the end of the post for some summer homework for first grade!

Tips for Parents of First Graders (Rising Second Graders):

Tip #1:  Make learning fun!  You definitely don’t want summer practice to become a battle between you and your child.  Keep things fun and light by using games, technology, and educational day trips to engage your child.

Tip #2:  Use what’s free and close by.  The library is your best friend!  Visit it every week or every two weeks so your child can check out new reading material and use the computers.  Many libraries have summer reading programs with incentives (prizes!).  Use the internet to search for other opportunities in your area.  Local museums, planetariums, and even hardware stores may offer fun (and sometimes free) activities for children, especially during the summer.

Tip #3:  Motivate your child with technology!  Here are some helpful links that you and your child can visit over the summer:

– ABCya.com (variety of fun math and reading games)
– 11 Free Reading Websites (with real stories for kids to read and listen to)
– Sheppard Software (reading, math, science, and social studies games)

Tip #4:  Use apps!  Many families have smartphones, iPads, or other tablets.  Turn playtime into learning time by downloading educational apps.  Check out the links below for some reviews of age-appropriate apps for your rising second grader:

– A variety of app reviews by teacherswithapps
– Top apps for kids ages 6-8 by Smart Apps for kids
– First grade apps by Best Apps for Kids

Tip #5:  Read, read, and read some more!  Your child probably made a LOT of progress with her reading during first grade, and you certainly don’t want those gains to be lost over the summer! When choosing books that are just right for your soon-to-be second grader, have your child read aloud the first 2 pages to you.  On those first 2 pages, your child should be able to read all but about 3 of the words.  If there are more than 3 tricky words on these two pages, this is a good indication that the book is too hard for your child and will frustrate him/her.  You’ll want to choose a variety of books, of course – some that are too hard for your child but that you can read aloud to her, and some that are just right for your child to read independently.  Here are some fun books that may be appropriate for your child to read independently, or with just a little help:

Titles:  Young Cam Jansen and the Baseball Mystery (David Adler), Aunt Eater Loves a Mystery (Doug Cushman), Fox and His Friends (Edward Marshall), Poppleton Has Fun (Cynthia Rylant), Shoo, Fly Guy! (Ted Arnold), Will It Float or Sink? (Melissa Stewart), The Sun (Melanie Chrismer), Sea Turtles (Carol Lindeen), Hammerhead Shark (Deborah Nuzzolo), Neil Armstrong (Dana Rau) 

Series books are always great, because once your child gets “into” the series, she’ll want to read more and more of the books!  I also really recommend checking out some nonfiction for your child to read.  Kids at this age, especially boys, tend to enjoy nonfiction, and it’s important for them to spend time reading informational texts.  Your local librarian may have additional lists or suggestions for you, too.  In many libraries, there is an “easy reader” section that you may want to check out.

Tip #6:  Integrate learning into everyday activities.  For example, your child can easily practice writing by helping you make a grocery list.  You can dictate what you want on the list, and your child can write down the words.  Don’t focus too much on correct spelling, unless your child insists on it.  What is most important is having your child practice listening for the sounds in words and then writing them down.  Other fun summer writing ideas:  have your child keep a daily or weekly journal, write a postcard to a friend or relative, write letters to his/her first grade teacher, or write about a vacation trip.

Tip #7:  Play car games!  Here are some ideas:

– Play “Find the Alphabet.”  Look for the letters (or things that start with each letter) from A to Z, in order.  This works best for long car trips.  You can start by saying, “I see an airplane; that starts with ‘a.’  Can you find something that starts with ‘b’?”  or “I see the letter ‘a’ on that license plate.  Can you find the letter ‘b’?”

– Play “Make My Sum.”  Choose a number from 2 to 20.  Tell your child, “Can you make the number __?  Look for numbers on license plates or on signs that add up to make the number __.”  For example, you might choose the number 14 as your sum.  Your child might find the numbers 8 and 6, which make 14 when added together.  Encourage your child to look for other ways to make that same number, such as by adding 10, 2, and 2.  Then, give your child a different sum to search for, or have your child tell you a sum to search for.

– Have a sight word search.  Have your child shout out any sight words he/she sees on billboards and recognizes instantly.  

Tip #8:  Cook up something in the kitchen!  Choose a simple recipe and have your child help you make it.  You can incorporate reading skills (to read the recipe), math skills (measuring), and practical life skills.  Here are some links to child-friendly recipes:
Kids’ Recipes from Kraft

Tip #9:  Take out the camera!  Kids love working with pictures of themselves!  There are lots of learning activities that you and your child can do with photos.  Here are a few ideas:

– Take a series of pictures of your child doing a simple activity or chore (i.e. making a peanut butter sandwich).  Then, print out the pictures – 1 per page – and have your child write a book to teach someone how to do the activity.

– Have your child make an alphabet book by taking pictures of things in your home / outside that start with each letter of the alphabet.

– After taking a vacation or special trip, print out photos (1 per page).  Have your child write captions for the photos and staple them together to create a memory book.

Tip #10:  Last but not least…don’t forget to take time to relax!  Summer camps, vacations, sports games, and summer homework are great, but don’t forget to leave your child some “down time.”  When your child has free time, she’ll have the opportunity to use her imagination, be creative, and get to know herself better.  Even if your family has a busy schedule, be sure to build in some down time before the new school year begins.  Enjoy the summer!!

If you’re also looking for some summer homework practice pages for your soon-to-be second grader, check out this summer learning pack.  All you need to do is download, print, and you’ll have a wide range of activities to choose from.  Click on the picture below to learn more.

If you’d like to download the 10 tips for rising second graders in a PDF format, click on the picture below (it’s free!).

Happy learning, and have a wonderful summer!

Summer is coming up quickly! I love summer break because it helps me recharge for the next school year. But summer break doesn’t always have a positive impact on our students.

Some of our students spent most of summer break playing video games and watching television. Kids can definitely learn from video games and T.V. shows. But those activities are not as enriching as reading, visiting museums, and practicing math facts. Unfortunately, our students don’t all have equal opportunities to extend their learning during the summer.

Here are some other sobering facts about summer learning loss (from http://www.summerlearning.org):

  • Students take a significant hit in their math skills over the summer. The majority of students lose about 2 months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills (Cooper, 1996).
  • Reading achievement also declines over the summer, typically for low-income students. Most low-income students lose over 2 months in reading achievement (Cooper, 1996).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between low-income students and their higher-income peers an be attributed to unequal access to summer learning (Alexander et al, 2007).

Yikes. These statistics are scary! We also have to consider that in addition to the summer learning loss that students experience, we use up instructional time re-teaching 2 months’ worth of skills. That re-teaching cuts down on our instructional time for the year, which means students learn even less than they could be learningduring those nine months that we do have school!

We work too hard during the short time that we have our students to let them slide back during the summer! Although we don’t have control over what happens at home during the summer, we can definitely take steps to minimize summer learning loss.

In this post, I’ll share FREE parent letters with suggestions for summer learning activities, and I’ll explain why I give my kids pizza boxes to take home over the summer! I’ll also provide links to my summer homework packets.

The first thing we can do is educate parents about what they can do to prevent summer learning loss. I always provide my students’ parents with a list of 10 fun learning activities that they can do over the summer. These activities are enjoyable, simple, and usually free (for example, a car game that has students reading license plates). These lists also have book suggestions for students to read over the summer.

You can download (for free!) the summer learning tips here for your Kindergarten, first grade, or second grade students. Each packet is designed to be parent-friendly, so you can send it home “as is.” Click on the image(s) below to download the handouts that you need – they are included in both English and Spanish.

Another action we can take is to educate our students about the importance of summer learning. For the months leading up to summer break, I talk with my kids about how learning can happen at home and at school. I tell them how important it is to continue reading, writing, and practicing math over summer break. 

Then, toward the end of the school year, I begin preparing their take-home pizza boxes. I ask a local pizzeria if they would be willing to donate one (unused!) pizza box for each student. They always agree – maybe because it’s free advertising! Then, I begin filling the boxes with leftover school supplies. If necessary, I purchase more pencils and crayons to fill the boxes. The boxes are great because they’re sturdy and relatively large (less likely to be lost over the summer).

In the box, I also include a summer homework pack for each of my students. The summer homework pack provides a review of key reading and math skills that we’ve worked on throughout the year. Since I’ve taught Kindergarten through second grade, I’ve developed materials for each grade level. Here are some photos from the packs:









If you’re interested in any of these summer homework packs, click on the images above to learn more. You will probably not want to send home everything in each packet (there are tons of materials!) so you can also use some of it for end-of-the-year review.

Once the supplies and summer homework packs are in the pizza boxes, I close ’em up and send ’em home! I make the “pizza box presentation” kind of a big deal. The boxes do sit in the room for a day or two before I give them out, and the kids are just filled with curiosity…most of them think they are getting pizzas. Ha! But they are still super excited when they find out what is really inside.

I am thankful that my own upbringing was such that I did not stop learning during the summers. I feel very strongly that we need to do everything we can to provide similar experiences for our students! We certainly can’t control whether or not they actually DO the activities we suggest, but we can make our best effort to help students extend their learning into the summer.

Have you seen the effects of summer learning loss? What do you do to prevent it?


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