Moving Beyond Traditional Summer Packets, Part 2

Do you think teachers need to change the way they design summer packets?

That is the question I asked in my first post about summer packets. [I had fond memories of summer packets when I was in elementary school.] Now that the Common Core is driving our instruction, I wondered if teachers needed to redesign summer packets to include the critical skills students need to succeed with the new standards.

I personally believe that traditional summer packets are important for helping students practice basic skills. However, I do believe that we need to add more activities that reflect the Common Core to our summer packets. We should also be open to the different types of activities that students can use for summer learning. 

I have hunted around the Internet for some activities and resources to help promote a well-rounded summer learning experience. These activities can be used to enhance your summer packet or to provide your students with a totally different learning experience. 


Let the Exploration Begin….

Here are my top three resources for adding Common Core skills to summer packets: 

1. Playtime: It may sound so simple and obvious, but our students spend less time playing outside today than when we were kids. Please do not take this as an attack on parenting. It is more a recognition of the value of play and its impact on children’s emotional and intellectual growth. [When I was younger, I spent my entire summer outside. I only came in to eat or go to the bathroom.]

As kids, we learned how to socialize with other kids and to solve our own problems. We learned how to think on our feet and how to search for other options. I believe that playtime should be at the top of your students’ summer vacation to-do list. 

You can find resources for fun summer indoor and outdoor activities when you visit the Modern Parents, Messy Kids blog. There are activities that involve building, art, and exploration. Actually, quite a few of these activities look pretty cool. The best part? The entire family can participate in these activities.

Penguin holding books.

2. Reading: All research about preventing the summer slide, highlights the success of self-selected reading in improving students’ reading ability. Motivation is also the key to encouraging students to read during the summer.

Fun activities are the best motivation you can use to encourage reading. I have already told you about using reading lists based on themes in my post, Summer Reading Lists, Using Themes to Explore Books. You can also check your public library and local businesses for summer reading programs.  Many of these lists now include nonfiction reading choices.

Barnes & Noble has always sponsored summer reading programs. However, did you know that Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut, and  Pottery Barn also sponsor summer reading programs? Children can receive free tokens from Chuck E. Cheese, free books from Barnes & Noble, and other freebies after completing their programs.

Scratch (Ages 8+)
Scratch (Ages 8+)

3. Digital Learning: There are many educational iPad and Android apps in addition to websites that your students can explore. In my earlier post, EdTech Saturday: Education Website, I talked about one of my favorite websites that I have used with my Basic Skills students. Fun4theBrain has games that help students practice their basic math facts.

In my series IPads and Basic Skills are Perfect Together, I talked about language arts and math apps that my students have enjoyed playing in my classroom. Some of my favorites are Math vs Dinosaurs and Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe

Finally, I am also a huge fan of Computer Coding apps and websites! These apps and websites are a great way to get children to develop their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. I have a list of apps on my page, Hour of Code: Computer Applications and Tablet Apps. You can also visit and still has its free Hour of Code apps available and computer programming courses that you can also purchase.’s courses are available for free. 

When you add a variety of learning activities to summer packets, the experience becomes less about homework and more about fun exploration.

(First Published May 2015)