Summer is just around the corner, and ordinarily, we’d be looking forward to fun activities and holiday plans. However, with many parts of the country and the world still in varying degrees of lockdown due to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic, our summer vacation plans may be in need of a revamp.

Students have now been engaged in home-based learning for the past few months, and if they do not keep up with educational activities during summer, the effects of summer slide could be very pronounced. Summer can be used as an opportunity for kids to dive into experiential learning, outside the structure of the classroom. These activities can keep your child’s brain engaged while also being fun!

If you’re feeling stumped about how to keep kids occupied at home during the long summer months, we’ve got your back. Here are some free summer activities your kids and you can enjoy together!

1. For the Art Lover

The Smithsonian Museums have a variety of resources available, including online events and workshops, open access to digital images and data, and games and activities to keep children occupied for hours. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York also has specially designed a section for children to explore interesting exhibits, as does the Boston Children’s Museum.

2. To Make Young Scientists Squeal with Glee

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is another museum that offers virtual tours of their exhibits. The American Museum of Natural History also has virtual field trips designed for students of different grade levels.

3. For the Intrepid Traveler

International travel may have been severely restricted, but there’s no reason why you can’t still take your children on a trip of a lifetime this summer – for free! Why not take a virtual vacation outside of the US? Use the power of technology to “teleport” to iconic landmarks throughout the world, and be back in time for dinner. 

Fancy a visit to Easter Island off the coast of Chile? What about a trip to the Sydney Opera House? Perhaps explore the architectural wonder that is the Eiffel Tower! You can even spend an afternoon or two exploring the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican Museums, or any of the hundreds of other museums worldwide with the Google Arts and Culture platform.

4. Space Adventurers Aboard!

If you and your children are feeling particularly adventurous – NASA’s Glenn Research Center offers virtual visitors an inside look into their testing facilities.

5. Something for the Nature Buffs

National parks are also stepping up their game and offering virtual visits to their premises. Yellowstone National Park has virtual tours of Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin and more, while many other parks have set up live streaming webcams for virtual visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park from the comfort of their homes. You can even Find Your “Virtual” Park to discover what else the National Parks have to offer.

6. For the Young Zoologist or Aspiring Veterinarian

Nature and animal enthusiasts will also enjoy the variety of live streaming webcams available for viewing. The Nature Conservancy has webcams featuring some of their popular animals, while has wildlife webcams to pique anyone’s interest. WildEarth hosts a guided live stream of their sunrise and sunset safaris daily, and many zoos and aquariums such as San Diego Zoo and Memphis Zoo also post live webcams of their popular residents.

7. Bring out the Bibliophile

Libraries are a great treasure trove of resources and activities to do with your children during summer. From summer reading challenges to virtual storytime at the library to weekly creative writing prompts by beloved children’s authors, summer can be the perfect opportunity to cultivate your children’s reading habits and engage in literacy activities together. In addition to special programming created in response to the pandemic, libraries also have a huge variety of eBooks, audiobooks, videos, and more.

8. For the Moving, Grooving and Active Kids

Get your groove on with Just Dance, a YouTube channel that will get the whole family busting out the dance moves and working up a sweat. If you just need your kids to settle down and stretch for a while, Cosmic Kids Yoga has videos for yoga and mindfulness suitable for the whole family, while PE Teacher of The Body Coach regularly puts up PE lessons that will definitely be a workout for mum and dad too.

9. Give Your Child a Virtual Internship with Read to Lead

An award-winning gamified platform that puts children in the boss’s shoes within an immersive virtual workplace, Read to Lead games are the perfect summer activity to keep children reading and leading. Each game is also accompanied by free lesson plans and discussion questions that you can use with your children to explore different professions, and engage in meaningful discourse about topics such as decision-making in the workplace, the importance of cooperation and more!

The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on our summer plans, but there’s no reason to squander away this precious time we have with our children at home. By doing different activities with your children during the summer vacation, you can help keep their minds and bodies active while strengthening your bond with them – all for free!

About Read to Lead

Read to Lead uses the power of game-based learning to empower middle school students to build literacy, life, and career skills. Teachers can sign up for a free account to get started!