Fun Summer Learning Resources


Disclosure: I was sent copies of these books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Last February we found an amazing school to switch Hazel to. They have a spring break in March that lasts for two weeks. Hazel was supposed to start right after the break, but the pandemic hit and our state closed down. Her school started after that break with remote learning for last year. This year however they went in person with the daily choice of a student going remote. Although it has been a strange year, it has been an amazing year. Hazel has so much more confidence. She is standing up straighter and just overall happier. Finding the right school makes so much difference and we didn't really realize it until this year. Today is her last day of school and summer begins! Now since she has been learning in person she is not one of the kids that has lost so much during the pandemic. However I know there are many kids who have. I see the posts and articles with the concerns of what kids lost this year, will they be behind, etc. I also know there are people who are looking for ways to help catch them up this summer. My advice is to find fun ways to help them catch up and learn something new. Today I am going to share some books that will do just this. The first book is Top Secret: Spies, Codes, Capers, Gadgets, and Classified Cases Revealed by Crispin Boyer and Suzanne Zimbler. 

From the Publisher:

Oh, didn't realize you were leaving behind a trail of evidence? You will after you read this book! In fact, you'll know all the tricks of the spy trade, get the scoop behind sleuthing, and discover all kinds of skills, like how ninjas walked on water. You'll read about cold cases and hidden places, cool disguises and wicked surprises, menacing mysteries, undiscovered histories, and so much more!

From the world's most elite spy agencies to the coolest spy gadgets of today and the most spine-tingling conspiracies and covert cover-ups ever, this book is jam-packed with everything that's allowed to be revealed. You'll get to take a crack at codes that leave even the world's most elite code breakers totally stumped, get behind-the-scenes access to how movie magic really happens, take a sneak peek at the world's most covert recipes, unravel the tricks magicians use to astonish their audiences, and get up close with the world's most mysterious places. With tongue-in-cheek "How to Be a Spy" activities, you and your friends will get to put your budding spy skills to the test. And when you're all done ... don't forget to wipe this book for prints and store it safely with your secret stash. After all, you don't want it falling into the wrong hands!

From Me:

National Geographic Kids did it again. This book is full of interesting facts from secret codes to spies and and their gadgets. This book has the math relation to coding. It has science built in with the gadgets as well as reasons for things. It has history throughout it from information about the spies, the President's car, and more. Plus it has fun coded riddles to solve in each chapter as well as activities throughout the book.

Yes, it goes through the ways the Colosseum worked with secret trap doors and more. It goes through the history of the Secret Service. Did you know their first job was not protecting the President? Or that President Lincoln signed the paperwork creating the Secret Service the day he was assassinated? 

The book shares about spies--particular ones as well as general ones. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptians had spies. The Japanese spies were ninjas. These are all in this book. Plus there is information about the training of a spy in the United States as well as spy language. There is information about the Cold War.

It is not just about humans either! The book goes into nature with ways of spies and hidden secrets. There is biology built in. Plus there is chemistry and more. The best part is the book is the learning is there but it is fun and doesn't feel like learning.

The book has so many fun activities from forming your own spy ring to making a fingerprint kit and more! I hope you will check it out. It is suggested for ages 8 to 12.

Our next book is Perilous Problems for Puzzle Lovers: Math, Logic & Word Puzzles to Challenge Your Brain by Alex Bellos. These problems are perfect to keep minds (your kids or yours) going all summer. 

From the Publisher:

Put your wits—and survival instincts—to the test!

Publisher’s Note: Perilous Problems for Puzzle Lovers was previously published in the UK under the title So You Think You’ve Got Problems?

In Perilous Problems for Puzzle Lovers, Alex Bellos collects 125 of the world’s greatest stumpers—many dangerous to your person, and all dangerous to your pride. Brace yourself to wrestle with wordplay, grapple with geometry, and scramble for survival. For example . . .

Ten lions and a sheep are in a pen. Any lion who eats the sheep will fall asleep. A sleeping lion will be eaten by another lion, who falls asleep in turn. If the lions are all perfect logicians, what happens?

Bellos pairs his fiendish brainteasers with fascinating history, so you’ll meet Alcuin, Sam Loyd, and other puzzle masters of yore—in between deranged despots and wily jailers with an unaccountable taste for riddles. Will you make it out alive? And what about the sheep?

From Me:

Now this book is not written for kids. It is considered an adult book but it definitely will work with high school and maybe middle school kids. The problems are tough and require quite a bit of thinking, but not necessarily higher math skills. These problems will help develop thinking skills, logic skills and more. There will be problems that will be above some kids skill levels but others they will solve more quickly. If they are getting frustrated, they should move onto a different problem. Their brains are still developing some of the skills needed to solve some of these problems and they may not have that development yet.

Now as a math teacher I always loved giving these type of puzzles to add some fun and challenge to my classes. I also loved solving them as a child and still do. These problems will keep your brain active as well as help kids discover problem solving skills. This is a fun book for anyone who loves puzzles and problem solving. Plus the harder puzzles could be a family affair and see if they can be solved together. One of the best ways to learn is to teach others. 
I hope you will check out both of these books and stay tuned the next couple of weeks for more books and resources to keep the kids learning this summer in fun ways! I shared some great educational coloring books for kids aged 8 to 12 last week.