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Summer Themes and Units for Preschool, Pre K, and Kindergarten: Lesson Plans, Activities, and Crafts

Updated on February 22, 2015
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Summer Unit Ideas
Beach / Ocean / Under the Sea
Summer Foods
4th of July

This summer consider adding a few new preschool or kindergarten themes and units to your standard curriculum. Many teachers benefit from developing a rotation of units and themes to use during an entire season or that they can change up from year to year. It is important to remember that a strong unit will carry through the entire academic curriculum and will not be contained to a single subject area. As you get used to integrating topics across subjects, the ideas will start to flow. Before you know it, you'll have more material than you'll ever be able to use. Happy summer!

Summer Themes and Units Can Be Used for all of These Academic Areas

Social Studies
A play tent is a perfect place to enjoy a snack or meal.
A play tent is a perfect place to enjoy a snack or meal. | Source


  • Set up a play tent indoors or outdoors. Students will enjoy the experience of setting up a tent outdoors but will most likely get to spend more time in a tent that is indoors. Let the tent be a choice for free play time throughout the unit. Students may enjoy doing any number of their regular activities, such as coloring and eating snack, in the tent.
  • Make s'mores. If you are not able to make s'mores on an outdoor fire, there are lots of options for making s'mores indoors as well as making s'more foods such as cookies and cake. For more s'more ideas, including crafts, check out the link below.
  • Camping activity days. Dedicate different days during the unit for activities that many people enjoy while camping such as fishing and hiking. For example, you can create a pond out of blue paper and have the students "fish" for letters or sight words.
  • Spend time in the dark with flashlights. Turn off the lights or head into a pitch black tent and turn on the flashlights. Consider hiding objects around the classroom or the tent to search for with the lights.
  • Sleeping bag nap time. Have students bring in their sleeping bags one day during the unit and let them sleep in them during nap time.
  • Camping scenery. Have the students help you design camping scenery for the walls, such as a large painting of mountains and a lake. You can take it one step further and put up a black ceiling with "stars" such as Christmas lights.



  • Discuss the importance of swimming and swimming safety tips. Why is swimming an important skill set? Consider general safety tips as well as tips that are specific for different settings such as the pool and the beach.
  • Share favorite pool games. One of the best parts about going swimming as a child is playing games. Have students share some of their favorites and learn about additional games as a class.
  • Take a swimming field trip. Many summer classes and camps have regular pool outings or other swimming opportunities in the curriculum (i.e. a day trip to the lake). If you can't arrange for a regular schedule, consider making a special trip for the unit.

How to Teach Kids to Swim : Proper Body Position for Children Learning to Swim


The Rainbow Fish: StorylineOnline

Beach / Ocean / Under the Sea

  • Ocean plants and animals. Learn about just a few of the plants and animals that live in the ocean. How does ocean life differ from lake or sea life?
  • Create a beach setting in the classroom. While you may not want real sand all over the place, create beach scenery (i.e. a wall mural with a waterfront and bright sun), bring in beach props (i.e. sand toys), and let students bring in towels to lounge on the "beach." Label all of the beach items in the classroom to work on vocabulary building.
  • Make seashell crafts. There are lots of simple, beautiful crafts that kids can make with seashells. You can purchase or provide seashells for the students if you are not able to gather real shells as a class.
  • Read the book The Rainbow Fish. There are numerous educational activities available online that you can use with this book that are perfect for a beach or ocean unit.
  • Yellow Submarine. Make a yellow submarine wall, door, or bulletin board display for your class unit worksheets and projects.

Get out to watch sunrises and sunsets during your unit and take pictures to share with your students.
Get out to watch sunrises and sunsets during your unit and take pictures to share with your students. | Source

Don't forget to talk about the sun during your daily weather and calendar discussion.


  • Characteristics and functions. Make a list of the sun's characteristics and the functions that it has. How does the sun help people on Earth every day?
  • Paper plate suns. A paper plate is a perfect base for a sun. You can decorate plates with paint, markers, crayons, pastels, tissue paper, and much more. The possibilities are endless.
  • Melting. Experiment with placing items, such as ice cubes, in shady vs. sunny spots outside and watching how quickly they melt. Have the students discuss the differences that they observe with this process in the different locations.
  • Sensory. Create a sun sensory bin that allows students to explore the water cycle and how the sun plays a role in helping plants grow.
  • Rotation. Have students take on the roles of the sun and the earth to demonstrate how the earth revolves around the sun.
  • Make sun tea. Draw pictures throughout the process of making sun tea to document what happens to the water during the process.
  • Flashlights. Use flashlights to mimic how the sun makes shadows, etc.


How To Make French Vanilla Ice Cream

Summer Foods

There are so many different delicious foods that people enjoy during the summer including ice cream, barbecue and other grilled foods, fresh fruit, and cold drinks. You can focus on a single food or set of foods (i.e. fruit) or learn about (and eat!) many different foods during the summer.

  • Cooking. Seek out opportunities to buy seasonal foods (farmers markets, farm stands, etc.) and make recipes with them as a class. Assign kids age appropriate tasks during the cooking process.
  • Have a picnic. One of the best parts about cooking food is eating it. Take advantage of the warm weather and enjoy some of your freshly prepared foods outside.
  • Write your own recipes. Have the students each write their own recipe for a dish or drink that they would enjoy during the summer. Encourage them to include as many details as possible. Compile a cookbook with all of the recipes.
  • Visit a local restaurant that serves a great summer food. For example, is there an ice cream shop in your town that has some of the best ice cream around? If possible, arrange for a tour or demonstration during your visit.
  • Nutrition. Preparing and enjoying food lends itself naturally to many different types of discussions about nutrition.

2012 London Summer Olympics
2012 London Summer Olympics | Source


  • History. Learn a little bit about how the Olympics got started and how the games have evolved over the years.
  • Class Olympics. Have the students vote on games that they would like to play during their own class Olympics. Award metals for the top participants in each event. Be creative with the metals that you award. The students may enjoy selecting or designing the metals.
  • Make up your own games. As part of the class Olympics or as a separate activity, students can work in pairs or small groups to invent their own Olympic events.
  • Components of the games. In addition to metals, consider making an Olympic torch, country flags, laurel wreath crowns, and anything else that would be appropriate for the games.
  • Sportsmanship. Any type of athletic competition naturally opens the door to discussions about being a good sport. The Olympics are no exception.
  • Goal setting. Discuss how how athletes have to work to be able to compete in the Olympics. How can we work to achieve goals in our own lives?


4th of July

  • Learn patriotic songs. Pick a couple patriotic songs to learn during the unit that most students do not know and work on committing them to memory.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance. Do you say the pledge together every day as a class? Break it down and learn about the meaning behind each line.
  • American flag. Learn about the history of the American flag and why the number of stars has changed over time.
  • Create 4th of July crafts. There are numerous craft projects out there with patriotic themes that honor our country.
  • Embrace red, white, and blue. Wear red, white, and blue and eat red, white, and blue foods throughout the unit.
  • Country location. Locate the United States on a globe. Students may also enjoy exploring the location of the United States through an online map program such as Google Maps.


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    Post Comment
    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's so much fun to have a beach classroom for an ocean unit!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      6 years ago from Western NC

      Your ideas reminded me of a first grade teacher I work with: she's changed her classroom into a "beach room" while they study ocean animals. I'm even teaching about ocean animals in Spanish. :)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      7 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, AMFredenburg! I really appreciate that.

    • AMFredenburg profile image

      Aldene Fredenburg 

      7 years ago from Southwestern New Hampshire

      Wonderful; voted up, pinned and shared. Thanks for all your expertise!


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