Fun Activities that will Get Kids Learning this Summer

By Dr. Mary Rooney, Ph.D.

Children experience significant learning loss during the summer months when they do not engage in learning activates. This summer slide is responsible for up to two months of lost learning in math and up to one month of lost learning in reading. For kids with ADHD, who often finish the school year behind their peers academically, summer learning activities not only help offset the summer slide, but also help build skills that may have been missed during the school year. Unfortunately, because school is more challenging and stressful for kids with ADHD, they are typically more resistant to participating in summer learning activities. While structured academic enrichment activities are an important part of any summer learning plan, there’s also room for fun learning activities at home that won’t feel quite so much like schoolwork. When kids with ADHD are doing something that they enjoy, their resistance disappears and their enthusiasm soars!

Here are 5 creative activities that will help get your child learning while having fun this summer.

  1. Family Game Nights. Almost all board games involve some elements of reading, writing, math, planning, or strategic thinking. When kids are immersed in their favorite games they don’t realize that they are actually practicing their academic skills. Great games for practicing math skills are Phase 10, a rummy-style game that combines math and strategy and Sumoku, a crossword-style numbers game that helps kids practice foundational math concepts. To encourage reading, try Apples to Apples, which requires reading on every card, and Bananagrams, a Scrabble-like game that’s allows kids to create words without the rules and limitations that come with using the Scrabble board.
  2. Write a Blog. Blogging provides kids with an excellent opportunity for self-expression while they are practicing writing and communication skills. Blogging is one writing activity that most kids are excited to try because they can choose topics that they find interesting, and they can share their interests with family and friends. Positive feedback from blog readers helps build confidence and encourages more posts (and more writing!). Choose a blogging site that allows you to password protect blog posts, so they can only be viewed by readers with the password. And always review your child’s blogs before they are posted. Teach your child about online safety by discussing ground rules for blog topics and blog content. Edublogs ( is a great blogging platform created just for students. It allows for password protected posts, and is free for student users.
  3. Expert for a Day. Sometimes the best way to learn something is to teach it. When we teach others we are more attentive to details and we think more critically and deeply about a topic. Encourage your child to teach you and other members of the family by making them an “Expert for a Day” this summer. With the help of your child find a local historical site or educational attraction (the zoo, a marina, a nature preserve) that you and your family can visit this summer. Have your child learn about the site or attraction through research online and at the library. Allow your child to take the lead on your family outing and play the role of tour guide for the attraction. Encourage your child to take notes while he or she researches so he or she can remember the important details when you are all at the site. Your child will love taking the lead and the whole family will learn from the experience.
  4. Cooking and baking are simple, every day activities that provide excellent learning opportunities. Kids use their math and reading skills, practice following multi-step instructions, and even learn about science! The Exploratorium’s Science of Cooking website ( includes recipes and activities that teach kids about the science of cooking in a way that is engaging and interactive. Their Bread Science 101 page ( teaches about the chemical reactions that occur when dough ingredients are mixed together and yeast is added to help the bread rise. Combine this website with a simple “bread in a bag” recipe ( and you have a learning experience that every kid will enjoy.
  5. EarthCaching. Everyone loves to go on a scavenger hunt! Geocaching has taken the hunt to a new level with hidden containers (caches) all over US (and the world) that can be discovered using a simple smartphone GPS tool. To make Geocaching more educational, focus your family’s search on EarthCache sites. EarthCaching is a scavenger hunt for geographical and geological caches. EarthCache sites are listed on and in the Geocaching app. When you search for a Geocache on the site or app, check the “EarthCache” box under “Geocache types” to find these unique sites!

Finding creative ways to engage your child in learning over the summer will go a long way in helping him or her start the new school year off with confidence. Your child will enjoy learning and will be excited to “grow his or her brains” while having fun!



Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney is a researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.


Huntington Learning Center is the tutoring and test prep leader. Its certified tutors provide individualized instruction in reading, phonics, writing, study skills, elementary and middle school math, Algebra through Calculus, Chemistry, and other sciences. It preps for the SAT and ACT, as well as state and standardized exams. Huntington programs develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to help students of all levels succeed and meet the needs of Common Core State Standards. Founded in 1977, Huntington's mission is to give every student the best education possible. Call us today at 1.800.CAN LEARN to discuss how Huntington can help your child. For franchise opportunities please visit

This website does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only.

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