Escape Summer Slump with the 4 Cs

Share this list with your students' parents to keep kids learning all summer long!

June 03, 2016
Darri Stephens Senior Director, Education Content
Common Sense Education

CATEGORIES Parents and Families, Students, Tools

The year is drawing to a close, state testing is over, and teachers are packing up their rooms. And while students are getting excited about their summer freedom, some parents and teachers might be worried about kids forgetting all they've learned during the school year.

This loss of academic skills over the summer months is what teachers refer to as "summer slide." Some studies have shown kids can lose nearly two months of grade-level equivalency in reading and math over the summer break. Think about it: The brain is a muscle, and if you don't use it, you can lose it! 

But remember, though kids are taking a break from school, they can still keep learning. One way is for them to be enriched by pursuing activities that promote the 4 Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. Media and technology can help kids build these skills, and summer is a great time for this kind of exploration.

We've put together a great list of apps, games, and websites that help kids build the 4 Cs, perfect for undercover summer learning. Share this list with your students' parents so they can beat the summer slide!  


Help kids express their opinions and emotions and connect with others with tools for video talks, podcasts, and storytelling.

TED/TED-Ed: Easily find, download, and view inspiring talks on a variety of topics 

Youth Radio: A stellar take on the news from diverse kid journalists

Shadow Puppet Edu: Resource-rich video slide show creator a gem for elementary classrooms

Toontastic: Writer, actor, director: Kids play all parts in riveting storytelling tool



Kids can work together and take on the role of producer as they make multimedia productions.

Explain Everything: Powerhouse tool for creating stellar multimedia presentations

Educreations: Enliven lessons and presentations with easy-to-use tool

VoiceThread: Easily collaborate and create with voice, video, or image

Wikispaces: Powerful tool for creating collaborative websites 



Give kids the space to use their devices to become artists, musicians, or designers.

Paper by FiftyThree: Beautifully designed digital sketchbook for any age

Canva: Create snazzy designs in seconds with flexible, cloud-based tool

GarageBand: Amazingly powerful music workstation unleashes the musician in us all

DIY/Instructables: DIY communities empower kids to design, build, and share new things offline and online


Critical Thinking

Encourage strategy, ingenuity, and sharing of ideas with open-ended digital-creation tools.

Tinkercad: Amazingly simple yet powerful and flexible online CAD tool 

MIT App Inventor: Fun programming site gets kids to build their own mobile apps

Scratch: Jump-start future programmers with adaptive sandbox tool

Minecraft: Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep


For more on summer slump, check out our recent segment on San Francisco's KTVU: