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.
Multiplication.com 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.
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.