MAT Blog

5 Fun and Creative Ways to Stop Summer Slide

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jul 3, 2014 9:44:00 AM


As anti-boredom fighters and educational advocates, we’d like to offer 5
summer activities for students. Not only will they keep students entertained, they’ll also keep them from taking a ride down the summer slide.

5 Fun and Creative Ways to Stop Summer Slide

summer_slideBecome an abstract expressionist painter
Grab a few empty spray bottles, fill them with non-toxic paint, and add a little water to dilute the paint. Now set up an easel with paper—we recommend doing this outside!—and grab a few brushes for extra fun.

This activity might pair nicely with a lesson on abstract artists like Jackson Pollock. For further reading, check out Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s book, Action Jackson.

summer_slide_2Read a book and follow it for the rest of the summer
After you finish reading a book, head over to, register your book and get a unique BookCrossing ID.

Now pass your book on to a friend or find someone in the BookCrossing community who's looking for your book and make their day by sending it to them. Use your BCID number to follow your book wherever it goes. Think of it as a passport enabling your book to travel the world without getting lost!

summer slideBecome a Geocacher
If you’ve never heard of it, geocaching
is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. To learn more about it, stop by

summer slideUse your math skills to create full-scale sidewalk drawings
Actual Size Books is one of our favorite book recommendations.
Inside, students will find complete, detailed, and accurate blueprints to create massive sidewalk drawings with chalk. Using these blueprints, students will be able to create full-scale drawings of anything from the Santa Maria’s deck and a prairie schooner to a Tyrannosaurus Rex or the Statue of Liberty’s Torch. Each lesson includes a complete lesson plan, vocabulary, and a detailed blueprint. What better way to kiss those summer learning losses goodbye?

glass_jarSelect a new word from the Word Jar every morning
This is an idea we borrowed from Erica over at Blog Her. Here’s how it works:

Write new vocabulary words on slips of paper and toss them into a glass jar. Every morning your child will choose a word. Throughout the day have a “good-sport” contest to see who can use the word in context the most.

Here are a few tips from Erica:

1. Keep it simple. Don’t start with SAT word lists! Flocabulary has a nice collection of vocabulary based on reading level.

2. Include some words with double meanings. A word like signal is both a noun and a verb. A word such as staple is a noun, verb and adjective and has a few completely different meanings.

3. Use words your child knows but may not regularly use.

4. Relax. Don’t make it a test. Some days you may use your word-of-the-day a lot…others you may not use it as much. That’s OK! This activity should be fun. As Erica reminds us, the real goal is simply to demonstrate the benefits and joys of having a large vocabulary, not to get your seven year old to use the word specious appropriately.

5. Use words from previous days.


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Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses

Stop summer slide in its tracks with this summer reading challenge

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 15, 2013 6:00:00 AM

summer reading challengeWe’ve been writing a lot about summer slide the past couple of weeks, but we think there’s good reason for it:

  • In a 2011 analysis published by the RAND Corporation, McCombs reveals that elementary students' performance falls by about a month during the summer.
  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort among dozens of foundations, lists summer learning loss as one of the three major obstacles to reading proficiency at the end of 3rd grade (Gewertz, 2011). Other studies come to similar conclusions. 

We’ve been racking our brains for activities and summer reading strategies you can pass on to your students (and their parents) this summer. Thanks to Mrs. Phillips, the principal of Chets Creek Elementary School, we’re able to pass on one more called the Summer Reading Challenge.

Last week, Principal Phillips challenged the school to read 100 books this summer (for children reading chapter books, this means a chapter counts as a book). Each student received a reading chart and 100 stars. Children who return the competed chart will earn a special treat from the Principal when they return in the fall.  

Click on the picture below to download a copy of the reading-challenge chart. Please thank Principal Phillips for sharing this cool idea!

summer reading challenge chart2.jpg



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Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses, summer activities for kids, summer reads

10 questions to ask before choosing educational summer camps for kids

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 8, 2013 6:00:00 AM

educational summer campsAvailable at nearly every price point, educational summer camps are a fantastic avenue for preventing summer slide. Plenty of local organizations (the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, local parks and recreation, zoos, museums) offer programs that support summer learning, but how can you know which one is best suited for your child?

While parents will obviously have to consider cost and convenience when choosing educational summer camps for kids, we thought they might also benefit from a checklist of questions they should ask before signing up.

10 questions to ask before choosing educational summer camps for kids

  • Does the program offer a balanced curriculum that includes reading, math, cultural enrichment, and recreation?
  • What is the student-to-staff ratio? Will kids have the opportunity to work one-on-one with staff members?
  • Does the program have a mission?
  • How are the days and weeks organized?
  • Will my child have an opportunity to choose some of his/her activities?
  • Does the program assess my child’s learning or track his or her progress?
  • How have students benefitted from the program in the past? Has it positively impacted their academic achievement?
  • What are the qualifications of the staff? What kind of training do they receive?
  • What will my child eat?
  • Is parent involvement encouraged? Am I able to stop by during my lunch hour?
  • Does the program offer scholarships, grants or financial aid?

If you are looking for more ideas on how to keep your kids sharp this summer, check out a few of our recent blogs:Use Travel Journals to Help Prevent Summer Slide and 10 Summer Reading Activities for Struggling Readers.


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Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses, summer activities for kids, educational summer camps

10 Summer Activities for Kids Who Use the B-Word

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 6, 2013 11:25:00 AM

 summer activities for kids

We strongly dislike the B-Word (boring!) and those of us with kids find it ringing in our ears during the summer. As anti-boredom fighters and educational advocates, we’d like to offer 10 summer activities for kids. Not only will they keep students entertained, they’ll also keep them from taking a ride down the summer slide. Please feel free to add any suggestions to our list!

10 Summer Activities for Kids Who Use the B-Word

  1. Plant a garden and keep a journal documenting each plant’s growth. If you are short on space, plant in containers.

  2. Here’s an idea for parents: If your children want to watch TV—even though the weather is beautiful!—cut them a deal: They can watch a movie, but they have to watch it with the sound off and the closed captioning on.

  3. Use iPadio to create a weekly podcast updating friends and family on your summer adventures. iPadio is a free app that allows you to record up to 60 minutes of high quality audio simply by using your cell phone (or landline). Once you’ve recorded your message, you can upload it to Facebook or email it to your friends and family.

  4. Here’s an idea for teachers: Hand out postcards (stamped and addressed) so that your students can tell you about their summer.

  5. Find a picture book without words and write your own story. Not sure where to start? Try The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. It’s a classic.

  6. Adopt a soldier through websites like, Adopt a US Soldier or Soldier’s Angels. Just remember that when you sign up, you’re making a commitment to regularly send cards and care packages. If you’re unsure what you should say, check out these sample letters for ideas. Keep in mind that packages don’t have to be expensive and if you’re stumped on what to get for your adopted hero, just ask; you can also refer to the website for a list of the most-requested items.

  7. Become a change agent. We’ve always believed that young people have the power to lead even if they don’t know it themselves. Are you passionate about animals? The environment? Does texting-and-driving bother you? Stop by, a website for young people who want to help make the world a better place, but don’t know exactly where to start.

  8. Become a Geocacher. If you’ve never heard of it, geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. To learn more about it, stop by

  9. Design an alternative book cover for your favorite book, or try writing a short sequel or alternative ending to the book instead.

  10. If you’re looking for a list of books to read over the summer, but don’t know where to start, download Reading Rocket’s free guide to summer reading.

    Surfing for Substance II Download

Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses, summer activities for kids, summer reads

Use Travel Journals to Help Prevent Summer Slide

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 4, 2013 1:30:00 PM

summer slideWe’ve been racking our brains for creative ways to keep our students sharp when we’re not there this summer. Here’s one of our ideas: have them keep travel journals. Even if your students don’t end up traveling, they can still use pictures, drawings, articles, receipts, and brief journal entries to document the things they did and saw when they weren’t in school.

To get them excited about the idea, we combed the Internet and found five tutorials to help them create their own travel journal. Although students can always purchase journals—Amazon has a large selection—we thought having them create their own would make a fun end-of-the-year project.

Use Travel Journals to Help Prevent Summer Slide

Kim Rankin’s blog Catching Foxes offers an excellent travel-journal tutorial:

summer slide 2
Here’s another we found on Mom Endeavors:

summer slide 3

 Another from Julie Kirk’s website, Notes on Paper:

summer slide 4

MyHandboundBooks sells a 9-page tutorial (for $10.00) that outlines the process for making leather journals like the one you see below. The document—a PDF that is immediately sent to your email—includes tips for selecting leather, detailed sewing instructions, and templates to cut out. Everything is fully illustrated with step-by-step instructions and written for people with no bookbinding experience.

summer slide 5

Over at Dancing Commas, you’ll find a free PDF template for the journal you see below. You can download the template by clicking here.

summer slide 6.jpg

If your students worry that they won’t know what to write about, provide them with a few of the prompts below:

"The weather today was"
"I made a friend"
"I learned a new word"
"I tried a new food"
"The best/worst parts"
"I’m homesick for"
"The funniest thing happened to me"
"Today I saw/smelled/heard/felt/tasted"
"Illustrate the difference: draw a picture of a building, vehicle, view, that differs from home"
"Make a collage of found brochures, newspapers, magazines at your destination"
"Draw pictures of each of your travel companions"


Guide to Reading Comprehension

Tags: writing strategies, reading instruction, writing fluency, writing skills, reading ability, reading fluency, summer slide, travel journals

Summer Slide is no picnic for teachers. Prevention is key!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 2, 2012 5:37:00 AM

summer learning losses are preventable through strong parent partnerships!At the beginning of each school year many teachers spend up to six weeks reviewing material taught the previous year. This is due to a phenomenon coined as "summer slide" which describes the loss of learning that occurs over summer vacation. To lessen the effects of learning losses, encourage parent partnerships by offering ways to keep children engaged all summer long!                                                

Parents play an enormous role in helping to prevent summer slide. There are several key things they can do to make sure children are ready to learn in the fall. Send them the link to this blog or send a note home outlining the following suggestions.  

Check out the public library. Not only does the public library offer a variety of books, reference materials, and magazines for children, many also have summer reading programs. These programs aim to encourage and incentivize summer reading to help prevent summer slide. Additionally, many public libraries also plan activities to expose children to new experiences, famous authors, and cultural events.

Enroll children in a summer camp. Available at nearly every price point, summer camps are a fantastic avenue for preventing summer slide for your child. Organizations such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, local parks and recreation, zoos, or museums offer programs on a variety of topics that support summer learning. 

Choose a "summer study." Having children spend the summer focused on a "summer study" of a favorite topic is a great way to encourage continued learning. Parents should give their child the freedom to choose a topic of interest; perhaps it’s ballet. Children may check out books on ballet from the library, learn about famous ballet dancers, watch ballet videos online or on DVD, or even visit a ballet studio. This “summer study” will help children become “students” of their own hobbies and interests.

Visit local parks and museums. Many local parks and museums design events especially for children to promote summer learning. Often, they also offer free or discounted admission for families to encourage everyone to visit together. Check for coupons in the mail.  

Review the previous year's learning. Remind parents that their children just spent nine long months learning the previous year's material. Using the summer to review this learning will help them retain their knowledge for next year. Offer parents review materials, or summer learning workbooks for purchase. Spending a little time each week reviewing—all summer long— goes a long way in keeping children current.

Write letters. Many students have very little opportunity to write an actual letter in this current age of text messages, emails, and instant messages. At the beginning of summer vacation have your child make a letter-writing list. Every week or so children can carefully craft a hand-written letter about their summer adventures to the recipient of their choice. The ongoing writing practice is extremely beneficial.

Integrate math practice into everyday activities. Your home is teeming with opportunities to reinforce math skills.  You can practice fractions in cooking, chart the summer weather and temperature, create geometrical shapes with blocks, or budget for a grocery trip.  

Set reasonable limits on children's screen time. Yes, summer vacation is a chance for relaxation. But limiting children's TV viewing, gaming and online activities will help promote a healthier, happier, and more productive summer break. Parents and children can decide on reasonable limits together, to ensure that there’s still plenty of time for fun!

Preventing summer slide is one way to capitalize on the hard work you’ve done in building strong parent partnerships. Administrators should encourage all teachers to arm parents with good information before break, so that all teachers benefit from prepared students next year.

Teachers can prepare for fall, too by enrolling in the Marygrove College online Master in the Art of Teaching Program! Make the most of your teaching career, apply for free today!

Apply for the Marygrove MAT



Tags: parent partnerships, summer slide, summer learning losses

Here's a preventive reading strategy for “summer slide" that parents need to know.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on May 19, 2012 5:30:00 AM

parents can help prevent summer slide by reading with their children each day.“Summer Slide,” or the loss of skill over a prolonged time away from regular, routine learning is very common among struggling readers. Parents of struggling readers can help their children maintain their skills by exercising the strategy of paired reading over summer break.

Paired reading
is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who struggle with fluency, and is perfect for summer reading at home. Share this blog with your parents before school ends, or send home a note with simple step-by-step pointers for them to follow. They’ll thank you for it.

It is generally recommended that parents read with their children for at least five minutes per day. Paired reading can be used with any book, taking turns reading by sentence, paragraph, page or chapter. For best results, have the child select the reading material, or parents may select age-appropriate books with topics that interest their children—whichever works. The point is to read on a regular basis.

We’ve adapted what Researcher and Literacy Expert Dr. Tim Rasinski recommends from Teacher Created Materials Publishing, a website full of great resources for teachers:

Practice what you preach.

•Both you and your child read the words out loud together. Read at the child’s speed. You are modeling good reading for your child.

•For young readers, as you read together, read every word. To make sure your child is looking at the words, one of you points to the word you are reading with a finger or card. It’s best if your child does the pointing.

•When a word is read incorrectly, you say the word correctly, and then have your child immediately repeat the word.

•Show interest in the book your child has chosen. Talk about the pictures. Talk about what’s in the book as you go through it. It is best if you talk at the end of a page or section, or your child might lose track of the story. Ask what things might happen next. Listen to your child – don’t do all the talking.

Make the Time.

•Try very hard to do Paired Reading every day for 5 minutes. If your child wants to read longer, a total of 15 minutes is long enough.

•Select a time that is good for both you and your child. Don’t make him do Paired Reading when he really wants to do something else.

•For days when you are not available, train someone else to be a substitute. Grandparents, older brothers and sisters, aunts, and baby-sitters can be excellent reading role models, too.

Choose a Quiet Place.

•Find a room with no distracting sounds. Children are easily sidetracked by noise. Turn off the T.V.

•Find a place that is private. No one else should be in the room. Many families find this a great opportunity for one parent or grandparent to spend time with just one child.

•Find a place that is comfortable so both of you can concentrate on the story without having to shift around. This will help to associate warm and snuggly feelings with reading.

When to Encourage Reading Alone.

•When you are reading together, allow your child to read alone when he feels confident and wants to. Agree on a way for him/her to signal you to stop reading along. This could be a knock, squeeze, or tap with the elbow. (Saying “be quiet” or similar words might make your child lose track of the meaning of the story.) When signaled, you immediately stop reading aloud and feel glad that your child wants to be an independent reader!

It’s never too late in the year to try something new. For more interesting ways to engage readers, download our Best Practices Guide for Reading Comprehension, today!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B







Tags: how parents help kids read, download, struggling readers, summer slide

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