How to Make Summer Learning Programs Fun and Engaging

by Julia McDonald on 02 Mar, 2022

Summer is right around the corner and now is the perfect time to start considering how to engage students in a summer learning program that is not only useful but something students actually want to do during their vacation! 


TL;DR Summary

We know your time is valuable, so here’s a summary of some key points explaining how you can make summer learning programs a success.

  • Make the most of online resources via a gamified learning platform. Extrinsic motivation can go a long way in the summer months.
  • Create short, self-directed learning activities that teach students about subjects relevant to their own lives. Quick + self-guided + relevant = intrinsic motivation
  • Accelerate learning with custom online modules which can be developed in just a couple of weeks!
  • Learn how to meet the ESSER funding requirements.


Creating a summer learning program can help to address learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic but, as always, the challenge to engage students in their learning persists. So, we’ve pulled together some ways you can engage students and accelerate their learning (inside and outside the classroom). With the right approach, you can motivate and engage your students in their studies so that they can overcome the academic challenges of the past two years. Read on to discover 5 keys to making summer learning programs fun and engaging.


1. Use mobile-friendly online content

The first step to getting students engaged in learning is ensuring they can connect to the material. The easiest way to bring the material to your students outside of the classroom is to use online content. Not only is it efficient and accessible, but it allows you to take advantage of free resources that are already available. Students are walking around every day with internet access in their pockets, which means they can access your course material at any time. This can be a positive alternative to accessing primarily social media apps on their phone. 




Plus, there are tons of reputable resources already out there that your summer program can use. Linking YouTube videos, government, or other district-approved resources limits the work you need to put in to get your program off the ground and helps to familiarize students with these resources. Not to mention videos help to keep students engaged!



2. Make it relevant

This is particularly key when asking students to trade in their summer vacation. When it comes to selecting or creating material, ensure that students can easily see how it relates to them and why it’s important. This might look like delivering a financial literacy course that teaches students how to manage the money they're earning from their summer job (here are some fun ideas). Or maybe it looks like showing students how the knowledge and skills they’re developing now will be necessary for all kinds of careers. Making these connections for students will help increase their intrinsic motivation for participating in your summer learning program. 



3. Use gamification 


Why stop at intrinsic motivation? With gamification, it's easy to extrinsically motivate your students too! Using a gamified platform for learning activities allows students to be motivated by seeing their progress, but especially by earning points. It also has the added bonus of being interactive. By turning schoolwork into school play, we can increase student engagement.



ChatterHigh enables students to earn points while they learn. The points students earn can be used to enter draw prizes or donated to charity! Learn more here.



4. Break it down into bite-size pieces

The idea of summer learning may seem daunting to some students, especially those who are already feeling overwhelmed by all the class time they’ve missed these past couple of years. That’s where dividing the material into bite-sized chunks comes into play. Whereas covering an entire subject or unit can feel intimidating, completing a 15- to 30-minute learning activity seems doable. By dividing the material into smaller sections, you can not only alleviate student stress but also further increase engagement. That’s because students will feel a sense of accomplishment from having completed an activity or session. Hello, intrinsic motivation!



5. Make it self-directed

Depending on the age of your students, you’ll want to give them more or less autonomy. However, one way to encourage students to participate in summer learning is to let them have some choice. This helps engage students who are overwhelmed or simply uninterested. The overwhelmed student can ease themself into summer learning by picking a unit they’re more comfortable with, while the uninterested student can choose a unit that sparks their curiosity. Not only that, but it allows students to fit it into their summer schedule more easily. (Not to mention giving students autonomy is also tied to improved intrinsic motivation.)



ChatterHigh’s Proven Gamified Approach

ChatterHigh’s proven ‘research and learn’ approach allows students to engage with material in a fun, interactive, and accessible way. By guiding students through reputable resources, ChatterHigh questions help students gain knowledge and discover great tools they can refer back to in the future. Here’s how it works.




When it comes to content, anything that lives online or can be hosted online can be used. Have great digital district resources you want your students to familiarize themselves with? Want to take advantage of fantastic, free government resources? Interested in engaging students through video tutorials? ChatterHigh is compatible with all kinds of tools and websites. Through consultation and collaboration, we’ll work with you to design an interactive learning experience where students explore the resources you trust the most.


Here are just a few examples of what customized district modules can do for you and your students.

Math and English





Social-Emotional Learning and Mental Health and Wellness




Want to see how ChatterHigh is already being used to accelerate learning? Click here to check out how Florida State University schools used ChatterHigh to meet a summer school reading requirement as well as launch a mental health initiative.

>> Learn how ChatterHigh meets ESSER funding requirements or talk to an expert <<





Summer break is a great time to accelerate learning. The key is simply finding ways to make summer learning programs engaging and accessible for students. By using an online, gamified platform, you can promote both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in your students so that they’re excited to discover learning opportunities and activities throughout the break. 

Ready to optimize online resources and student engagement? Connect with us today. We can’t wait to set your students up for summer learning success.

Back to Blog