A lesson a day to keep student skills sharp this summer

To make real-world summer learning as easy and impactful as we can, we’ve partnered with our community of Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts to put together 25 quick tips and lesson activities parents can do with their kids over the course of five summer weeks.

Whether you’re spending time in the sun or surrounded by books, check back here throughout the coming weeks whenever you’re looking for a fun way to keep those skills sharp and rooted in the real world. Get a preview of all 25 tips, or even print them all out, from the Sway here.


From: Alexandra Larson

Twitter handle: @Alex_n_wndrlnd

Ages: 4 – 7


Password: There are many ways to help your child with recognition of basic concepts. To play “password,” simply choose about five index cards and draw or write the following on them: shapes, sight words, numbers, names, positional words (it may be best to draw these out), missing alphabet letters (A B __ C D), missing numbers (4 5 6 __ 7), addition/subtraction sentences, and so forth. Skills will change depending on your child’s age. Tape these index cards on door frames, drawers, people, or anything else your child uses or sees frequently in the day. Require your child to say the “password” (what’s on the index card) to go through the doorway, open the drawer, ask you a question, etc. Once these have been mastered, hang them on the child’s personal “skills wall” in his or her bedroom!

Material Needed:

Markers, Index Cards, Tape

Links to supporting information:

Fry 1000 Instant Words (PDF); Preschool Skills Checklist; Kindergarten Skills Checklist; First Grade Skills Checklist

Skills this activity supports:

Reading and mathematical skills


From: Gene Vangampelaere

Twitter handle: @Vangampelaere 

Ages: 5 – 7


Math table game: Create 100 math exercises (tables 1 to 10) like 1×7, 3×8, etc. and write the solution on the back of the paper. Put them all on a table (10 rows, 10 columns) with the exercise visible. Now, each child can select an exercise and try to solve it. If they answer correctly he or she can point at an exercise to be solved by another player. If they answer incorrectly he or she chooses another exercise to try. By playing this game kids are able to practice math in a fun way!

Material Needed:

Paper, scissors, pen

Skills this activity supports:



From: Craig Hansen

Country: Indonesia

Instagram handle: @globaledtalk

Ages: 8 – 16



The Drive Around: Parents often spend time driving their kids during the summer holiday!  As a parent, I look for connections with my kids’ subjects such as math, English, Chinese, Indonesian, science, social studies etc.

Here is one example: “Share a sentence describing the height, features, and use of that building in more than one language.” I will have them to record this, and I will post it in our private family Facebook group for their relatives in New Zealand, Australia, and America to enjoy. The praise they get from our family members is motivating and they often ask to do this the next time we are out and about.

Here is another example: “See that tree on the corner? Tell us about how and when it can do respiration, photosynthesis etc. and what challenges that tree faces because of all the concrete and traffic.”

Material Needed:

No materials needed, though a mobile phone can record the activity if you want to share it with relatives.

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Science – environmental and physical science. Languages.


From: Kristin Barr

Country: USA

Twitter handle: @mrsbarr_itrt

Ages: 6 – 13



Creativity in a bag: Put five random items in a bag – anything laying around the house. Ask your child to create as many things as they can imagine using those items. You could also ask them to write a story that includes each item in some way. Sit back and watch their creativity at work! (Multiple children = multiple bags. They can collaborate or exchange after a certain amount of time.)

Material Needed:

A bag, random items from around your house, computer or paper/pencil (if choosing to write the story)

Skills this activity supports:

Creativity, design process, engineering, writing


From: Joe Archer

Country: Canada

Twitter handle: @ArcherJoe

Ages: 6 – 14


Inquiry-based explorations and discoveries: Stop, think, and ask yourself questions about an interesting topic or hobby. Think of the 5 Ws (who, what, why, when, where) and do some research, Skype with people, hit the library, ask friends and family their thoughts and feelings about your topic. Explore and collaborate with a partner, who could be a cousin, friend, or other family member! Connect around the globe using FaceTime and Skype. Share you findings using Flipgrid, Skype, Sway or PowerPoint or in a Maker type display.

Material Needed:

Internet connection/library card and a device!

Links to supporting information:

Microsoft Educator Community for Skype connections: Education.Microsoft.com

Skills this activity supports:

Scientific process, inquiry-driven investigations and team work, analyzing data and pulling out meaning


From: Wanda Hill

Country: United States

Twitter handle: @Hill4tech

Ages: 10 – 11



Explore the city you live in: Find the oldest building and write a letter to the city government, asking who built it, why it’s still there, and what purpose it served in the beginnings of your city. When you receive the answers, use your library to find pictures of the building when it was being constructed and find out more about the company or owner.

Extension activities: Put all your findings in a PowerPoint presentation and ask about presenting this to your city government.  Create a pictorial brochure with a QR code that links to your PowerPoint.  Give this to the city government or your local realty offices to introduce people new to the community about the local history.

Material Needed:

Cameras, if you go on a field trip to this site

Links to supporting information:

Your city government website

Skills this activity supports:

History, writing


From: Meenakshi Uberoi

Country: India

Twitter handle: @MeenakshiUberoi

Ages: 8 – 10


Off to the store: Go grocery 🛒 shopping. Share the responsibility of stocking your home with daily/weekly grocery items 🛍. Watch the video linked below to learn more about the experience of going to a grocery store. Write about seven to eight lines about what you saw, how you felt, what you learned and how this experience will help you (🆕 use new words learned in your writing). Use OneNote to make a ☑checklist, inquire about the quantity of each item, estimate the cost (💲make note of actual cost to help you see how well you had estimated) and carry your own bags. While at the store, notice what others are doing while shopping and pick some ideas 💡 for being a good shopper (👉 reading labels, exploring product options, being courteous). Don’t forget to reward yourself with a small treat for a job well done and be a wise shopper! (Wise shoppers not only choose wisely, but learn from their experience by writing reflective journals, just the way we do in class, using key pointers and descriptive words). Have fun as you learn to communicate independently, think critically, make great decisions and conduct yourself in public!

Material Needed:

Grocery bags 🛍, phone/tablet 📲 with grocery list, accompanying adult 🚺

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Thinking, social, communication, visual comprehension, self-management, observation, making informed decisions, writing skills, mathematical skills of estimation, calculating and money handling, mindfulness, Inquiry and research


From: Jane Fellows

Country: USA

Twitter handle: @STSKindergarten

Ages: 3 – 12


To Market, to Market: Choose a recipe to make. Ask your child to make the list of ingredients needed and head to the store. Encourage the child to find the items on the list, weigh them if necessary, and even allow the child to use cash to pay. Head home and cook away!

Material Needed:

Pad of paper, pencil, and a pocketbook with cash

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Measurement, money, following directions, phonics and handwriting, teamwork (and it’s fun and delicious!)


From: Amy McGraw

Country: USA

Twitter handle: @amythird1

Ages: 6 – 10


Number of the Day: Determine a number for the day and have children decompose and represent that number in different ways (expanded form, written form, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fraction, tallies, array). Children could record their Number of the Day responses in a OneNote notebook.

Material Needed:

Paper, pencils, crayons or a Tablet PC like a Surface, Microsoft OneNote

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Number sense, critical thinking, mathematical representation


From: Chamila Bandara

Country: Sri Lanka

Twitter handle: @chamila1pb

Ages: 5 – 13


Shapes around me: Ask your kids to see the things around them and identify the different shapes. For example: Triangular -mountains,roofs,windows,pyramids, etc. This observation helps students memorize different shapes and build up a connection between math and environment. You can also extend this activity to talk about why specific shapes are used for specific things.  For example: A triangular shape for roofs helps to shed water and snow easily and provides more space for the attic. This activity can be developed into scientific research.

Material Needed:

Paper and writing utensil to create journal

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Scientific process, knowledge of environment, observation skills, math


From: Piia Martikainen

Country: Finland

Twitter handle: @PiiaMartikainen

Ages: 7 – 13


Estimating: Start a timer and start walking, running, or jumping. Estimate when you have moved for 10 seconds, 20 seconds, and so forth, and stop the timer to see how accurate you have been. Or, mark a start point and start walking, running, or jumping and try to go 10 meters, 20 meters, etc. Mark the end point and measure how accurate you were.

Material Needed:

Timer, tape measure

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Estimation skills, math skills, concentration


From: Jane Fellows

Country: usa

Twitter handle: @stskindergarten

Ages: 5 – 10


Jump into a good book: With your 5 -7 year-old children, read the chapter series, “The Kingdom of Wrenly” by Jordan Quinn. My kindergartners literally scream, “Awww!” when we finish a book. This series is fabulous and is full of fantasy and adventure. Reading aloud to children has endless benefits … too many to even list!

Material Needed:

Chapter book series, “The Kingdom of Wrenly” by Jordan Quinn

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Cozy times and enjoyment of good books, building a life long love of reading


From: Phuti Ragophala

Country: South Africa

Twitter handle: @PhutiRagophala

Ages: 7 – 8


Sound it out: This lesson is about knowledge accumulation, pronunciation, and spelling of words using phonemes, not alphabets. Think of something to draw. After drawing write the name of what you’ve drawn, then pronounce it and spell it. Students learn to draw, spell, and pronounce words correctly .

Material Needed:

OneNote, painting app and voice recorder

Links to supporting information:


Skills this activity supports:

Creativity in drawing, communication and innovation


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