Take Learning on the Road this Summer

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Summer is officially here, and children everywhere are rejoicing as they take a much-needed break from the daily grind of school. The swimming pool, beach, and couch in front of the TV all beckon. But the long summer break holds its own dangers as much hard-won learning falls by the wayside.

Still, the joyous anticipation of summer traveling can have its own learning reward, if parents are strategic and thoughtful in planning their summer travels. There are a number of ways to turn summer vacation into a series of unique learning opportunities. Read on!

Source: Pixabay

Keep a Journal

EDSitement encourages students to use their summer travel experiences to learn about new places and document their understanding of what they encounter. They can also use the journal to challenge themselves to answer questions about the places they are visiting:

  • What’s special about this place?
  • Who comes here to vacation?
  • Do people live here, year-round?
  • What was this place like 100 years ago?
  • What will it be like 100 years from now?

Finding the answers to questions such as these can set students on a path to understanding the historical and cultural significance of their vacation destinations.

Map and Compare

Kids can use National Geographic’s XPeditions Atlas to make a map of the places they travel in advance, print it out, and draw their vacation route. They can also note where they stop along the way.

While they’re planning travel, they can take some time to learn about other famous travelers that came before them, such as through “Marco Polo and His Travels.

To better appreciate the comforts of modern-day travel, despite traffic jams and airport lines, read about what travel was like in the 1850s on the Oregon Trail at OregonTrail101.

Create a Vacation Guide

Kids can create a tourist guide of their vacation destination using a travel brochure template from ReadWriteThink.

Visit a City

A visit to a city can give your family a hearty dose of art, culture and science in a short period of time. Look for children’s museums, natural history or science museums, aquariums, zoos and art museums.

Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC (Source: Hammster Media)


Get Historic

Historic destinations abound, from the Gettysburg  Battlefield in Pennsylvania, to the Freedom Trail in Boston, to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, to, well, everything in Washington, D.C.

Visit a Park

If your kids love nature and wildlife – and what child doesn’t? – try a family vacation to a national park or a state park. Before you leave home, visit the park’s websites to see what family activities are offered. You can get involved in the National Park Passport Program, collecting stamps at each one you visit, an activity that can be continued throughout your kids’ childhoods.  Or your children can participate in the Junior Ranger Program and earn a patch or certificate for participating in educational activities.

Follow Their Passions

Pursue your children’s passion on vacation.

Is your child obsessed with dinosaurs? Consider a trip to Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument, where visitors can see over 1,500 dinosaur fossils exposed on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

Got a future astronaut in your household? Visit the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (It’s not that far from Walt Disney World, so you could add a little plain old fun while you’re at it.)

Eiffel Tower, Paris (Source: Hammster Media)

Visit Another Country

Nothing shifts the perspective as much as visiting another culture. Experiencing different foods, language, customs, weather and terrain lays the groundwork for hundreds of lessons learned. Start with a capital city such as Paris, London or Rome and immerse yourself in the food, history, art and culture of the country. You can walk around, take a double-decker bus ride, visit historical sites, art museums, outdoor festivals, and of course, restaurants.

These are just a few ideas for how to make your family vacation education. Be creative and you can find many more!  Get the kids involved in the planning and they will learn even more. Have a great summer!

Photo of Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Oracle Awards Curriki $20K Grant

By Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

OracleWe are thrilled to announce that Oracle has donated $20,000 to the leading K-12 global community for creating and sharing Open Educational Resources (OER). The grant will be used to add necessary functionality to the Curriki.org website, allowing Curriki to expand its library of high-quality STEM and Computer Science open educational resources.

Through Oracle Giving, the company helps nonprofit organizations around the world awaken and deepen students’ interest in computer science (CS) and science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM).

Curriki appreciates this grant, as our website is our primary tool for distributing high-quality OER to teachers and learners worldwide. We also really appreciate Oracle’s ongoing commitment to Curriki’s mission over 5 years.

Nicole Snow, Senior Manager of Oracle Giving, has this to say about why  Oracle is committed to Curriki: “Oracle is dedicated to supporting Education and proud to be part of Curriki’s vision of inspiring learning everywhere. We’re excited to see the growth of Open Educational Resources that will expand learning communities for students and teachers globally.”

Kim Jones is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Curriki. Kim is active in driving policy initiatives and is regularly featured as an honorary speaker on the impact of technology in education at influential meetings around the world. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Budget-Friendly Summer Learning

By Lani deGuia Guest Blogger and Curriki Member

Not every child has the opportunity to go to camp where their summer days are structured with learning activities from morning until night. Summer is the part of the year where parents need to get creative in keeping their kids more than occupied on a dime. However, learning in the summer doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some ideas for keeping summer slide under control for budget-conscious families.

Free Summer Movies

Regal Summer Movie Express

Regal Summer Movie Express

Want to make reading come alive this summer? Find out what free and low-cost summer movies are being offered and prepare for it by having your child read a book that compliments one of the movies. Many cities offer “free outdoor movies in the park” nights where you can bring a picnic blanket and enjoy a movie together under the stars. Movie chains such as Regal Cinemas offer the “Summer Movie Express,”  where on certain days and times, movies are offered for only $1. AMC Theaters offers a Summer Movie Camp for $4 and it includes a meal! Read Charlie Brown comics and then watch The Peanuts Movie. You can even read Paddington and watch Paddington 2! Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are also great sources of movies based on books.


Many local museums offer free admission days during the summertime, at least on certain days of the week. This can include art museums, aquariums, and historical landmarks. Is your child longing for more museum fun, but you can’t travel this summer? Check out the variety of free online virtual tours of many notable museums around the world. You can visit the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, The Louvre, NASA, the National Women’s History Museum, and more … all from the comfort of your own home!

Volunteer Opportunities

NASA learning

NASA Learning

Children as young as preschool can get a start in helping others out of the goodness of their hearts. Lending time and talents to a worthy cause can not only benefit children socially and emotionally, but also be a vehicle to see real-world problem-solving. Parents can get creative in finding one-time or regular volunteer opportunities for their kids. Do you have a neighbor, friend or family member who needs help with a task around the house? You can have your child offer their time to make things easier for them. Check out local museums, nursing homes, food banks, schools, and organizations for youth volunteer opportunities. Habitat for Humanity, the National Park Conservation Corps, American Red Cross and Do Something are just some organizations that have youth programs.

Summer Reading Programs

Most local libraries run a summer reading program that includes summer reading lists, book clubs, reading logs, and prizes for reading achievement in the summer. However, did you know many bookstores have summer reading programs as well? Barnes and Noble offers a program where children can earn free books for reaching certain benchmarks throughout the summer. Books-A-Million is offering a free summer book, pencil case, and/or pencils when children read four books from summer reading lists.

Local Recreation Programs

Check your local Parks and Recreation centers for events that are free and open to the public. These not only cover topics such as fitness and sports, but also art, culture, science, and math. You may find a one-day family fishing event for $2 or a 4-week painting class for free!

Summer Coding

There are a variety of coding resources and online classes available for students to explore their interests in programming. 42 Silicon Valley offers free online coding classes for high school students where they can learn 21st Century skills and more sophisticated math concepts.

Maker Education

Do you have a child that loves to build things? Perhaps a budding engineer? Maker education is increasingly popular and is a sure way to get kids thinking about real-world problem solving and the application of math and science in designing a product. Stores like Home Depot offer classes for children and/or parents in building things such as birdhouses, cars and more. Makerspaces operate across the United States and give children the opportunities to practice design principles and technology.

Summer is a time to explore and learn through experience. There are a multitude of experiences that don’t cost a fortune and can become fantastic learning opportunities!

Lani deGuia is a Norfolk, VA-based Educational Consultant with experience writing and developing curriculum and managing school technology. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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School’s Almost Out: How to Keep Students Engaged

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, Curriki

Ah, the end of the school year. Blue skies. Birds singing. Warm temperatures. The thump of a bat against a ball. The lure of the singing ice cream truck. Who wants to be inside when the outdoors beckons?

That’s a teacher’s challenge – keeping students engaged when the summer vacation beckons and they are already checking out.

Curriki Resources

Kids with balloons

Source: WeAreTeachers

Curriki has a bunch of fun ideas to keep your classroom energy up, including making a class autograph book, having students bring in t-shirts to sign, throwing a piñata party, sharing high and low points of the year, giving out Academy Awards for books, and many more!

Here are a few tips we gathered around the Internet:

We Are Teachers

Weareteachers.com says you can “beat the wiggles” using these 5 strategies:

  1. Do a project. – Group projects are a great way to keep the class engaged
  2. Spice it up with a guest speaker – students may be getting tired of hearing your voice and would respond well to a fresh source of learning.
  3. Try some friendly competition. – Adding friendly competition to a project can motivate a “checked out” student.
  4. Take extra care of yourself – you students deserve a teacher who is healthy and well-rested, especially as you are crossing the school-year finish line.
  5. Add elements of surprise to your units or lessons. Suggestions include creating a trail of hints, offering a mystery prize and creating guessing games.

Create Abilities Blog

Creatabilities tips

Source: Creatabilities

The Create Abilities blog offers 10 end-of-year activities to keep your students engaged, including:

  1. Create a Paper Chain Countdown to count down the days till school’s out.
  2. Display your students’ work for parents
  3. Have your students write something to next year’s students
  4. Make a Class Book to add to your classroom library
  5. Have a Classroom Award Ceremony
  6. Give your students extra recess time
  7. Do service projects as a class
  8. Recruit your students for your yearly classroom purge

Here are some other resources:

  • Edutopia – How to stay charged during the final weeks of school
  • Teach Hub – How to Motivate Students at the End of the School Year
  • Middle Web, in addition to offering hints on how to keep students charged during the last weeks of school, offers Year End Stress, Teacher Version, to help YOU stay energetic and engaged.

Enjoy the rest of the school year!

Photo of Janet PintoJanet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer & Chief Marketing Officer, leads and manages all of Curriki’s content development, user experience, and academic direction. Learn more at Curriki.org.

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Follow Curriki on YouTube — we have a number of fascinating, educational new videos!