Summer is a time of adjustment. Days can be long and behaviors can escalate. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to re-gain a bit of stability and routine is to build some learning time into our day. Not only do my older kids (5 and 7) enjoy learning time, I am helping them retain the knowledge and skills they have learned over the past school year. Studies have shown that students can regress (quickly!) over the summer, when a course of action is not taken. Many parents know just how important reading is, but it’s also important to keep your kids working on other subject areas like math and writing as well. A learning box is a simple way to help your child continue to make progress throughout the summer in all subject areas.

Here’s how to incorporate a learning box into your day:

1. Choose a box!

We headed to our local Dollar Tree to select our boxes. I let the kids choose the color and style of box that appealed to them.

2. Decorate!

My kids had SO much fun decorating their box and making it their own. We got out foam letters and stickers to decorate our boxes. I laid out the supplies and let the kids go to town.

learningbox3. Establish a Time

The learning box will be most successful if it is an established part of your daily routine. It has to be predictable and consistent for your kids to buy into it. Reluctant learners will more readily accept this time if it happens on a daily basis, and isn’t a sporadic activity.

At our house, all four of my kids (7,5,2,1) go down for rest-time at 12:30. The younger two nap while the older two have 45 minutes of reading time. I go get the older two at 1:15, and they have learning box time until 2:30 (which is right about when the babies are waking up.) This system keeps our house quiet and calm during nap-time, allows me to have a much needed break, and gives my two school-aged children a solid 2 hours of learning time each day.

4. Fill the Box

I give each child around 3 activities each day. I make sure the activities are developmentally appropriate and challenging. I want the kids to be able to complete the activities with minimal help, but also want the activities to keep their minds engaged, and not simply keep them busy. (Busy-work benefits no-one!)

Some ideas to fill a box are:

A book at their reading level (It’s great to require some type of response as well! Ie- Write down your favorite part, Map out the beginning, middle, and end, what should happen next, what did the book make you think about, look up any words you didn’t know, etc.)

A page from a workbook


Flash cards

Journals – (We let the kids each pick a spiral notebook. Some days it is “free write” while other days I give them a writing prompt.)

A craft (to support fine-motor development and direction following)

Cut and paste activities

5. Collaborative Learning

When the kids have finished their individual work, I always have a collaborative project for them to work on together. So much of school requires team-work, cooperation, turn-taking, etc, and I wanted to reinforce those skills and behaviors.

Some ideas include:

Board games (encourages turn-taking, following directions, being a good winner/loser, etc.)

A larger puzzle (logic/spatial awareness)

Manipulatives (like pattern blocks, dominoes, etc.)

Ingredients to make a cooking project

Supplies needed to construct something/put something together


For worksheets:  (Not everything is free, but there are a lot of great things that are!) (Fun and thematic) (math and reading) (great for math!)

The Dollar Tree usually has a good selection of workbooks for Pre-K – Grade 1.

You can usually google just about any topic and grade level and find a good worksheet too!

Book Ideas:

100 Picture Books You MUST Read to Your Kids

100 Chapter Books You MUST Read to Your Kids

I hope you will implement a learning box at YOUR house this summer. I have been so pleasantly surprised at how well this is working. My kids are happy, engaged, quiet, focused, calm, and learning!


Other Ways We are Learning and Playing this Summer:

100 Boredom Jar Activity Ideas

Chasing Supermom Summer Survival Guide

PDX Summer Fun Guide