Lab Logo with shining sun and summer 2020 text

Summer Programs

As is the foundation of The Lab School, creativity was the name of the game this summer during our virtual Summer Programs.

Of course, we were very sorry to miss seeing your children in person, but we had some wonderful offerings from our teachers, reading specialists, speech and language clinicians, occupational therapists, psychologists and social workers.
During the eight weeks of school this spring when the school pivoted to remote learning due to the quarantine, we found that, despite our frustrations and feelings of collective loss, we, as a community, discovered opportunities to learn truths—about ourselves, our minds, and our work—that might have otherwise remained hidden. Using what we learned that worked and making changes to our programming to reflect exciting, digital-specific updates, we brought Lab’s expanding treasure chest of best practices to our Summer Programs.  

Below are short descriptions of our 2020 programs.


For ages 8–12, students met in the virtual art studio, using collaborative tools to create books, short movies, and comic books, while practicing the critical elements of effective storytelling. A balance of individual and small-group live, online instruction was offered daily.

Using online video and art platforms, students developed narrative language skills and brought that language to life in virtual studios that allowed for creation of books, short movies, and comics. Using a combination of individual and small groups in live online sessions, students learned tools for planning a complete, well-organized narrative. A variety of methods and materials including Mindwing Concepts Story Grammar Marker® and Six Second Stories® were introduced. Students:

  • learned the critical components of a narrative.

  • identified key information from stories and developed succinct summaries.

  • improved the ability to share personal experiences in a concise, organized fashion.

  • explored technology such as Make-A-Movie, Storyjumper, Pixton, and others to showcase narrative skills in creative, online modalities.

For ages 8+ in groups of 2–4, students showcased their new writing skills and strategies via a blog, giving many opportunities for practice and a strong motivator to create sophisticated and interesting written products! A balance of individual and small-group live, online instruction was offered daily.

Through live, online individual and small-group instruction, students developed tools to prepare for writing in a variety of academic contexts. Specific instruction using programs such as The Writing Revolution ® gave students practice planning, organizing, drafting, and revising.  Students learned with a toolkit to tackle future writing assignments!  Students:

  • increased executive functioning skills for planning and organizing the writing process.

  • enhanced sophistication of sentence structure, word choice, and writing style. 

  • explored assistive technology tools to support individual needs, such as: Co:Writer®, word prediction, speech-to-text, and text-to-speech.

For ages 5 and above, students were offered a wealth of tools and strategies to make reading and spelling instruction come alive in the digital world! A balance of individual and small-group live, online instruction For  daily.

Instruction was highly individualized and systematically targeted development of reading and spelling skills. A variety of research-based reading and spelling resources based on the Orton-Gillingham approach were utilized, specific to the needs of each child. 

Daily sessions included:

  • individual and small-group live, online instruction, tailored to student-specific needs.

  • computer-based applications and self-guided activities for further practice with phonological, decoding and encoding skills after direct instruction is completed

Instructional goals included:

  • Developing pre- and early-literacy skills.

  • Increasing phonemic awareness skills including rhyming, blending, segmenting, and sound manipulation.

  • Improving knowledge of alphabetic code for reading and spelling skills.

  • Developing syllabification skills and morphological awareness to enhance reading and spelling (e.g., recognition of prefixes, suffixes, roots).

  • Enhancing reading accuracy and fluency for comprehension.

For ages 8–12 in small groups, students met in the virtual “detective lab," using a range of engaging digital tools to work together to solve mysteries, all while honing their inferential and  reasoning skills. A balance of individual and small-group live, online instruction was offered daily.

Through a combination of individual and small-group live, online instruction and acting as detectives, putting their sleuthing skills to work, students honed their language comprehension skills while solving mysteries and “crimes.” During engaging mystery activities, students worked collaboratively to gain experience deriving deeper meaning from information provided in order to draw reasonable conclusions. Students:

  • extracted, analyzed, and synthesized facts.

  • identified and summarized key information.

  • developed observation, inference, and prediction skills.

  • practiced deductive reasoning skills.

  • cited textual and/or observational evidence that supported analysis and conclusions.

Summer is a great time for speech, language and literacy practice - even in the digital learning world! This program was for ages 6+.

Tele-Therapy sessions ran between 30-60 minutes in length, depending on the cognitive-linguistic profile of each student. Services were always tailored to the specific needs of each child. Targets included:

  • vocabulary and concept knowledge

  • grammar/syntax

  • listening and reading comprehension

  • language formulation and organization

  • social pragmatics

  • problem solving

  • phonological awareness, reading, and spelling

  • written expression

  • voice, fluency, and articulation

Tele-therapy services were conducted with interactive audio and video connection in real time to create an individual, in-person experience similar to that achieved in a traditional encounter. These services required an internet connection and access to a microphone/camera through your computer, tablet, or smartphone.

For ages 3-6, services consisted of a five-day therapeutic program, with three, individual 30-minutes sessions per week and two 30-minute small group sessions per week to practice applying target skills with peers. A parent forum was also facilitated each week to discuss language targets and application in the home. All early childhood students were provided with a suggested list of home activities to reinforce skills.

Rising 9th - 12th grade students were guided through their assigned summer reading book with a specific focus on reading comprehension techniques, executive functioning strategies, and independent learning and self-advocacy skills.  

Two times per week, Speech-Language Pathologists: 

  • assigned reading sections.

  • posted an assignment that focused on factual comprehension, higher-level comprehension (e.g., inferences or predictions), or connections to self, the world, and other texts.

  • scheduled online “hangout” sessions for video conferencing and collaborative book discussions.

  • provided individualized feedback and support on all assignments.

Occupational Therapy Program Offerings:

Handwriting, keyboarding, puzzles, mazes, projects. Students ages 8+, joined the team of occupational therapists to work on fine motor skills and improve handwriting, keyboarding, and use of tools. Each day included activities to improve visual motor integration. Using fun tasks and drills, therapists developed a progression of just-right challenges within a developmental framework to build the necessary skills needed for written communication such as handwriting and keyboarding. They also presented visual-spatial tasks including puzzles, mazes, and reading charts and graphs.

This group included:

  • individualized handwriting instruction.

  • individualized keyboarding instruction.

  • assignment of online keyboarding account for at-home practice.

  • exploration and functional use of various academic tools: rulers, yardsticks, measuring cups, compasses, protractors, hole punches, etc.

Led by occupational therapists and a speech language pathologist, this four-week group targeted fine motor and handwriting skills, gross motor skills, sensory regulation, social pragmatics, and more for students age4-7. Students received 60 minutes of life tele-therapy per day in a 2 to 1 or 3 to 1 ratio. Various related activities were emailed throughout the week as well. Each week offered a live parent Q&A with therapists, and an end of summer report following the four weeks.

For children enrolled in the online lower school program, rising grades 2-6, individual therapy sessions were available, 45 minutes in length, highly individualized, and targeting skills such as:

  • Handwriting

  • Keyboarding

  • Gross motor skills

  • Fine motor skills

  • Visual motor integration

  • Visual perceptual skills

  • Ocular motor skills

  • Sensory integration

  • Executive functioning

Psychological Services Program Offerings:

For rising 5th - rising 7th grade girl students, this group was designed to promote social skills and help students to verbalize their feelings. Group activities promoted communication and self-advocacy skills, and help to decrease social isolation during this time. The group included game play as a way of promoting peer relationships and bonding.

For rising 8th - rising 12th grade students, participants built pro-social skills to use beyond the worlds of social media and gaming. By exposing participants to other topics of conversation outside of gaming and social media, they increased their ability to engage in conversations with friends and peers in real time.

For rising 3rd - rising 6th grade students, this skill-building group provided a supportive environment to help students identify and express difficult feelings, with an emphasis on anxiety. Group members developed an understanding of anxiety, learned about the sources of anxiety, as well as built coping skills to build resilience during this pandemic. 

After a spring of distance learning and social distancing, the group of  rising 5th - rising 7th grade students focused on refreshing and strengthening social skills necessary in everyday social interactions and developing and maintaining peer friendships. The eight-session group introduced and worked with a discrete social skill each session; such as meeting and greeting, active listening and attention, perspective taking, building and/or maintaining social connections, and covered challenges with virtual and in person interactions. Additionally, the group included practice/homework after each session, and weekly parent follow-up.

This group allowed rising 5th - rising 7th grade students an opportunity to come together and discuss the impact and emotional toll of the quarantine, including symptoms of anxiety and depression. The group provided a positive and supportive environment for students. Group members also brainstormed and explored strategies to support mood symptoms and resilience.  


This group provided a safe space for a group of rising 8th - rising 9th grade students to explore the many ways that this quarantine has impacted their lives. Focus was on identifying difficult emotions, including anxiety and depression, and providing positive coping strategies that students can practice at home, as well as maintaining social connections.The group used games and other activities to engage and raise the spirits of the group members.

This group provided members, rising 7th - rising 9th grade students, with a safe, inviting, and fun space to develop the introspective skills needed to choose healthy habits that will lead to a summer that is both enjoyable and meaningful. Students spent time identifying personal goals in the areas of physical health, emotional health, and relational health with family and friends, and learned different self-management strategies to support the practice of healthy habits throughout the summer and into the next school year. Games, group discussions, and student-designed and -facilitated activities were used in sessions.


This wellness group for rising 7th - rising 12th grade students built on the connection between exercise and mental health. Group participants set individual goals during weekly virtual 'check-in' meetings, and then came together in a weekly virtual group meeting to review progress on individual and group goals. The group sessions focused on breaking down obstacles to exercise and healthy life-style choices, strengthening motivation, and building sustainable routines. 
Group members utilized wearable technology (either free apps, or other devices) to track progress on goals and allow for feedback from group leaders. The individualized exercise goals were formed around a minimum of 30 minutes per day for five days per week and included a range of activities; such as running, biking, yoga, swimming, basketball, etc. The specific exercise(s) depended on the personal interest and motivation of the participant. All activity built toward the community-group goal as well as individual goal. Long-term goals varied, and included running or walking a 5K or 10K, completing a specific yoga routine, biking a specific distance, or swimming a specific number of laps.

Lower School Program Offerings:

Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 2nd – rising 6th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Students engaged in daily, 45-minute one-on-one literacy instruction with an Orton-Gillingham trained tutor. These focused individualized lessons targeted phonemic awareness, decoding, spelling, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies and provided the intensity and depth critical for emerging and developing readers.


Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 2nd – rising 6th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Number Investigators
Students tackled a variety of math applications daily during 45-minute, small group (4 students) sessions. Topics included number sense, measurement, estimation, graphing, and algebraic equations. Daily challenges and word problems reinforced skills learned as students investigated the wide world of numbers and learned that everyone can do math!


Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 2nd – rising 6th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Academic Clubs
Our signature Academic Clubs immersed students in the themed learning environment of Mysteries of the World. During each 45-minute session, students received expert guidance to create projects, learn specific content, build language, and enhance critical thinking through a variety of art forms. Club was available for students to join daily or drop-in throughout the week based on what worked best for them.


Middle School Program Offerings:

Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 7th – rising 9th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Reading classes of no more than four students focused on a mix of decoding and comprehension through Orton-Gillingham-inspired methods. Students applied skills through a variety of materials. In addition to identification of setting, characters, and plot, students built their inferencing skills and learned to read between the lines as they backed their claims with evidence. 


Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 7th – rising 9th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Classes learned how to set up and solve authentic math problems, giving ample opportunities to practice calculation skills. The goal was to engage students in more real-life experiential learning to build their confidence in mathematical abilities. Topics included number patterns, measurement, estimation, graphing, and algebraic equations. Math groups were no more than four students.


Due to the pandemic and the need for virtual rather than in-person attendance, the Lower School Programs, for rising 7th – rising 9th graders, were offered only to current Lab students and new-to-Lab students.

Writing classes built on the material learned from the reading classes and taught students to incorporate textual evidence into paragraphs as students worked to craft their arguments. Classes focused on the writing process of brainstorming, outlining, drafting, and revising to create a polished final product. Writing classes also veered into short genre studies to inform more creative writing, like short personal narratives. Students practiced the same writing process with more concrete content within an area of expertise: themselves!  Classes were limited to groups of four and five.