Often, at the start of the summer holidays, we send children home with small set tasks, worksheets or optional homework to provide them with learning opportunities over the break.

But after a disrupted school year, perhaps we need to have a rethink about how we approach this. On the one hand, we have parents who feel more prepared than ever to lead the learning at home after taking on this role for remote learning.

However, just as we have those feeling ready for the challenge, there will be many parents who are feeling fatigued by it all. These parents will not be excited by the thought of their children being set more work.

So, how can we balance the needs of both of these groups? One way is to set learning as games and activities this summer, where, rather than doing “work”, children are learning through play.

This will also be hugely beneficial to children who need an opportunity to “catch up” on missed play owing to the pandemic. Here are four of my favourite games you could set over the summer holidays to help your class learn through play this summer:

1. Toy parachutes

Set this fantastic, fun, science-based task for children over the summer – wonderful for developing creativity and scientific enquiry skills.

Using household items (such as paper, string and Clingfilm), children have to design and make their very own parachutes for a toy of their choice, then drop them (with supervision) from a small height and see how long they take to fall.

2. Garden hoopla

Children can enjoy making their hoop by cutting out the centre of a paper plate and then decorating it.

The children then need to pop plastic cups on the lawn and try to throw their hoops over them. This activity is fantastic for hand-eye coordination, concentration and gross motor skills. It’s also a low intensity, low-cost and high time-occupying activity that parents should appreciate.

3. Ice-cube races

This exciting Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) activity can help develop team-building and creative-thinking skills through play.

First, ask children to design and create a “track” for their ice cubes using aluminium foil. They then need to make their ice-cube “boats” by freezing water in an ice-cube tray (or freezer bag) and putting a lollipop stick, or similar, in the top.

Once frozen, take them out and attach some paper to the stick to make a sail. They can then have fun racing their ice boats down their foil track until they melt. After that, they can try it all over again

4. Postbox fun

Why not set your class the task of creating their own postbox this summer?

All they need is to start by painting a cardboard box red and cutting out a slot for the letters to fit through. If appropriate for your context, this can always be partly started in class before you break for the summer.

Once in place, the postbox will provide a wonderful imaginative play resource for children to create their own role-play games – and perhaps most importantly,  supply endless literacy opportunities over the holidays as they use it to write and post pretend letters, cards and postcards.

Georgina Durrant is a former teacher and Senco, founder of The SEN Resources Blog and author of 100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play