Tips to avoid summer “brain drain”

Julie Dunkelberger, library media specialist at Horace Mann, reads with some of her students. She offers tips and ideas to help avoid summer “brain drain.”

During the summer, students can lose some of what they learned at school. Julie Dunkelberger, library media specialist at Horace Mann, offers tips and ideas for fun activities to help avoid summer “brain drain.” 

  • READ FOR FUN! Just 20 minutes a day keeps scores from dropping and actually helps them go UP during the summer! Have a "Drop Everything and Read" moment in your family so that kids see adults enjoying reading, too. Talk about what you are reading. Share thoughts, questions, ideas that come up. Research the spin-off questions together online or at the library.
  • Participate in the Wichita Public Library summer reading program or teen read program and/or attend library events. Go to or to your branch library to explore the summer calendar.
  • Keep a journal. Write about your experiences each day – what you see in nature, daily walk, swimming, reading, cooking, even video games.
  • Learn to cook. Try to make one meal or snack each day by yourself or with an adult. Write your reactions to each recipe: Would you repeat it? What would you change? What did you like or not like? At the end of the summer compile your favorite recipes into a personalized cook book.
  • Play with old toys. Get out the toys you thought you'd never play with again and create something new and creative, like Legos, puzzles, blocks, magnets, cog and wheels. What can you create with them? Try dividing them up equally among siblings or friends and see what different things you can create with the same materials.
  • Plant a small garden. Water and weed it each day. Take pictures or make a journal throughout the summer detailing how it progresses. Make a book at the end of the summer with your journal and what you learned. If you grow flowers, cut them and make a bouquet. If you grow fruits and vegetables, have a tasting party with family or friends.
  • Create a pamphlet or video advertising our city. Pretend you are advertising Wichita for someone who wants to visit. Include places like Exploration Place, the Sedgwick County Zoo, Botanica, Cowtown, Wichita Art Museum, Museum of World Treasures, Riverside Park, College Hill Park or O.J. Watson Park.
  • Learn a new sport. Try tennis, badminton, jump rope, skateboarding, or jogging. Meet with a friend or family member and be active together.
  • Find a pen pal. Write letters or postcards to a friend, family member or a willing teacher. Share your summer experiences. For added fun, create a scrapbook for the other person and give him/her the letters they sent when school starts again.
  • Added vacation fun. Before going on vacation, research the area first, either online or by going to the library, so you can be an expert about what you will see. Take photos and make a journal and/or scrapbook to show your friends about your trip.
  • Create and video a news show with your friends. Seek out cool events, new stores or businesses and fun activities in your neighborhood or community. Write news stories about them and talk about them on camera as if you are news reporters. Also report on the weather and ways to beat the heat. Record your broadcast and share it with family or friends.
  • Create a neighborhood newspaper. Research the history of your neighborhood and write news stories about what is fun and interesting. Have another friend write a paper and compare the two.
  • Write a song/rap about your summer. Record it and share it with family and friends. Create a dance to the song and make a video of you performing. Teach your friends and family your dance. Videotape that, too, for laughs!
  • Learn to sew. Find a friend or family member who has this skill or look up videos on YouTube.
  • Create a sport or a board game. Write the rules, practice playing it and then share it with 5 of your friends. End the summer with a tournament.
Last Updated: 6/1/15
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