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It’s a fact, kids forget about 25% of what they learned during the school year while on summer break. So how do parents combat this trend? Book lists help, but there are other ways, fun ways to keep the brain cells firing and review basic skills during the summer.  Crafts, cooking, baking, and online games are all fun. Most of these can be done together or as a child's solo time, leaving you free to clean, or read, or take a bath in peace. Even MMORG's can encourage reading, spelling, typing and social skills. The following sites are kid tested and approved (by my two kids ages 9 and 17). Some require registration to access everything, but all of them are free.


Cool Math Games This site is mostly geared to elementary and early middle school kids. It contains fun math games ranging from shapes to addition to multiplication to fractions and decimals. It also has an age 3-5 area.

Cool Math Algebra CoolMath for older kids. This includes Algebra, Geometry, Trig, and Calc/pre-calc sections. It also includes a free ebook on beating math anxiety. Games for kids to practice and master multiplication. My daughter usually spends an hour a week here, voluntarily.


RIF Yes, it’s the same RIF you remember from when you were a kid! This site includes games, stories, read alongs, writing projects and more. It also has a place for kids to keep track of what they’re reading and how much they’re reading, free registration, and a kid’s own webpage.

If your child follows a particular author or book series, try searching for it. Many have sites of their own, with activities and discussion suggestions to go with your child’s favorites. I have a few included below.

American Girl Games, activities, e-cards based on the books.

Judy Blume Books, trivia, report help, and a discussion with the author on censorship.

Magic Tree House Free to register, decorate your own tree house and earn souvenirs by playing games.

How To Train Your Dragon How to Train Your Dragon is a whole series of books, with many differences from the movie, which is good for compare/contrast discussions! This site has activities and suggestions that go along with the books as well as a few online games.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Links to the Cartoon network games, information about the cartoons and new books coming out, contests, etc.


Cool Science Information and simple experiments.

Kids Health Health and science of the body. This site includes a lot of information on various disabilities that affect children.

NASA Space science games for different ages and abilities.

Solar System Another NASA site; Learn about the solar system and how we travel through it.

National Geographic for Kids Fun and simple experiments to do at home, also includes comics, jokes, games and other activities.

Social Studies:

ICivics Great for late elementary through high school students! Try constitutional law cases, argue a case before the Supreme Court, run for President, and more. Lots of good bi-partisan factual civics games.  My daughter needs some help with this site, my son loves the games and plays solo. The games here are not overly sappy or dumbed down.

American Museum of Natural History Lots of activities both online and off, crafts, etc. on many different branches of natural history.

Liberty's Kids Activities to go with the cartoons, learn about the Revolutionary War.

UK History Games and information about history, ancient to modern, mostly based in the UK.

Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg’s kid’s site. Games, videos, information.


Cooking With Kids Easy recipes for kids with adult help.

Healthy Recipes Recipes for kids with adult help. This site includes recipes for special dietary needs such as Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes, Celiac Disease, Lactose Intolerant, and Vegetarian.


Activity Village Crafts of many categories, by seasons, holidays, London Olympics, etc. (includes a lot of British Holidays)

Crayola Crafts Many crafts, you can filter by age as well as category, educational suggestions to go with the crafts included. Some crafts require Crayola products, or you can find ways around them.  As a bonus, Crayola Crayons are made in the USA, and their factories use solar power!  Has a kidzone area with games, etc.

So, next time the kids are bored, be it a rainy day or simply too hot outside to play for long, boot up the computer and try one of these fun sites. I tried to include only fun educational game sites rather than pure academic information sites (no Khan Academy for example). Your kids will be busy for hours, and they’ll be learning and reviewing as they do! If you or your kids have a favorite, please feel free to share it in comments.

Originally posted to Education Alternatives on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 05:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (14+ / 0-)

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 05:15:05 AM PDT

  •  Great list! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, rosabw, angelajean

    Wishing your kids a fun summer.

  •  Where were you when I needed you 30 years ago? (4+ / 0-)

    This is a great list.

    With my own children, what helped with the reading was to have a "book club" ... we would read the book and discuss it, from story books for my 3 year old to novels for my older children. There is a 10 year span in age between my oldest and my youngest, but she remembered and would participate in the younger ones. When she told about her books, the younger ones would ask questions and participate. My youngest taught himself to read when he was four.

    They liked the learning stuff, of course,, it probably helped that I let their chores slide by if I saw that they were busy exploring and learning. Hmmmm .... what would you rather do, vacuum and dust or read and play cook math games on the computer. LOL

    Teens were a different story.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:09:18 AM PDT

    •  30 years ago... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosabw, angelajean

      I was 12 LOL. And I read a lot too. I have a 7.5 year span between my two. They read as well, though not as much as I used to at their ages. But I don't mind them playing on the computer with the educational sites. I have some educational wii games as well, but these are new (to them) so more entertaining for now.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:20:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Novels with the teen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, rosabw

      we like to, when we discuss novels he's read, cast it for a movie, discuss what scenes we'd cut, what we'd leave in, what special effects we'd use, etc. Sometimes he draws cover art when he doesn't like the art used in the book, or if it's on kindle and he didn't see the cover art. One of his pet peeves is when the person doing the cover art doesn't seem to have actually read the book and there are huge inaccuracies.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 08:55:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that's very interesting... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't like it when the cover doesn't match the story either.  But I don't have the skills to do a cover.  I hate to ask, but, does he do a good job?  

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 11:41:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He loves to draw (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          And he's not bad, it really depends what the book is. He's better with animals and dragons than people, and he's better with hand drawing then drawing on the PC. (I think it's a generalization of skills thing again.) Sometimes he gets some odd concepts.

          "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

          by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 04:17:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm here, but a bit blurry (5+ / 0-)

    Ended up taking my oldest to the ER last night at 11, didn't get home until 5am (25 hours with no sleep), and my body still woke me up before 10!  So If I disappear it's because I crashed.

    He's ok, everyone thought it was kidney stones, instead he just has a raging UTI that's caused some swelling in.. sensitive male places. He doesn't feel pain normally due to his autism and never mentioned anything unusual until he was in too much pain to stand and white as a ghost. Autistic, overstimulated, in pain in the hospital... fun! Once they gave him morphine it was better.

    Anyway. I'm here I will do my best to stay on top of comments, but please have some patience with spelling, etc today.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 07:17:41 AM PDT

  •  Ben is out of Home school now... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, Youffraita, angelajean

    And Tech school ended.  For the first time in his life, for those 3 weeks when nothing was going on this summer, he said he was ready to go back to school because he was "bored".

    That was a first!

    I'm going to check out that "help for math anxiety".  He will be taking the Math section of his GED Wenesday (needed to continue in Tech, he went there instead of home school his senior year) and it was the ONLY one he had any trouble on in his GED pretest.

    Thanks. Florida...hope your son heals soon...that sounds kind of icky....are they pumping him up with anti-biotics?

    If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

    by rosabw on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 08:40:14 AM PDT

    •  Antibiotics and an anti-spasmodic. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, rosabw

      And yes, very icky. Not a fun thing at all.

      I hope the link helps your son. I know math anxiety all too well myself!

      As to the sites, I think it was a good sign that as I was working on the diary, and using my kids as guinea pigs to check out the sites, I was getting a lot of "Mom, stop asking me so many questions and let me PLAY"!

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 08:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Where did he do the pre-test? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Mine is getting ready to take his GED too.

      •  Each county has it's GED testing site in Georgia (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

        But he went the next county over, which is kosher here.  It happens to be a part of the Tech School he's attending.  Sometimes they are a part of high schools,etc.  He is taking his on the computer (versus pen and paper) at the college, NOT at home.  You can see if your area had this option at    ...we just found out we could Thursday.  It's just easier for Ben to do computer because he has writing issues.

        The pre-test was at the college.  He did very well in all things but math.  We tried it because we weren't sure that he might have to have accommodations because of math, but we (he and I) think he can squeak by.  I think it cost $15, not sure.  But the full GED is $160, for all 5 tests. With the gedcomputer thing he can schedule them at times that will work for him.  Otherwise, they have it proctored once a month and you have to register and pay long beforehand.

        Ben always had untimed tests in Public school, another reason why we were wondering if we should get accommodations.  But he did okay on the pretest.  If you do need accommodations you must FIRST have  recent testing done by a psychiatrist, fill out a bunch of forms and have your psych fill them out, and then the state decides if your child is eligible.  All this takes at least a month for the state to give an answer BEFORE you apply for GED testing. It's a pain in the butt to get it coordinated, and we just gave up and decided to try it without.

        Good luck.  Like I said, it's a pain, and you can't just show up on test day, at least in Georgia.

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 10:29:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm going to check out that iCivics website... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it looks very interesting.

    Thanks for all of these!

    •  The icivics site (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      angelajean, rosabw

      is very cool. My son plays it alone, my daughter needs help because some of it is a bit above her head yet and the text is too small for her to read easily. But even so, we have spent a lot of time playing on it. Haven't won a campaign for the Presidency yet though LOL.

      "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

      by FloridaSNMOM on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 09:18:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for doing another "how to" piece... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    particularly for those folks doing a more academic-focused homeschooling.

    I do second what you said in your piece about MMORG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing games).  During their unschooling years, my kids got involved in two such games online, Dark Ages and Never Winter Nights.  They had a chance to do so much that involved collaborating with others on various projects that included a lot of writing and a lot of experience with governance structures.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles

    by leftyparent on Sat Jul 21, 2012 at 09:51:12 AM PDT

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