It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Summer! Listen, I LOVE the idea of no homework, throwing the schedule out the door and storing up loads of memories over the next three months. But I also need to be honest. Summer can be challenging. Active children with a ton of energy and pretty much nothing on the agenda can make for some very long days. So I thought it would be fun to start brainstorming some ideas we can all do with the kids this summer. I realize that geographically, different things are going to be available but I am planning to kick off our list with 10 summer activities for children and would invite you to add to it in our comment section.
Summer Journal. It’s easy to lose those writing skills over the summer but to keep it fun let the kids write their own story of summer. Teaching supply stores often carry journals that allow children to write a paragraph and draw a picture on each page. You can adjust this according to age. If your children are very little, have them draw a picture of what they did that day and dictate a sentence about it to you. It’s a fun keepsake at the end of the summer.
Pajama day. Listen! My daughter would stay in pajamas all day every day if she could. Thinking about making one day out of the week a pajama day where we lounge and stay home. Everyone stays in jammies and we let lazy takeover. It’s good for the soul.
Exercise scavenger hunt. Even if my kiddos aren’t in an organized sport during summer I like to keep them active. Do you remember the Egg Hunt idea I posted about for Easter? I am thinking of amending that and creating something similar. I can still use the eggs and insert an activity in each one.
Evening hikes. We like to get out and walk and after dinner is always a nice time for this. Again it’s a way to keep everyone moving and to get some fresh air. It’s also a way to talk with your children without any screen time! Old fashioned conversation.
Lemonade stand. An idea as old as time but I really do see so much value in this. My kids begged all summer last year and for some reason it just never happened. This summer it’s happening. But listen up, moms! You drag this out! You put a date on the calendar maybe 3-4 days out (depending on age of your kiddos). They plot, they plan and they work on things for this lemonade stand for a few days. Maybe one day they come up with a name for their business and create a sign. Maybe the next day they plan out exactly what they need and the grocery shopping happens. You see where I am going with this. Make it an event that really takes planning and execution. It will be that much more fun for them and it’s something to work on each day.
Service work. We all know those dreaded words we are bound to hear at least once. “I’m bored!” Perfect! Nothing to do, let’s put those talents of yours to work for others. As a family we plan to work on coming up with a service project we can do together. Maybe it’s cleaning out closets and donating. Maybe it’s packs of socks, first aid kits, protein bars and waters for the homeless. Whatever it is, I like the idea of turning the focus away from their own needs.
Inflatable pool. That’s right! An inflatable pool. This is for those of us that are not blessed with our own pool. Even if you have a community pool, there is something about a body of water in our own yard that can be hours of fun. Our last home had only a small patio, but we still had a water table for the kids. We recently bought an inflatable 8′ pool from Costco for $30. Best money I’ve spent in a long time. My kids have already been spending hours in this thing. And yes, they are big for a blow up pool but they use their imaginations. You give a kid some water and some freedom and it’s a life saver for those days you need some relief from being supermom.
Slumber party. Have a tent? No tent, no problem. Make a fort. I have such fond memories of making a fort with dear friends of ours and sleeping in them. You can pretend you are camping. Kids love anything that is out of the norm, am I right? It’s just enough of an activity to keep the excitement going but it won’t break the bank or be too much trouble.
Kids make dinner. My son would serve up mini pancakes! Let the kids plan everything. If they are young, help them learn how this process works. Great teachable moment about balanced meals and how to write a grocery list. Everyone gets a job and can help put dinner on the table. Anytime we do this the kids LOVE it. Thinking about assigning one night a week this summer to the kids. Wish me luck. . . I can’t eat mini pancakes all the time!
Lights, camera, action! While screen time is not our favorite over here I am all about the iMovie and the trailers. Have you used those? My kids LOVE making these trailers and they will work on one all day long. They choose music, take video, create captions and edit. It’s awesome. These have actually become some of our favorite keepsakes. They love making them and the finished products are always so awesome because of the way the templates are formatted.
Hopefully this gets you thinking about summer activities. This summer thing snuck up on me and to keep myself from getting short-tempered or cranky, I really do need to put some thought into making it enjoyable for everyone.
I would be so excited if we could add to this list in the comments below. What a great resource for all of us if we keep adding to this. Tell us what you plan to do to keep things smooth sailing this summer.
Christi Duke says
I was involved with Junior Achievement in college and my projects with the kids was creating and implementing a business! It’s like a lemonade stand but with more planning and details!
I just cleaned out my cabinets and found my old popsicle mold I had forgotten about. I plan to try a few home made popsicle recipes from pintrest. Also, we have many free summer concerts in our area, as well as library reading programs! Gonna try crazy dinner, eat whatever you like, or backwards meals, dinner for breakfast, breakfast for dinner! Love your blog, your positivity is so encouraging. Truly look forward to reading each day! Also, love hearing summer meal ideas from you,
Thank you for all you do. Have a great summer!
Love Lori’s idea of the popsicle molds! What a fun blast from the past. Will definitely do that.
Our local library has a wonderful summertime reading program and weekly children’s activities ~ plus it’s free!
Maybe you could make your own Bike Rodeo in your driveway/street and have a little contest with the siblings and neighborhood kiddos.
When my son was very young, each week when he would receive his allowance I would include a coupon ~ the coupons were for things like “trip to the ice cream shoppe”, “evening swim at the community pool”, “stay up 1 hour late”, etc. I think he was more excited about the coupon than the allowance money!
Yay for summertime! Sooo looking forward to it!
Cheryl Keane says
Have you ever heard of an activity called Letterboxing? It is similar to geo-caching but there is no technology involved. It’s like a treasure hunt and nature walk combined. Kids can make their own booklets and rubber stamps to take with them. It’s a great family activity. My twins are 15 now but we started it when they were about 8 and we all loved it. Here is the website: http://www.letterboxing.org. You can look up locations close to where you live.
I love your blog!
Here in Canada we don’t start summer break until July and it runs for 9 weeks. (July and August).
My kids however are in a calendar that is referred to as year round school so they are actually only off in July but have many other breaks throughout the year. Works for us. But let me tell you, it’s STILL hard to fill the month of July so I usually book one week of private swim lessons. Fairly early in the am so it gets us up and out for the day. One week of camp closer to when school will start up again – gets us all back in the routine of getting out the door. The other few weeks we mostly hang out and do some day trips. We do have a pool so there are LOTS of swim dates and pool parties. It’s a stay-cation for the most part. I love the ideas of a journal and giving back. I think the idea is to have a plan to do things and a plan to have your low key “PJ” days.
Love your ideas!
I think I will have my kids (I think they are about your kids’ ages) do that summer journal. I know my older son won’t be interested, but it can be as big or little as you make it. And I think it would be really good for my kids to plan and make dinner one night. Definitely doing that!
To add to your list… We do sprinklers or slip ‘n’ slides, water balloon fights, trips to our local parks (new one each week), garden, backyard Olympics with some of the neighbor kids (think running races, hula hoop contests, etc.), weekly trips to the library (or every other week if they got a chapter book that takes longer).
To expand on your scavenger hunt idea, one day when my husband had our kids and a couple of cousins with no idea what to do, I suggested they do an ABC scavenger hunt all outside. Find something that starts with A – go take a picture with it, Find something that starts with B – go take a picture with it. Continue through the whole alphabet. Rules are you cannot skip letters (can’t do T for truck, for example, if you are just on F) and a picture is required. It takes some creativity to come up with the hard letters like Q or X. Plus, you have a cute keepsake of the adventure with all the photos. A friend of mine suggested this idea to me once, so I can’t take credit for it. What she said they did after that was go on to numbers (find 1 of something, find 2 of something, etc.).
Bryn Mathison says
Such great ideas!! My kids go to year round school, so they only have 4 weeks off in the summer. It goes FAST, which they love. But one of the greatest things we’ve invested in is an outdoor projector (gotta love those SoCal nights!). It was only a few hundred dollars on Amazon and I installed a large movie screen by using a painters drop cloth sewed onto two dowels and attached to our pergola by brackets. The movie screen is removable, so it gets rolled up and stored in our garage when not in use. But those summer night movies are the best! We’ve hosted so many parties where we have movies running….such a hit for kids AND adults!
We have always done Christmas in July, where we crank up the AC (July 25th always ends up being so hot!) and we bake sugar cookies and gingerbread. We pull out all of the Christmas cookie cutters and sprinkles and just go for it. And all day long we watch our favorite Christmas movies. My kids are 11 and 15 and they still love this tradition!
Great ideas, thanks! Here’s a couple more. The kids and I make a list of free (or cheap) places we want to visit during the summer and check off one a week. We live in San Diego, so for us it usually includes Free Museum Tuesday at Balboa Park, Old Town, a train ride up to San Juan Capistrano (Courtney, thanks for the restaurant tips up there!), and the beach. We also camp in the backyard at least once.