Common Sense Media: “9 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out”

Posted by on May 13, 2016 in Professional Development, Resources, Student Opportunities, Summer Camps, Summer Courses | Comments Off on Common Sense Media: “9 Online Summer Camps to Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) While School’s Out”

11159542_10153252680259467_394562985499563742_nThis is a partial reprint of an article written by Caroline Knorr for Common Sense Media, Senior Parenting Editor


Start with a Book:  Free; age 6 and up – In addition to a summer science camp, this site offers a long list of themes, such Art, Night Sky, and Weather Report, for kids to explore.  For each theme, you get a Reading Adventure Pack, which includes book suggestions (for all reading levels), parent information, and outdoor activities based on the theme.  You will need to shell out for books if you cannot find them at the library.

Camp Google:  Free, but materials cost extra; age 7 and up. – Each week, Camp Google offers a new adventure, centered on topics such as space or the ocean.  Kids complete indoor activities, such as making a magnifying glass, and take their learning outdoors – for example, to examine insects they will also watch videos to see topics such as what the bottom of the ocean looks like or view an astronaut/space -friendly food cook-off.

DIY:  Free and fee-based; age 7 and up. – This site offers dozens of skill-based activities (which it calls “challenges”) in a variety of categories, including Art, Business, and Engineering, that kids can do year-round.  Every summer, DIY runs camps and shorter courses.  Some of the camps have online counselors who interact with your kid.  Sign up to get notified of the latest offerings.

Make: Online:  Free, but materials cost extra; age 12 and up. – The folks behind the maker movement offer weekly camps based on themes such as Far Out Future and Flight.  You get a PDF with daily activities that support the theme such as, making slime and designing and flying kites.

Khan Academy:  Free; age 6 and up. – While Khan Academy does not offer specific camps, it provides meaningful, step-by-step exploration in a variety of topics including math, science, arts, and humanities.  Kids can sign up with a coach (a teacher, parent, or tutor) who can monitor their progress and suggest lessons.  Kids can also earn badges and energy points, which are meant to engage and motivate.  The custom dashboard has a progress map that fills up as kids work their way through the skills.

Brain Chase: $79, extra for electives; ages 6-16 – Created by two parents who were looking for a way to help their kids continue learning during summer.  Brain Chase is a clever, creative, and most importantly, fun six-week program, starting June 20, 2016, that provides both virtual and real-world payoffs.  Kids practice and learn math, reading, and typing all the while competing in a treasure hunt for the chance to win a $10,000 scholarship.

Camp Wonderopolis:  Free for campers; optional $25 instruction guide for the parents; age 7 and up. – Sponsored by the National Center for the Family Literacy (NCFL), this online camp lets kids explore topics such as weather, food, and technology.  Each topic includes lessons, outdoor activities, videos, and additional reading suggestions for all ages.

Connected Camps: $49-$79; age 8 and up. – If full-Minecraft immersion is on your kids’s summer agenda, check out Connected Camps.  This site offers instructor-led Minecraft-based sessions in architecture, coding, game design, and more.  There are also special girls-only camps and free hosted  events for Minecraft enthusiasts.

TechRocket:  Free for a course sampling; memberships: $19/year, $29/month; age 10 and up. – Launched by iDTechCamp (the popular–and pricey–computer day and overnight camps), TechRocket offers online instruction in coding, game design, and graphic design.  Each camp offers a variety of levels and challenges as well as a dedicated instructor.

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