Activities and Games That Will Keep Kids Learning All Summer

I'm all for outside play and relaxation in the summertime! But it's hard to ignore all that's said about how if you don’t use it, you lose it! As a former teacher, I have seen firsthand the blank looks on those rested-up faces as kids came back to school in the fall and I expected them to pick up where we left off in the spring. But resting up is important, and I'd be the first to encourage kids to play hard all summer long. So rather than missing out on the vigorous exercise kids desperately need, let’s shut off the TV and other electronics and go outside to keep building those vital brain connections. This summer, let’s keep the learning going, and how about making it fun at the same time?

Great learning goals to set for summer

  • Lots of movement such as running, skipping, moving hand over hand on the monkey bars, swimming, rolling, spinning, dribbling a soccer ball--anything that alternates sides of the body and is vigorous.
  • Retain and even improve reading fluency
  • Practice visualization which leads to enhanced comprehension
  • Set time aside for exploration and hands-on discovery
Plan Ahead

A great way to make sure all this happens is to plan ahead and to combine "school" activities with active ones. Making the process of learning FUN will help your child to love reading. The activities outlined in this blog post are based on SnapWords® cards (stylized sight words: most of the words young children encounter in reading) and Beyond Sight Words Activities. If you don’t already have the pocket chart size SnapWords® cards, you just have to get them!

SnapWords® Charades

There are 59 SnapWords® cards for Level A and many activities!


SnapWords® List A, something for your child to stand on outside (sturdy crate, steps, low deck, etc.), a pair of fun sunglasses, a play telephone, a favorite toy or stuffed animal, and something to hold a few SnapWords® cards.


  • Come down here.
  • Do not go up.
  • He said hi.
  • Jump like me.
  • You can look in.
  • Stop and call now.
  • Play on this.
  • Sit by my little one.
  • We did get to see.
  • We ran out to play.
  • So, will you want it?
  • See if it is big or not.
  • Make the play for me.
  • We are up but you are down.
  • An orange cat is at play.
  • I said no as you ran.

How to Play:

Display the first sentence with the stylized side of the cards showing. Tell your child any word he doesn't recognize on sight because you want to be sure he doesn't guess and then get the wrong words associated with the SnapWords® images. Your child will read a phrase or sentence, then choose the props he needs to act out what he read. Because the focus is on playing, he will have more motivation to read the words, and because he is acting out the phrase, his retention will be amazing! 

Following are a few hints for acting out “Come down here” (in case you need to prompt him!) He could ask you to stand on a step or the deck and then ask you to come down here. Or he could stand on the crate, step, or deck and ask you to say, “come down here.” Alternately he could place his toy animal on the box and talk to it. Any sentence that talks about looking or seeing might prompt your child to put on the sun glasses. Challenge your child to create his own ways of acting out what he reads.

Make an Illustrated Book

For those rainy days or quiet activity times, use the same phrases listed above and have your child make a book with a phrase and an illustration on each page. This would be a great activity to do together. Encourage your child to come up with her own phrases that use up all the List A SnapWords® as this will strengthen her problem solving ability and will truly grow her brain in the process of learning to read, strengthening comprehension, etc.

Games for Travel

Taken from Beyond Sight Words Activities, here are some great games to play in the car:

  • Use our Go Fish cards by printing the appropriate pages on card stock and cutting them out.
  • Give each player a small clipboard and play SnapWords™ BINGO. Just find the appropriate page in the download and print off enough copies for each player.

Problem-Solving Games

Many of the activities in Beyond Sight Words Activities engage your child’s brain in problem-solving activities, keeping his brain working on good stuff over the summer. Beyond Sight Words Activities includes sentences to unscramble, word wall activities to solve, making words, crossword puzzles, fill in the blanks, and more.

Active Play

Make a game out of reviewing SnapWords® individually or in the phrases and sentences provided for you. Position yourself somewhere in the yard and display the first phrase or sentence. Ask your child to read the stylized version of the sentence, and then give him an activity to do.

For example, she might read, “come down here,” and you would say, “great job, now skip to the tree and back.” Other physical activities could include:

  • balancing on one foot with arms spread
  • turning a somersault
  • doing jumping jacks
  • running to a designated spot and back
  • dribbling the soccer ball to a point and back
  • running up the steps to the slide and slide down
  • anything else that will work given the scope of your yard!

Additional Levels

Following are the sentences that include all of the words from the rest of the SnapWords® lists. Use them to do similar activities to those suggested for Level A above, and use your imagination to create more games and activities!

The following are phrases for Level B:

  • Read all about it.
  • Run away fast.
  • Who will work with us?
  • Try to cut your last one.
  • They must be from here.
  • Yes, we took a funny one!
  • What will she sing in the show?
  • Many saw them pull that.
  • Just let him eat good ones.
  • It got into its new den.
  • Ask me if I ate any, too.
  • Say, am I still in our play?
  • We may take it then tell you why.
  • I put it away faster than you.
  • Many of them gave when I went to fly.


The following are phrases for Level C:

  • Go around again before long.
  • I know you’ll live next to her.
  • They came to bring some better ones.
  • It is another cold day.
  • I didn’t find it first.
  • He found it was far gone!
  • The man began to ride those.
  • I am told these are very old and hard.
  • I never had to hold my own.
  • I think I will pick much more soon!
  • There were four going under after him.
  • Oh, how kind to give what you made.
  • I will walk over where the other one is.
  • Which one is giving more?
  • Don’t get off when he does!


The following are phrases for Level D:

  • The same animal always goes across.
  • It is small, short, and round.
  • I might only open it once.
  • Most of the light left the fall day.
  • It is best to buy both myself today.
  • Every one could have been clean.
  • It is mean to laugh while I am hurt.
  • They should start their turn pretty soon.
  • Sleep right near me.
  • Draw it even and well.
  • It is hot, not warm up high.
  • It would grow to be full upon this.
  • Close up and leave.
  • Are you done yet?
  • You need to keep and use it.


The following are phrases for Level E:

  • Mother said, “Certainly say please and thank you.”
  • We thought it through together.
  • I will decide on a different drink.
  • Our company clapped the instant they heard a giggle.
  • He will carry the prize because he is careful.
  • I’m willing to write tomorrow.
  • I shall wish upon a star.
  • The husband struggled with the hitch.
  • The whole wash is flapping.
  • I stumbled and got stuck indeed!
  • I imagine one hundred is enough.
  • The passenger was a pleasant playmate.
  • I had an accident on my bicycle.
  • I held my breath in the basement.
  • I realized he ate the whole pie.
  • I will turn toward it.
  • It’s a pleasure to have a wonderful stove!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published