July is over and back to school is looming, with echoing of the Jaws theme playing in the background for many kids… There’s still plenty of time; however, for some last minute summer fun that could continue right into the fall!
When children have challenges developing self-directed play activities or lack social skills to take part with peers easily, the summer gets a little, well… long. Although some of these recommendations are designed particularly for children with social deficits, the majority can benefit all children make the most breaks in the school year.
Here is a list of some free activities that could be used to address necessary targets, meet individualized interests, and are, most importantly, FREE.
Target Areas of Need
Breaks in the school year a great time to catch up on school challenges or social skills needs, as well as to identify interests for future targets.
A great website with free games and activities, as well as their educational content. Check out the emotion matching game where a face is placed along a continuum of emotion (i.e., annoyed to angry).
Free vocational interest assessments and related content including information on future careers and jobs related to social needs.
Reading and phonemic awareness skills, like rhyming.
Learn to Type
Typing program. Great for students who can type due to handwriting issues, but need to work on accuracy or speed.
Print a few copies and let your kiddo get busy!
News-2-You Summer Unit
One of my all time favorite resources has developed a summer unit on the London 2012 Summer Olympics and is offering it for free through Labor Day! New-2-You uses images to clarify content and provides more age-typical reading materials.
Krazydad Printable Mazes (by level)
Discovery Education’s Puzzlemaker
Create a puzzle based on a specific area of interest.
National Geographic Coloring Book
Detailed coloring pages, based on National Geographic topics.
Books & Music
What better way to spend the last of summer than by expanding a reading library or musical interests? Teachers, do you hear that? It’s a free ‘Listening Center’ or ‘Classroom Library’!
AudioStream Children’s Records
Free, classic recordings of children’s records.
Free audio story each week.
International Children’s Digital Library
Variety of international books, generally published in English, that can be read online.
We Give Books
Free reading program for children ages 5 to 8 through the summer. A printable log of all books read is available for free as well.
MeeGenius! Free e-books for kids
Free books available in iPad, Android, and GoogleTV formats.
For the future developer who just can’t be pulled away from the screen!
Snake Wrangling for Kids
A printable, electronic book for kids ages 8 and up on using Python 3 programming language. (Available in Mac, Windows, and Linux formats).
Scratch Computer Coding Tool
A free programming tool developed for children that can be used to create books, videos, and computer programs.
Online activities that can be done (mostly) independently.
Online coloring book! No printing required.
PBS Kids Video
Video clips of favorite PBS Kids shows, including Curious George.
Baby Smash: Computer Use (Cause & Effect)
A great, free, cause and effect computer activity that can be used for individuals interested in visual input or stimulation, as well as for young children.
WatchKnowLearn: Free Video
Free educational videos on specific topics like hurricanes, the water cycle, and The Black Death.
Download ZAC Browser
A web browser developed for individuals on the autism spectrum that provides access to games, activities, and videos.
Fun crafts & science-based activities.
The best, grossest substances ever! (Parents should supervise the creation of these).
Grow Your Own Chiapet
Make unusual Chiapet-type creatures based on an area of interest.
Play with Science (also has multiple webcam feeds including infrared, bridge, and rats from the life science lab!)
Online activities on topics from digestion to money, including activities and video clips.
Get out and get busy!
Home Depot Kid’s Workshop
Sign up to make a project at the Kid’s Workshop.
Find a Local Lego Building League
A great opportunity to meet others with similar interests and practice social skills as well!
Or Go Somewhere… virtually!
Difficult to arrange outings because of a child’s needs (i.e., heat sensitivity, behaviors) or a family’s schedule? No longer permitted to have field trips because of budget cuts? Load a webcam or virtual tour on a classroom projector or computer and begin to explore the world, no matter the distance!
Elephant Sanctuary http://www.elephants.com/
Pittsburgh Zoo & Aquarium http://www.pittsburghzoo.org/
National Aviary Webcams (Falcons & Penguins) www.aviary.org/penguincam/
Butterfly Farm Virtual Tour http://www.butterflyfarm.co.
Enjoy the last of the summer, and continue using most of these tools right into the fall!