Summer Learning Ideas (and GREAT Centers!)

Centers… Revised!

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

Whether you’re a parent looking for some fun summer learning activities to keep your children’s skills sharp, or an early elementary teacher who wants to breathe new life into your centers next year, this article is for you!

Rhyming Picture Pairs

Create picture cards for your students to match with words that rhyme. For example, print two cards: one with a picture of a house and the word house printed on it, and another with a picture of a mouse and the word mouse printed on it. Make about 10 sets of word-pair cards, and then scramble them in a box or bag for your students to sort through and pair up.

Here are some rhyming word pairs to get you started: (1) mouse, house (2) bear, chair (3) fan, man (4) moon, spoon (5) horn, corn (6) pie, fly (7) box, fox (8) crown, clown (9) snake, cake (10) car, jar (11) hat, cat (12) hose, nose (13) duck, truck (14) bed, sled (15) ant, plant (16) key, tree (17) soap, rope (18) farm, arm (19) zero, hero (20) check, wreck.


Purchase or create word magnets for your students to group into sentences. Don’t forget punctuation! Students can use pie pans, dry erase boards, or even the front of metal teachers’ desks to place their sentences on. When a student creates a sentence, have them record their sentence by writing it down in a Magnet Journal (a binder filled with lined paper that stays in the center with the magnet words).

For a set of 200 sight word magnets, click here.

Poetry Pages

Familiar students with the great poets and poetic language while allowing them to practice their writing skills. Make a binder of poems (one poem per page), and then have students select a poem of their choice to copy onto paper, illustrate, mount on construction paper and display in the classroom (or on the fridge, if you’re doing this at home).

For an online resource of childhood poems, click here.

Now I Know My…

Create ABC cards (one letter per card) and allow students to put their ABC’s in order. You can also create picture cards that go along with each letter. Then, allow students to place the picture cards on the letter that shows their beginning letter. For an extra challenge, they can also group the cards by their ending letter.


Fill a paper lunch back with random things (a paper clip, yo-yo, a small toy car, small toy animals, etc.). Allow students to choose an item from the bag and draw it on their paper. Students should then write sentences about the object. Encourage them to describe their objects using as many adjectives as possible: How would you describe this item to someone from Mars who had never seen it before?


This center is an oldie-but-goodie. What child doesn’t like to sit on a fun pillow or comfy couch and look at books? Set out comfy chairs, stuffed animals, pillows, and of course, books on book shelves or in baskets. This will be the perfect place for students to build positive associations with reading!


You may already use the computer in your center rotation, but have you visited, yet? It covers early reading skills/phonics and is great for ages 3 through first grade. It’s the perfect way to make learning to read fun and techy.

For more computer programs that balance educational goals with entertainment, click here (for math activities) and here (for reading CDs).

Whether you use these ideas at the kitchen table or in the classroom, hopefully they’ll make learning fun for your little ones!

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a Masters in Education and will begin teaching in a third-grade classroom this fall. Congratulations, Kelli! And thanks for sharing all of your great ideas on A Learning Experience.



Filed under Activities, Centers, Math, Phonics, Reading, Summer Learning, Writing

2 responses to “Summer Learning Ideas (and GREAT Centers!)

  1. Sandra

    I love some of these ideas for older students, too! Have to keep it fun and exciting at all ages! THANKS!

  2. peggy

    I have three children of my own. I do not want them playing video games or watching tv all day. I have shared the article with them and we have created centers for us to do at home. We have a reading center, science center, math center, geography center computer center, writing center and fun center. They love them. We do them on M-W-F. I agree with Sanda that you have to keep it fun and exciting at all ages.