Summer Hands-on Learning Themes, Units and Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten Children Free Printables Included

The summer season is the perfect time to encourage children to explore, learn, and have fun while discovering the wonders of the world around them. As a Montessori educator or parent, you know the importance of providing hands-on, engaging activities that foster curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Let’s explore some exciting summer learning themes and activities that will keep your preschool and kindergarten students engaged and motivated.

Girl looking through a magnifying glass in summer dress

Theme 1: Summer Garden

Planting Seeds: Provide children with small pots, soil, and seeds. Have them plant their own seeds and observe the growth process over the summer.

Gardening Tools: Introduce children to gardening tools such as watering cans, rakes, and hoes. Let them practice using these tools to care for their plants.

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up
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Flower Arranging: Collect various flowers and let children create their own flower arrangements using baskets, vases, and other materials.

Free Printable: Parts of a Plant [Click here to download]. Use parts of a plant diagram and sorting cards to teach children about seeds, plants, and gardening in a fun and interactive way.

Parts of a plant set.

Theme 2: water and Water Safety

Water Play: Set up a water play station with cups, spoons, and other materials. Have children experiment with different textures and temperatures while learning about evaporation and condensation.

Water Cycle: Use simple diagrams and illustrations to teach children about the water cycle, including evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, and collection.

Water Conservation: Teach children about the importance of water conservation and have them help implement simple water-saving practices in your classroom or home.

Water Safety Rules: Teach children important water safety rules such as entering the water feet first, swimming with a buddy, and staying close to the shore. Use visual aids and role-playing to reinforce these rules.

Water Exploration: Set up a water play station with a water table, cups, and other materials. Let children experiment with different textures and temperatures while learning about buoyancy and floating.

Pool or Beach Day: Plan a trip to a local pool or beach and have children practice water safety skills such as entering and exiting the water safely, treading water, and swimming short distances.

Free Printable: Land and Water Forms [Click here to download].

Water Safety Tips for Parents and Caregivers

  • Supervise Children: Always supervise children when they are in or near the water.
  • Teach Children How to Swim: Enroll your child in swim lessons or teach them how to swim yourself.
  • Use Life Jackets: Make sure your child wears a properly fitting life jacket when they are in or near the water.
  • Create a Safe Environment: Remove any hazards or distractions from the pool or beach area, such as toys or pets.
  • Create a “Water Safety” Poster: Have children create a poster that illustrates important water safety rules and tips.
  • Role-Play Water Emergencies: Use puppets or dolls to role-play different water emergencies, such as a child falling into the water or a swimmer getting tired. Have children practice what they would do in each situation.

Theme 3: Ocean Exploration

Sensory Bin: Fill a bin with sand, water, and ocean-themed toys such as shells, fish, and other beach finds. Let children explore the textures and sounds of the ocean.

Ocean Animals: Use puzzles, matching games, and sorting activities to teach children about different ocean animals such as fish, dolphins, and whales.

Beachcombing: Take a trip to the beach or a nearby lake and have children collect interesting objects such as rocks, shells, and sea glass. Let them use their imagination to create stories about their finds.

Free Printables: Beach Matching Cards [Click here to download] Seasons Sorting Cards [Click here to download]

A box of stickers with a beach scene on it.

Theme 4: Community Helpers and Social Awareness

Littering Awareness: Organize a “clean-up” activity at a local park or playground. Provide children with trash bags and gloves and encourage them to collect litter that is safe to collects, and dispose of it properly. Discuss the importance of keeping our community clean and how littering affects the environment.

Here’s a list of safe and suitable litter that children can collect:

Plastic bottles: Empty and clean plastic bottles are easy to collect and can be recycled. Make sure they’re free of sharp edges and caps.

Straws: Plastic straws are a common litter item that can be collected and recycled.

Candy wrappers: Chocolates, lollipops, and other sweet treats often come with wrappers that can be collected.

Paper bags: Empty paper bags are biodegradable and can be collected.

Styrofoam pieces: Small, clean styrofoam pieces (e.g., from packing materials) can be collected.

Plastic spoons: Clean, plastic spoons are safe for children to collect and recycle.

Caps and lids: Empty, clean caps and lids from plastic containers are easy to collect and can be recycled.

What to avoid collecting:

Glass or sharp objects: Glass, sharp metal, or objects with sharp edges can be hazardous for children to handle.

Chemical containers: Containers holding chemicals, pesticides, or other hazardous substances should not be collected.

Food waste: Avoid collecting food waste, as it can attract pests and create unsanitary conditions.

Batteries or electronics: Batteries, wires, and electronic components can be hazardous for children to handle and should not be collected.

Biological materials: Avoid collecting animal waste, dead animals, or plants with seeds or spores that could spread diseases.

Remember to always supervise young children during litter collection activities, and encourage them to wash their hands thoroughly afterward.

Additional tips:

Teach children how to handle litter safely: Show them how to pick up litter gently and carefully, avoiding any sharp or sticky objects.

Use gloves and bags: Provide gloves and bags for children to collect litter in, making it easier to transport the collected items back to a designated recycling area.

Set up a designated recycling area: Designate a specific area where children can deposit their collected litter, making it easier to sort and recycle the items.

Involve children in the process: Encourage children to participate in sorting, categorizing, and recycling the collected litter, teaching them about the importance of recycling and conservation.

Feeding Ducks: Teach children about the importance of feeding ducks properly. Discuss what foods are safe for ducks to eat and what foods to avoid. Provide children with duck food and have them practice feeding ducks in a responsible manner. Best foods to feed ducks are: whole corn, lettuce, brown rice, oats, and frozen peas.

Picnic Etiquette: Set up a picnic area and provide children with snacks and drinks. Discuss the importance of collecting trash and leaving the area clean after a picnic. Practice packing up and disposing of trash properly.

Wild Animal Feeding: Teach children about the importance of not feeding wild animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, or birds. Discuss how this can create dependent behavior and harm the animals in the long run. Provide children with educational materials and have them create posters or drawings to promote responsible wildlife behavior.

Free Printable: Summer Geoboard Task Cards [Click here to download]

A set of four cards with geometric shapes on them.

Theme 5: Summer Weather

Cloud Watching: Set up a “cloud watching” station with binoculars and a journal. Have children observe the clouds and draw or write about their observations.

Weather Forecasting: Use simple weather instruments such as thermometers and barometers to teach children about different types of weather. Have them create their own weather forecasts using pictures and symbols.

Water Play: Set up water tables or water play stations with cups, spoons, and other materials. Let children experiment with different textures and temperatures while learning about evaporation and condensation.

Free Printable: Types of Clothing for Different Types of Weather [Click here to download]

Theme 6: Summer Festivals

Cultural Celebrations: Research different summer festivals from around the world such as summer solstice, the Feast of Saint-Jean the Baptist, the Fourth of July, Diwali, or Obon. Have children create their own cultural celebrations by making traditional crafts and foods.

The Feast of Saint-Jean the Baptist is a significant celebration in France, particularly in the towns and villages along the Mediterranean coast. The festival takes place on June 24th and marks the birth of Saint John the Baptist, who is considered the patron saint of many towns and cities. The celebration typically begins with a traditional feast, featuring local specialties such as grilled fish, bread, and pastries. The festivities often include music, dance, and games, and are usually accompanied by fireworks and bonfires.

To make this celebration fun and engaging for kids, you can plan some exciting activities. For example, you can set up a treasure hunt around the neighborhood or town, with clues and riddles leading to a hidden treasure chest filled with small treats and toys. You can also organize a traditional French dance party, complete with accordions and fiddle music, and teach kids some traditional French dances like the Bourrée. Additionally, you can set up a craft station where kids can make their own traditional French crafts, such as paper flowers or wooden rosaries. Finally, you can have a fun food-making activity where kids can help prepare traditional French dishes like croissants or baguettes, and then enjoy the fruits of their labor together as a family.

The summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, is a significant celebration in many cultures around the world. This ancient tradition marks the beginning of summer and is often associated with themes of fertility, growth, and renewal.

The summer solstice occurs on the following dates:

Northern Hemisphere: Typically around June 20 or June 21 (UTC)
Southern Hemisphere: Typically around December 21 or December 22 (UTC)
Note that these dates and times are approximate and can vary slightly from year to year due to the Earth’s slightly elliptical orbit around the Sun.

To celebrate the summer solstice with kids, you can create a fun and interactive experience that combines nature, creativity, and cultural awareness. Here’s a possible way to do it:

Gather your kids and head outdoors to a nearby park or garden. Start by explaining the significance of the summer solstice and how it’s celebrated in different cultures. You can also read stories or show pictures to give them a sense of what it’s all about.

Next, set up a few stations or activities that reflect the themes of the summer solstice. For example, you can create a “fertility” station where kids can plant seeds or flowers to symbolize new growth and abundance. You can also set up a “sun” station where kids can make their own sun crowns or sun masks using natural materials like flowers, leaves, and sticks.

Another activity you can do is a scavenger hunt for items that are associated with the summer solstice, such as sunflowers, daisies, or butterflies. You can also have a picnic or potluck lunch where kids can share their favorite foods and snacks.

Finally, end the celebration with a special treat or activity that’s unique to your family or culture. For example, you can make some traditional summer solstice treats like sun-shaped cookies, or you can have a special dance or music performance that’s associated with the summer solstice.

Music Making: Use simple instruments such as drums, maracas, and tambourines to teach children about different types of music. Have them create their own songs and rhythms.

Food Preparation: Set up a cooking station with simple recipes such as popsicles, fruit kebabs, or trail mix. Have children help prepare and taste their creations.

Free Printable: The Earth Goes Around the Sun [ Click here to download ]

Theme 7: Ponds and Wetlands

Water Quality Testing: Set up a water testing station with pH paper, thermometers, and other simple tools. Have children test the water quality of a nearby pond or wetland and record their findings.

Pond Life: Create a diorama or model of a pond ecosystem using rocks, plants, and small animals. Have children learn about the different types of plants and animals that live in ponds and wetlands.

Wetland Walk: Take a walk around a nearby pond or wetland and have children observe the different types of plants and animals that live there. Encourage them to ask questions and make observations about their surroundings.

Free Printable: Viviparous and Oviparous Animals Sort [Click here to download]

Viviparous and Oviparous Animals Sort montessori nature preschool Free Printable

Theme 8: Camping

Tent Building: Set up a tent and have children work together to build their own tents using simple materials such as blankets and sticks.

Camping Gear: Introduce children to different camping gear such as flashlights, sleeping bags, and backpacks. Let them practice using these tools in a simulated camping setting.

Campfire Cooking: Set up a pretend campfire or use a camping stove to teach children about basic cooking skills such as roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.

Free Printable: Different Types of Trees 3 Part Cards [Click here to download]

Theme 9: National Parks

National Parks Map: Provide children with a map of the United States and have them locate different national parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion. Discuss the unique features and landscapes of each park.
Animal Habitats: Use puzzles, matching games, and sorting activities to teach children about different animals found in national parks such as bears, bison, and wolves. Discuss their habitats and how they adapt to their environments.
Nature Journaling: Take children on a nature walk in a nearby park or nature reserve and have them collect leaves, rocks, and other natural objects. Encourage them to draw or write about their observations and create a nature journal.

Free Printable: Nature Journal [Click here to Download]

Trail Mix: Let children create their own trail mix using nuts, dried fruits, and other healthy ingredients. Discuss the importance of packing snacks on a hike.

Hiking Gear: Introduce children to basic hiking gear such as backpacks, water bottles, and walking sticks. Have them practice using these tools in a simulated hike.

Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a scavenger hunt with items commonly found on a hike such as leaves, rocks, and feathers. Have children work together to find the items on the list.

Free Printable: Nature Scavenger Hunt [Click here to download]

Animal Tracking: Use puzzles and matching games to teach children about different animal tracks and how they are used for conservation purposes.

Free Printable: Animal Tracks 3 Part Cards [Click here to download]

Wildlife Habitat: Set up a habitat diorama using figurine animals and plants to teach children about the importance of preserving wildlife habitats.

Theme 10: Farm

Farm Animals: Set up a farm animal station with stuffed animals, pictures, and simple facts about different farm animals. Have children learn about the different types of animals that live on farms and their roles.

Planting: Plant seeds in a designated area and have children help with the planting process. Teach them about the importance of agriculture and where our food comes from.

Farm-to-Table: Set up a simple farm-to-table experience by having children help with harvesting fruits or vegetables from a nearby garden or farm. Have them help prepare a simple meal using their harvest.

Free Printables: Farm Coordinates [Click here to download] Farm Animal Families [Click here to download] Farm and Forest Sorting Cards [Click here to download]

A set of cards with pictures of cows and turkeys.

Tips for Implementing Montessori Learning Themes

  • Make it Hands-On: Provide hands-on activities that allow children to engage with the material in a concrete way.
  • Encourage Exploration: Encourage children to explore and discover new things, rather than simply following instructions.
  • Use Real-Life Examples: Use real-life examples to illustrate concepts and make them more relatable to children’s everyday lives.
  • Foster Curiosity: Encourage children to ask questions and explore their surroundings.
  • Prepare the Environment: Set up a Montessori-inspired environment that encourages exploration and discovery.
  • Encourage Independent Learning: Allow children to work independently while providing guidance and support as needed.
  • Use Real-Life Materials: Use real-life materials such as plants, rocks, and water to teach children about the world around them.

By incorporating these hands-on Montessori educational learning themes and activities into your summer program for preschool and kindergarten children, you’ll be providing a fun and engaging learning experience that will foster a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Happy summer!

Summer resources you might find helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.