Learning tools and games to keep your kids engaged this summer

Avoid that dreaded summer slide with these engaging learning activities and games. . Getty Images

The Curator independently decides what topics and products we feature. When you purchase an item through our links, we may earn a commission. Promotions and products are subject to availability and retailer terms.

Kids have been working hard at school this year, but now that it’s summer, it’s time to embrace a little time off. Some experts say the break can be good for kids, as it allows them to regroup, destress and refocus before the next school year starts.

Lately though, parents have been hearing about something called the “summer slide.” Some research suggests kids may forget what they’ve learned at school over the summer break, leading to a backslide in their education. Newer research suggests there are more factors at play, however, and socio- and economic status may play a role in how much kids really forget over the break.

Whether you believe in the summer slide or not, most parents agree that keeping kids engaged and active during summer is critical to their development. If you’re interested in helping your kids improve their learning this summer, here are some tools—including hands-off games and activities—that may help.

Story continues below advertisement


Learning about animals is competitive and fun when you play this family game. Even adults can get into the action as teams try to guess the animal based on clues about its habitat, diet and behaviour. This game is easy to play and easier to transport. Pop it in your bag and play it at the park, the beach or the campsite. We’ve even played it on a road trip.


Many elementary-aged kids love the idea of money and will set up shops, stores or businesses at home if they have tools that spark their imagination. Adding a set like this to your toy room can encourage kids to learn more about money, price points and math at home. We like this kit because it’s Canadian, comes with a divided tray, and it looks like the real stuff, too. 


If your family is busy this summer, you probably spend a lot of time in the car and on the go. That’s why we like this problem-solving game, which is designed for portability with its sturdy case and simple cleanup. You can play the Blox in more than 30 ways, from a kid version of Sudoku to a memory match. We also like that kids can play it solo or in a group. 
Story continues below advertisement


Sure, you could set your kid up with an art class on YouTube, but this drawing book is a great alternative when you’re on vacation or trying to get everyone outside and away from the screen. The simple instructions yield great results while helping younger kids develop dexterity and writing skills. 


Spark your child’s imagination and encourage risk-taking and inventiveness with this marbled paint kit. It uses water to create works of art that kids can then transfer onto paper. The kit includes detailed instructions, all the necessary tools, and nontoxic paint. 


Journaling is an excellent way for kids to practice their writing and self-expression, and doing so over the summer in a special journal gives them a cool keepsake. This book is kid-friendly with writing prompts and a feelings tracker, plus it comes with an adventure and book list. 
More Recommendations
Story continues below advertisement


Bring out your kids’ curiosity and love of science with this magic kit, which includes 20 “tricks” like bending metal with water or making coins float. The illustrated guide is easy to follow, and the kit includes gloves and a wand so kids can feel the part. This one will require some adult supervision, but once kids get the hang of it, they can perform their own show. 


Make hikes, trips to the park or camping a little more exciting for the kids this summer with their own pocket microscope. It’s handheld and features LED illumination to help provide a clear view. Kids can check out the included prepared slides or see what other objects look like up close, getting some STEM learning in without knowing it.  


Budding engineers or kids who like to figure out how things work can get their fix with this beloved circuits set. It’s designed for ages eight and up and features 100 potential projects, including alarms, a flying saucer, and a musical doorbell. We love that no tools are required and that the instructions are clear and easy to follow. 
Story continues below advertisement


Marble runs are a great way to sneak some STEM learning into summer play. Kids can create their own courses or follow the included instructions and then race marbles that also glow in the dark. It’s a fun and interactive activity that also teaches problem-solving and spatial awareness. Pack it up neatly into the included carrying pouch when you’re done.
The Curator newsletter The Curator newsletter
The Curator

Be in the know before you shop with The Curator email sent twice a week.

Sponsored content