Summer Themes for Preschool

Summer pool with purple dinosaur floatie

Summer is a great time for fun, exploration and learning, especially in preschool settings. Here we'll dive into the importance of incorporating summer preschool themes into your curriculum and how to choose the right preschool summer theme and activity ideas for your classroom. In the process, you'll discover the benefits of using summer themes, such as engaging children's imagination and creativity, promoting hands-on preschool learning and encouraging physical activity, along with practical tips on how to implement them into your daily lessons.

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Table of Contents



Why Summer Themes Are Important for Preschool

Two preschool kids at the beach in swim clothes

Engaging with seasonal themes like summer not only captivates children's imagination but also provides a platform for experiential learning. The benefits of learning based on themes during the summer months include:

  • Summer themes spark curiosity: Use vibrant colors, natural elements and outdoor exploration to excite preschoolers about learning. (National Institutes of Health)
  • Deeper understanding through play: Summer-themed projects and group activities help children grasp the world around them. (Frontiers in Education)
  • Social skills and teamwork bloom: Collaborative summer activities promote social skills and teamwork among preschoolers. (Journal of Early Childhood Education Research)
  • Real-world connection and inquiry: Connecting lessons to experiences throughout the summer encourages question-asking, discovery and critical thinking. (ERIC)
  • Meaningful engagement and creativity: Summer themes in the classroom boost creativity and keep preschoolers engaged in their learning through many fun activities. (National Library of Medicine)


How to Choose the Right Summer Theme for Your Preschool

Illustration of a preschool on a nice summer day

Here are four factors to consider for your summer preschool lesson plans and some quick preschool theme ideas for hot summer days.

1. Engages Children's Imagination and Creativity

Seasonal themes should create a vibrant atmosphere that appeals to young minds, encouraging them to explore, create and learn in fun ways. Through imaginative play based on summer activities like beach adventures, camping trips or wildlife explorations, children immerse themselves in enriching experiences that help them develop crucial skills.

Hands-on crafts and projects related to summer themes enhance their motor skills and artistic expression, fostering a love for learning through creativity. Furthermore, exploratory learning in natural outdoor environments during the sunny season inspires curiosity and a deeper connection to the world around them. 

May popular activities for kids that are easy for preschool teachers to pull off are lessons about the sun. This craft is an easy and fun way to kick off a conversation about our most important star. 



2. Promotes Hands-On Learning and Exploration

The best summer preschool themes should encourage hands-on learning and exploration, allowing preschoolers to engage with the environment and concepts in a tangible way. They might plant seeds, conduct simple science experiments or go on nature scavenger hunts, fostering a love for learning about nature early on.

This approach not only sparks curiosity but also fosters a deeper understanding of various subjects through sensory activities such as digging in sand tables, observing insect habitats and feeling different textures. Children get to build their knowledge base while having fun exploring these summer activities for your kids, and there are plenty of free preschool activities and resources to help.

3. Encourages Physical Activity and Outdoor Play

Summer themes should promote physical activity and outdoor play among preschoolers, fostering healthy and active lifestyles while enhancing their connection with nature.

Summer is the perfect time to engage in outdoor activities because it's a great time to explore. It stimulates children's physical development and improves their mental well-being. Outdoor exploration encourages kids to use their imaginations, problem-solving skills and creativity while immersed in the wonders of nature. Whether it's running around in the park, splashing in a pool or going on a nature scavenger hunt, these activities contribute to children's overall growth and happiness.

4. Introduces New Concepts and Vocabulary

Summer themes should introduce preschoolers to new concepts and vocabulary, expanding their knowledge base and promoting language development through thematic exploration.

By immersing children in themes like nature, outdoor activities and vacations, summer provides a rich backdrop for learning and discovery. For example, the concept of the beach helps kids to build their word skills, as they explore "seashells," "sandcastles" and "sunscreen" to broaden their vocabulary. As they engage in activities related to these themes, such as building a sandcastle or collecting seashells, they grasp the meaning of these words in a hands-on way.


What Are Some Popular Summer Themes for Preschool?

Preschooler at the beach playing in the water

Popular summer and fun themes for preschool include ocean and beach adventures, camping and nature exploration, insects and bugs discovery, Summer Olympics-inspired activities and farm life experiences. Each of these preschool themes and activities are built around engaging kids, allowing them to put their energy to use and discovering the world around them through active learning activities while enjoying fine summer weather.

Ocean and Beach

Engage preschoolers in ocean and beach themes to explore the beach and its marine life, sandy shores and seaside adventures through hands-on activities, imaginative play and water fun.

  • Beach-themed learning projects: Build sandcastles, collect seashells and create ocean crafts (jellyfish windsocks, paper plate sea turtles).
  • Ocean creature introductions: Provide storytime sessions and sensory bins filled with sea-themed toys to learn about colorful fish, playful dolphins, majestic whales and curious octopuses.
  • Beach exploration: Organize nature walks to spot seagulls, crabs and sandpipers.

Camping and Nature

Immerse preschoolers in camping and nature themes to discover the wonders of the great outdoors, wildlife encounters and other adventures through nature walks and camping simulations.

  • Engage in activities like scavenger hunts to look for natural treasures, bird watching and learning about different plant and animal species to provide an enriching experience for young minds.
  • Build forts out of branches and leaves, identify animal tracks and listen to the sounds of the forest to spark curiosity and foster a deep connection with nature.

Insects and Bugs

Engage preschoolers in the fascinating world of insects and bugs, fostering curiosity, scientific exploration and bug-themed activities that promote learning and discovery. You can even use fun printables to help them grasp concepts and make connections.

  • Observe nature: Watch ant colonies or butterfly life cycles.
  • Science projects: Plan fun and informative activities about bugs.
  • Interactive activities: Make bug crafts or go on an insect hunt.
  • Engaging learning: Combine fun with scientific discovery.

Summer Olympics

Introduce preschoolers to the spirit of the Summer Olympics through sports-themed activities, games and teamwork challenges that promote physical fitness, coordination and sportsmanship.

  • Track races: Get those little legs pumping with short sprints or fun relays.
  • Imaginary javelin throws: Unleash their inner Olympians with creative throws (using pool noodles or beanbags).
  • Mini basketball shootouts: Time to swish some hoops! Let them hone their aiming skills.
  • Relay races: Teamwork makes the dream work! Encourage collaboration and cheering each other on.
  • Obstacle course: Challenge their agility with a course inspired by gymnastics, hurdles and swimming (adapted for safety).
  • Mini medals and ribbons: Celebrate their efforts! Award mini medals or ribbons to create a sense of accomplishment.

Farm Life

Immerse preschoolers in the charm of farm life themes, exploring animal habitats, gardening activities and farm-to-table experiences that foster appreciation for nature and agriculture. Engaging in hands-on animal care, children can learn the importance of responsibility and compassion toward living creatures.

  • Planting seeds and watering plants: Kids learn about the process of growing food and feel proud of their contributions.
  • Choosing what to plant: Kids get to pick what fruits or vegetables they want to enjoy later.
  • Picking produce: Kids connect the plants they care for to the food they eat.


How to Implement Summer Themes in Your Preschool Curriculum

Integrating summer themes into your preschool curriculum involves incorporating themed activities, decorating the classroom, planning field trips and engaging parents and families in themed projects and concepts. Here are a few ideas on how to use weekly themes in unit studies.  

1. Incorporate Themed Activities in Daily Lessons

Enhance daily lessons by integrating themed activities related to summer themes, ensuring engagement, hands-on learning and thematic continuity in the preschool curriculum. A Sand and Sun Science Exploration is one example of an exciting summer-themed activity, allowing children to engage with natural elements like sand and water while learning about flotation, sinking and the properties of these materials.

2. Decorate the Classroom with Summer Theme

Animated Image of Preschoolers at the Beach in Summer

Transform your classroom into a vibrant summer oasis by decorating it with thematic elements, creating an immersive learning environment that sparks children's imagination and curiosity.

Use bright, sun-soaked colors like cheerful yellows, vibrant blues and warm oranges to evoke the spirit of summer. Incorporate beach-inspired accents such as seashells, sandcastles and palm trees to bring the outdoors inside. Hang colorful paper lanterns or whimsical flip-flop garlands from the ceiling to add a playful touch. Create a reading nook with beach towels, floor cushions and a mini beach umbrella for a cozy retreat. Punctuate the space with educational posters featuring marine life, tropical fruits and summer activities to blend knowledge with aesthetics.

3. Plan Field Trips Related to the Theme

Enrich the preschool experience by organizing field trips that align with summer themes, providing hands-on learning opportunities and real-world connections to thematic concepts. 

  • Explore the wonders of nature: Visit a local botanical garden where kids can see a variety of plants and flowers, learning firsthand about the natural world.
  • Become a scientist for a day: Head to a science museum where children can interact with exhibits and conduct fun experiments.
  • Travel through time: Explore a historical site or cultural museum to learn about different traditions and civilizations, gaining a deeper understanding of the past.


Where to Find Resources for Summer Themes in Preschool

Parents and teachers alike can discover resources for summer themes in preschool through online educational platforms, teacher resource books, local libraries, community centers and collaboration with other educators.

Free Online Educational Platforms

Finding free summer materials to help each preschooler in your class maximize their learning potential can be hard. That's why our sleuths gathered some of the best sources.

PBS LearningMedia 

Explore a wide range of engaging summer activities tailored for children in pre-K to kindergarten with PBS LearningMedia. From interactive games to educational videos, this resource offers a plethora of fun-filled learning experiences to keep young minds active during the summer break. Discover exciting adventures, creative crafts and interactive lessons that promote exploration and discovery in the summer sun.


Embark on outdoor adventures with Scholastic Parents' curated collection of activities designed for children aged 3-5. Delight in nature-inspired crafts, outdoor games and hands-on learning experiences that foster creativity and curiosity. From scavenger hunts to gardening projects, these activities encourage children to connect with the natural world while developing essential skills in a fun and engaging way.

Unlock a world of educational resources for children of all ages with From printable worksheets to interactive games and lesson plans, this comprehensive platform offers a wealth of learning opportunities across various subjects and grade levels, including pre-K. Whether you're seeking supplemental activities for summer learning or year-round enrichment, provides tailored resources to support children's academic growth and development. All you need to do to access its materials is sign up for a free account.

Collaborative Channels and Platforms for Preschool Teachers

These tools are perfect for summer learning activities. You can access advice and materials to help you get started on your summer lesson plans for preschoolers. 

Teachers Pay Teachers

What if there was a place where teachers of all grade levels got together and shared their best materials? Teachers Pay Teachers is such a place. The site has a lot of free materials shared by preschool teachers. You can also enjoy more materials by purchasing them at a low price. The proceeds go to help individuals like you continue to improve instruction. Here are a few free summer activities for kids to get you started.

ECEP Professional Forum

Sometimes it helps to have a place to go and bounce ideas off others. The ECEP Professional Forum on Reddit is an excellent place to get ideas when summer arrives or in any other situation. 



Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular summer themes for preschool classrooms?

Some popular summer themes for preschool classrooms include beach and ocean, camping, fruits and vegetables, insects and under the sea. All these great themes include ideas that are simple to execute, safe for kids and offer fun, engaging activities and decorations that kids and teachers love.

How can I incorporate a beach and ocean theme into my preschool curriculum?

You can incorporate a beach and ocean theme into your preschool curriculum by reading books about the beach and ocean, creating ocean-themed art projects and incorporating ocean animal toys and props into sensory play activities.

What are some fun activities for a camping theme in a preschool classroom?

Some fun activities for a camping theme in a preschool classroom include making s'mores with playdough, creating a campfire with paper and tissue paper and setting up a pretend camping trip with tents and sleeping bags.

Are there any educational benefits to using summer themes in preschool?

Yes, using summer themes in preschool can help children learn about the world around them, explore new concepts and develop important skills such as creativity and problem-solving. These themes help deliver a fun summer of learning for kids and best of all, summer fun can be a great teacher!

How can I integrate summer themes into different areas of the preschool curriculum?

You can integrate summer themes into different areas of the preschool curriculum by incorporating themed books and activities into literacy and language lessons, using themed objects and toys for summer math and science activities and incorporating themed songs and movement activities into music and movement lessons.

Get 100+ Editable and Printable Templates for Almost Every Preschool Situation

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We know preschools like yours are busy. That's why we made dozens of templates to help you manage the various aspects of your organization. With billing and invoicing, activity templates, forms and even marketing materials, we have it all. Download all 100 today!



National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety, editors. Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US), 2019.

Frontiers in Education Editorial Office. "Learning Through Play at School – A Framework for Policy and Practice CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS." Frontiers in Education, vol. 7, 17 Feb. 2022, sec. Teacher Education Volume 7 - 2022, doi:10.3389/feduc.2022.751801.

Smith, A. B., & Jones, C. D. (2023). Teamwork as a cornerstone of a child’s educational support in early childhood education and care. Journal of Early Childhood Education Research, 12(2), 158–178. doi:10.58955/jecer.121462

Jirout, Jamie and David Klahr. "Children’s Question Asking and Curiosity: A Training Study." [2017].

Flores, M. A., et al. (2023). Promoting creativity in early childhood education. PLoS One, 18(12), e0294915. [invalid URL removed]. PMID: 38055715, PMCID: PMC10699610.

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