Lesson Ideas and Activities
Keep your young children learning and developing this summer with these fun activities
School’s nearly out for summer and everyone (especially our little ones who have been working so hard this year) is looking forward to the break!
The summer holidays are a time to relax and to have fun with family and friends, although there are times when we wonder how we are going to keep our children entertained as the weeks go by and they are itching for something to do!
Here are some fun summer activities for your children to enjoy outdoors over the holidays, which support the Early Years Foundation Stage seven areas of learning. Why not set your class a summer holiday challenge?!
1. A Summer Theatre Performance for Communication and Language
Role play, puppet shows and summer theatre performances are sure fire ways of encouraging children to explore language and to learn how to communicate with each other. Find out what is going on in your local area as there are often performances aimed at younger children during holidays.
Children will love getting together and putting on a play in the garden if they can find a willing audience! They could have a go at filming the performance so they can watch it together later. Don’t have a full cast?
Pick a favourite story book and act it out together in the open air. You haven’t lived until you have been on a bear hunt!
An individual project for children, is a task of exploring signs. Signs are all around us, and writing and symbols are an essential means of communication.
Ask them to observe signs whenever they are out and about over the holiday. They could take pictures, make drawings and build a scrapbook of their findings.
2. Practice your Literacy Skills with a Summer Diary
Keeping a diary and building a summer scrapbook are popular ways of encouraging children of any age to practise their literacy skills over the holidays.
Younger children can have a go at a “Who Am I?” project.
They stick a picture of themselves doing a summer activity to a piece of paper, and write out a few lines about themselves and what they are doing over the holidays.
Bring it to school to show their new teacher.
A treasure hunt is mysterious and exciting and keeps children busy for hours.
They love it because they can design the hunt themselves, thinking of and writing out a sequence of clues and hiding treasure around the garden for someone else to find.
The hunter has to think hard to read and decipher the clues!
3. Feel Good Outdoor Physical Development
There is so much that you can do to get out and about and active with your children over the summer holidays. For a genuine “feel good” activity, there can be nothing better than a day outdoors, spending precious time together with family or friends and enjoying the fresh air.
A day visit to the seaside or a local river or lake provides limitless opportunities to get little limbs moving, whether paddling in the water, digging in the sand or jumping across stepping stones.
Woodland and parks around the country are easily accessible and open to everyone, perfect for running around trees and chasing after squirrels! Pack a picnic basket and head out for a good walk… who knows what adventures you will find along the way!
Read our research on Why Children Need Space to Play Outdoors
Set your class a “do something new” challenge to tackle over the holidays. Whether learning to ride a bike or scooter, or how to perfect a cartwheel, they can have fun practicing at home.
Ask them to keep a log of their journey and bring it in to show the class at the start of the new term. You could give certificates to children who have taken part and challenged themselves.
For ongoing physical activity, invite children to set up their own gardening project. They should ask their parents/carers for a small section of the garden, or a planting area or plant pot of their own.
They should be responsible for digging, weeding, lifting soil, planting seeds, watering, weeding and pruning (unconsciously working on gross and fine motor skills as they go!). You could send them home with sunflower seeds or a small strawberry plant to get them going.
Children will love digging their garden and watching the plants grow, even better enjoying the fruits of their labour when they are ripe! Ask them to take pictures and keep a log to share with the class when they go back to school.
4. A Family Tree for Personal, Social and Emotional Development
A wonderful activity to keep children busy over the holiday is to make a family tree. The idea is to gather photographs of family members going back in time as far as they can, and stick each one to individual pieces of card.
Children can interview family members to find out a bit about them, when they were born, where they have lived, what they enjoy doing and any other special thing. Write all this information on the card under the picture of each person (tailor this to match their level of ability).
If the weather is fine, hang all the cards from a tree in the garden to make a beautiful display. Otherwise take a small branch indoors, stand it in a heavy vase and hang the photos from the branch.
This is a brilliant interactive way of allowing children to discover more about who they are and where they came from, and encouraging them to develop an understanding and awareness of other people.
5. Can you Make a Mathematical Kite?
Can you make a kite? Can you make it fly?! Kite making is great fun and it’s a good mathematical activity too, involving shapes, angles, symmetry, measurement and counting.
Instructions as to how to make your own kite with household items are available on the internet, or you can buy a kite making kit from many toy shops and online stores.
Children should ask an adult to help them with some of the harder parts, so it’s a good idea if you print out a set of simple instructions to send home with them.
The hardest part is waiting for a windy day to fly it! Invite children to bring their kites in to school in September, and have a kite flying competition in the school playground!
6. Understanding of the Natural World
Ask your early learners to spend some time over the holidays hunting for, collecting and looking closely at items from nature; whether plants, flowers, fruit, or shells.
They can discuss and write about what they have found and bring their objects or observational drawings into school.
They could even have a go at growing their own small plants such as cress or mustard seeds.
Sew the seeds on little trays of damp cotton wool in class and have a discussion about how they grow and how to look after them, then take them home and watch them grow over the holidays.
7. A School Photography Competiton for Expressive Arts and Design
Hold a school photography competition!
Ask children to get out and about during the summer holidays, pick a theme such as nature, animals, plants and flowers, interesting buildings, or good old summer fun.
They should use a range of technology whether phones, tablets or traditional cameras and take pictures of their subject.
Pick their two favourites, upload and email them into school or print them out in ink and bring them in September. Issue certificates for the best/most creative photograph in each year group.
We hope that you and your children enjoy these activities and that you have a wonderful summer break whatever you are doing!
Here's some other great outdoor play blogs: