Summer Learning Day is June 21 -- Fun Summer Learning Activities for Kids from Connections Academy

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Studies show that academic concepts can "slide" over the summer, so keeping kids engaged in learning contributes to their academic success. The Arts support traditional academic concepts; allow students to practice skills, express their creativity, and have fun.

Juilliard eLearning - online music courses for grades K through 12

Juilliard eLearning - online music courses for grades K through 12

There is a body of research that shows the positive correlation between involvement in the Arts and academic achievement

This summer, educators at Connections Academy virtual public schools are encouraging parents to turn to the Arts for engaging ways to keep learning alive and support academics. The importance of summer learning has come into focus over the years and June 21 has been designated Summer Learning Day by the National Summer Learning Association. Studies have shown that academic concepts can “slide” over the summer, so keeping kids engaged in learning allows them to hold on to previously learned knowledge and better prepare them for the new school year.

For parents and educators looking for ideas to infuse learning into summer activities, Connections Academy educators say the Arts are a great place to start.

“There is a strong and growing body of research that shows the positive correlation between involvement in the Arts and academic achievement,” said Dr. Patricia Hoge, executive vice president for curriculum for Connections Academy. “A report by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies points to several studies highlighting how the Arts support more traditional academic concepts. For example, dramatic enactment of literature was shown to build reading comprehension; high school students who studied dance outperformed non-dancers on measures of creative thinking, especially in the categories of fluency, originality and abstract thought; the critical skills of observation and inference are used in both art and science – these are just a few of the many findings.”

Top Ten Summer Learning Arts Activities from Connections Academy:

Star in the living room theater: Ask children to act out some of their favorite story books. Taking the written word to the “stage” deepens reading comprehension, expands creativity, and is entertaining for the whole family. Write scripts, assign a director. Crafty kids can make costumes, programs, and tickets!

Study music…online!: Kids everywhere can now study music online from one of the world’s most famous conservatories. Juilliard eLearning offers elementary, middle and high school music courses online that include lessons, a music tool, and demos from Juilliard faculty and students. Courses are reasonably priced and available 24/7.

Guess the titles of works of art: Visit a local museum or gallery with children and observe works of art, but don’t look at the title. Ask them to guess what they think the title should be based on their observations. Ask kids to explain what influenced their title. Once finished, reveal the real name and compare and contrast—a great way to boost reasoning skills!

Test music IQ: Play the Connections Academy Quiz Bowl Challenge, a free interactive online trivia challenge with 20 questions of varying difficulty and all about music. Test trivia skills and then challenge friends. Trivia games are a great gateway to research skills. Don’t know an answer? Look it up online or at the library. Children will likely come away with far more than the answer they were seeking.

Play with Story Cubes: Story cubes are great educational activity starters for writing, making plays, dances, and works of art. Roll the dice, each painted with a different icon, to inspire artistic creations. For example, what story can be developed when the dice reveal a sun, arrow, a key and a bridge? Can’t find them in stores? Ask children to make their own.

Dance a name: Ask children to make up a dance using the letters of their name. They may trace the letters in the air with their hand, foot, elbow or other body part. They may write the letters on a piece of paper and use the lines of the letters as a floor map to follow and inspire movement. Ask them to try different tempos, and levels. The key to this activity is challenging kids to come up with a beginning, middle, and end – just like writing a story!

Compose a theme song: Ask children to compose a theme song about themselves to reinforce abstract thinking skills. Encourage them to write down five words that describe themselves. Next, ask them to think about what musical sound best represents each word. Does the characteristic “kind” equal a gentle happy sound? Does “powerful” equal strong sounds? Have children string together the sounds to compose the theme song. Finish the activity by asking kids to give the song a title.

Make a masterpiece: Break out the paints, crayons, colored pencils and… ruler. Show children works of art by the famed Piet Mondrian such as “Composition with Yellow, Blue and Red,” and inspire them to make their own versions of his noted horizontal and vertical grid works. Ask kids to measure each of their lines and practice calculating area. Don’t feel limited, though, play with other colors and explore other geometrical shapes.

Move those math facts: A really fun way to reinforce math concepts is to dance them. Ask children to solve an equation by dancing the answer. Each hop, skip, leap equals “one.” So for “two multiplied by two” a correct answer would be four hops or four leaps, etc.

Keep reading: No summer learning list is complete without reading – to keep with the Arts theme, pick up biographies about great composers, artists, or dancers. Check out “Ballet for Martha” written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan about modern dancer and choreographer Martha Graham or author James Mayhew’s “Katie” series, as in “Katie Meets the Impressionists” and “Katie Meets the Mona Lisa.”

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About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading provider of high-quality, highly accountable virtual schooling for students in grades K through 12. Through tuition-free public schools, and full-time and part-time private school programs, Connections Academy delivers superior, personalized education for students, with the freedom and flexibility to experience our online learning community from anywhere. The combination of certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences creates a supportive and successful online learning opportunity for families and children who want an individualized approach to education. In the 2012–13 school year, Connections Academy will serve students in 22 states via 24 virtual public schools. It serves students worldwide through the online private school, International Connections Academy. Connections Academy offers grades K through 12, though some public school programs do not offer all grades. For more information, call 800–382–6010 or visit Connections Academy and its parent company, Connections Education, are part of the global learning company Pearson (NYSE:PSO).

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Allison Bazin
Connections Education
(609) 247-0275
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Rachel Konopacki
Connections Education
(443) 873-1737
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