Fun Learning Activities for Summer: Fighting the “Summer Slide”

Last time we talked about how Novel Engineering is a flexible way to transform your reading lessons by adding engineering challenges, and specifically how Novel Engineering Challenges were created to add a fun and interactive element of competition to this approachable implementation of engineering in the classroom, even if you don’t have much time.

Now that school is coming to a close and summer is upon us, “fun” and “interactive” take center stage. Summer is when kids have a chance to relax and disconnect from the rigors of academics, and research tells us that having unstructured free time and being bored is good for kids’ growing brains. They need that time to think freely, discover interests on their own and put their recently-acquired knowledge into practice outside the confines of a classroom.  

That said, a quick internet search turns up scores of studies showing learning setbacks as a result of summer holiday, particularly among young readers. Teachers spend a good portion of the fall semester catching kids up – valuable time for both the students and the teachers. Time that could be spent growing rather than retracing. The summer slide is real, people.

As with most things in life, balance is key. Summer break is an essential part of childhood, and the respite is good for a child’s development. At the same time, it’s better for everyone if kids don’t lose much of the ground they gained during the school year. Even a little summer reading radically reduces the slide, but it needs to be fun and something every kid wants to do. How better to do that than with a Novel Engineering Challenge?  

Novel Engineering Challenges are an excellent way to engage all kids in reading – both avid and less fluent readers will find common ground in identifying engineering challenges, designing solutions, and experiencing the feedback loops that improve their creations. And who wouldn’t love submitting their solutions and seeing what teams across the globe came up with for the same challenges?

Back to free time and the summer slide, Novel Engineering is the best of both worlds. It’s a construct that enables kids to freely identify and build solutions for the challenges that interest them, but in process they’re keeping up by reading. And it doesn’t have to be much. After all, everyone needs pool time!

In the summer months, Novel Engineering can be pared down to the essentials – even one or two chapters of a book. Any great children’s novel will have meaty chapters filled with potential engineering challenges to be solved. Reducing the scope of the project will be attractive to kids during their time off, and get real – kids probably won’t stop at one or two chapters. Once they’re discovering and making, they’ll be reading all summer.

With all of this in mind, we’ve developed a new summer Novel Engineering Challenge focused around Judy Blume’s enduring classic Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Given the level of calamity Fudge creates for Peter on every page, kids will not be short of engineering challenges that need solving. We can’t wait to see what kids from around the world come up with!

Get started now – the entry period opens June12 and closes August 11.  

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