Summer Learning–Summer Fun

Our favorite activities for nurturing literacy during your days in the sun.

Last weekend marked the June Solstice, the longest day of the year in daylight hours, and the astronomical beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere.

That means it’s time to “Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer,”
as the old song says. 

Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, who first made a formal study of cognitive development in children, famously said, “Play is the work of the young child.”

At Carousel, we understand the importance of education through play.

We believe that the greatest measure of our program’s success is joyful children engaged in an enchanting, immersive learning environment, embracing the beauty of different languages and cultures. 

Our research-supported methodology is based on structured play and experiential, multisensory learning; our curriculum and beautiful Carousel home are designed to inspire curiosity and a passion for discovery—we encourage children to enthusiastically EXPLORE THEIR WORLD!

However you plan to spend your summer vacation, we hope your family will get to relax, play, get outside, explore, read, create, daydream, and spend some quality downtime together bonding.

Looking for some ways to nurture your preschooler’s early literacy and continue foreign language practice?

Carousel’s favorite activities for summer learning through summer fun!

Can't get to the beach today?​

No problem! You can play in the sand, keep cool, and nurture early literacy—and fine motor skills—right at home.

  • Make a sensory board for practicing letters. All you need is a tray or large plate and some sand (salt or flour also work great). Pour a thin layer of sand into the tray and show your child how to write letters, his name, sight words, and more with his finger.

  • Children love water play. This simple game will help your child practice letter recognition, spelling her name, and fine motor skills:

Go fish! 

Fill a baby pool, bathtub, or bucket with a couple inches of water.

Use a marker to label some table tennis balls (or other small floatable toys—you can even cut simple, cute fish shapes out of dollar store sponges!) with the letters of your child’s name, plunk them in the pool, and let her fish them out with a small net (easy to find at your local toy, dollar, or pet store)

Ask her to try to “catch” them in the proper order, spelling out her name.

Or try it with numbers to practice counting!

NEVER leave a young child unattended around water for even a moment. Stay at an arm’s length at all times.

Get Outside and Get Creative!

Sidewalk chalk is a summer favorite for drawing pictures and practicing letters; it’s great for outdoor play and clean-up is quick and easy.

Want to really get your little Van Gogh’s creative juices flowing? Try this fun twist—homemade sidewalk chalk PAINT!

All you’ll need:

  • A few small plastic containers or a muffin tin 
  • Water 
  • Cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Paint brushes

In a large jar with a lid, mix equal parts water and cornstarch. Shake vigorously to mix. Pour into individual containers and add food colors.

Paint the sidewalk or driveway with pictures, letters, words, fun messages for your neighbors…go wild! Why not practice vocabulary from one of our Carousel themes such as Fruit or Summer! 

Wash it all away with a little spray of the hose… or enjoy your masterpiece till a rainy day.

A Funny Little Friend

Sometimes summer days get lonely. No playmate around today? Your child will love making a sock puppet to be his soft little reading and storytelling buddy.

All you need is an old sock, and some things to decorate it with: markers, google eyes or buttons, pom-poms, yarn, felt/fabric scraps—whatever you can think of.

In addition to being a delightful art project, puppets are wonderful tools for language development. Toddlers and young children love to speak to/through puppets. Puppets allow them to practice sentence construction and vocabulary, and can be helpful in talking about feelings. A child who is shy will sometimes feel more comfortable talking, reading, and expressing himself with a puppet. 

Read, Read, Read!

Read to your child every day!

For babies and toddlers, look for books that have rhythm, rhyme, and repetition. Even before a child can focus on picture books poems and nursery rhymes develop important components of early literacy, such as phonological awareness.

Engage multiple senses with touch and feel books.

Starting in toddlerhood, prompt your child to talk with you about what you’re reading together. Make it exciting! “Uh oh! Pete the Cat stepped in a big pile of strawberries and turned his new white shoes red! How do you think he feels? What will he do?” 

Create a book nook! Set up a special place, a comfy corner or favorite chair to be your child’s reading place. Let her help design it! Keep a basket of favorite books there, maybe a “lovey” toy, puppet, or soft blanket and pillow. 

A World of Words!

Get excited for summer fun and create a print-rich environment by labeling your child’s belongings.

According to LeapFrog, print-rich environments help early readers to:

  • Recognize print in their surroundings
  • Understand that print carries meaning
  • Know that print is used for many purposes

Get some sticky notes or mailing labels and write the names of all the important summer things in your child’s world. Sandals, bucket, shovel, suitcase, bathing suit, water bottle… Let her help you think of what she’ll need for her summer vacation or “staycation.”

Cook Up Some Fun!

Preparing a meal or special treat together is wonderful bonding time. Following a simple recipe practices early math and reading skills.

Nurture print awareness and increase vocabulary by reading the recipe together. Decide what ingredients you’ll need and prepare a shopping list. Talk through the items with your child as she watches you write them down. Then take a trip to the grocery store; search for the things together, read the packages, and cross them off your list. 

Enjoy conversation while you cook and eat. Cleaning up together afterward teaches cooperation and shared responsibility. 

Teddy Bear Picnic

Spread a blanket in your yard, on your balcony, or at the park (on a rainy day the living room will do).

Bring along some treats, a few dolls, bears, or other stuffed toys, and your family’s favorite books. Take turns reading/retelling the stories to your “guests.”  

This lovely, simple, rhyme-filled book will take you on an enchanting journey through Claude Monet’s beautiful paintings, for a picnic in the French countryside. 

Then just lie back on your blanket and watch the clouds go billowing by. Drifty summer daydreams are good for your child’s imagination, and offer a wealth of cognitive and social-emotional benefits. 

Carousel offers enchanting Summer Programs—in-person and online!

Have a wonderful summer full of playful learning, Carousel Family!

Sources and Further Reading