Studies show, that kids typically regress one reading level or more over summer break! As a teacher and a mom, I’m constantly looking for ways to keep my kids engaged in reading and math over the summer while not sitting in front of electronics to prevent the summer slide. Besides the obvious benefits of fresh air and sun, outdoor educational activities can be fun as well. Here are a few math and reading activities that I’ve used with my own boys and students that I’ve tutored:

Reading Forts

My boys love building a good fort! I try to have my kids read for thirty minutes a few times a week. When the weather is nice I’ll let them drag out all the blankets and pillows and create a cozy place to read outdoors.

Bicycle Scavenger Hunts

I live in a downtown neighborhood with plenty of businesses and signs. When my boys were younger we would ride through the town, and they would try to read as many signs as they could. Now, they like to make it more challenging by finding words in ABC order.

Run the ABCs

When tutoring I like to write letters in chalk on the concrete and have my students run to each letter. This activity has many variations: run in ABC, give the sound of the letter, give a word that starts with that letter, give both, sometimes I like to go out of order too. To get in more physical activity I like to space the letters out as much as possible. If I want to include handwriting skills too I will give them a piece of chalk to write the word next to the given letter.


Sidewalk chalk and paints are great for little learners. I love making a hopscotch grid and filling it with letters or numbers. Kids can say a word that starts with that letter or add/multiply/divide using the given number. To make it slightly more challenging, I like to ask for them to give me a word that has a certain number of syllables that starts with that letter.


Check out some local educational hot spots for active learning! Zoos, museums, hiking trails, community gardens, and libraries offer all kinds of opportunities for non-traditional learning. In my town, we also have kid fitness classes at some of our gyms!

Just For Fun

Not all activities need to have a reading or math emphasis. Kids benefit from playing, socializing, and being active! Outdoor sports, games, or even just a nice walk are great ways to bond with your children while keeping them moving.

I hope these ideas can help you keep your little ones actively learning all summer long!

More Outdoor Activities!