Since you’ll see the students next year, you have a wonderful opportunity for action research on the results of summer enrichment opportunities and the extent to which students participate. You’ll get a range of responses— some families will participate readily, while others may have different priorities or time constraints.
Start with a letter to parents describing the project, emphasizing that it will not be graded. Provide a list of books available in a local library and websites related to the topics students will address next year, giving students the opportunity to preview and increase their prior knowledge and experiences.
Students could make journals with suggestions on each page for something to observe, illustrate, and write about (e.g., weather observations, phases of the moon, stars, pet behavior, insects, clouds, their neighborhoods, reflections on readings, vacation adventures). Having made the journals, they may be more motivated to use them.
Avoid sending home worksheets that are not effective learning opportunities (e.g., word searches, mazes, coloring pages).
Share information about free events at local parks, nature centers, libraries, or museums. Encourage students to record their experiences and photographs in their journal or online class resource.
Suggest topics for family activities:
- Story-starters (What was your favorite outdoor adventure? How have inventions and technology changed over the years? Where does our food come from?),
- Games such as I Spy to find objects that match a given characteristic.
- Cooking together, reinforcing measurement and nutrition
- Planting seeds and observe plant growth
Next year, look at the students’ journals to see what interested them.