Beat the Summer Brain Drain

Toys, Games, and Activities That Put a Stopper in Summer Brain Drain

Your kids (with your help!) worked hard this school year. No matter the grade, they covered an extensive curriculum, grappling with, practicing, and finally mastering key learning skills in multiple subjects. They’ll build on this foundation next year, layering new concepts to master more complex problems. But not if they forgot much of what they learned last year over the summer!

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Research conducted by Dr. Harris Cooper, a professor of psychology currently teaching at Duke University, found that students returning to school after summer vacation have lost between one and three months’ worth of learning. That’s like missing every day of school from April through June!


Additionally, at the start of each year, teachers must spend between 4-6 weeks reviewing previously taught material in order to get kids back up to speed. In many cases, teachers don’t introduce new material until Halloween. That’s 17% of the school year spent re-teaching what your kids already learned – and forgot.

Many parents are aware of this “summer brain drain” and provide plenty of books, writing activities, and trips to the library throughout the summer. While reading is crucial to maintaining language arts, vocabulary, and spelling skills, Cooper’s research actually shows that the loss of math skills is far greater than the loss of reading skills over the summer. But workbooks and flash cards are a tough sell in the lazy days of summer. So what’s a parent to do?

Read on for three FUN and EASY ways to keep math skills sharp over the summer!

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  • Break out the building toys. Open-ended playthings, like Brackitz construction toys for kids, are a great way to sneak some math practice into your child’s summer play sessions. Complex building in the preschool years has been linked to higher scores on math word problems and mathematics achievement in high school. How? Replicating structures develops complex thinking skills. Free building develops spatial skills, a key component of future STEM learning. And construction play is the perfect opportunity to introduce math vocabulary; e.g.: “Let’s add one more plank to your arch.” Click here for free, downloadable, educational activity ideas using building toys, including three terrific, math-infused, Brackitz tower-building challenges!
  • Go for the games. Games are a great way to fill a slow summer afternoon and many dice, card, and board games incorporate varying levels of math practice. The card game Set! (ages 5+) is a playful introduction to patterns and matching – key early math skills – as well as special reasoning and logic skills. 
  • Get physical! Research also shows that kids gain weight 2-3x faster over the summer than they do during the school year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Why not practice math while your kids are moving? Jump rope while skip counting by 2’s or 5’s, race individually and subtract times to find the winner, or play math tag, where each corner of your yard is assigned a different number and the player who’s “it” calls out a math problem and tries to tag runners before they reach the correct corner.

Down time, fun with friends, and engaging books that inspire kids to keep reading are crucial to summer fun, but make time for math this summer and you’ll turn summer brain drain into summer brain gain! And if you want to slip some science into your summer, look no further than Brackitz.

Brackitz is the only construction toy that lets kids design any structure they can imagine - anything. Our unique, connect-anywhere brackitz enables kids to create large scale, portable, 3-D structures – with no instructions or limitations – all while learning real-life math, science, engineering, and architecture skills.

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