For many children, June marks the beginning of summer vacation. No school, no after school activities, and a whole lot of time for parents to fill at home.
Here are summer activities for kids of all ages to keep kids having fun and away from the television and computer:
- Bubbles: Seriously, it’s so simple and perfect. Set up a bubble station outside with plenty of wands, a bucket of bubble fluid, and some extra fluid on the side. Bubbles are one of those miraculous things that will keep small kids entertained and active for long periods of time.
- Water Play: Water provides a great opportunity for sensory learning. Fill up a small kiddie pool, a water table, or even a large plastic bin (found in the storage section of places like Target) with water. Add in some water toys, plastic animals, buckets and even items like measuring cups and kitchen tools. Put a swimsuit on the kiddo and watch the fun begin.
- Colorful Ice: Fill a tray with ice cubes. Give kids several droppers and cups of watered down food coloring. Let them drop the colors onto the ice, creating more beautiful colors as the ice melts. Perfect for practicing those fine motor skills and great for an introduction to color theory and science.
- Sidewalk Chalk: Another easy activity that will keep young kids occupied. For a change, give them a bucket of water to dip the tip of the chalk in for a different drawing experience.
- Homemade Play Dough: Play dough is really easy to make and is the ultimate sensory/manipulation activity for young kids. Mix together 1 cup flour with about 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup warm water for the perfect dough. Food coloring can make some fun colors and edible extracts like peppermint or almond make it smell yummy.
- Dig For Fossils: In the sand or dirt in the yard, bury some toy dinosaurs and other fun treasures. Give the kids some shovels and let them discover the “fossils”.
- Natural Objects Painting: Collect rocks, shells, sticks, and disks of wood to let the little ones paint. They can be simply decorated or turned into little creatures. Young kids benefit tremendously from examining and manipulating natural objects with different weights and textures.
- Noodle Ball: Blow up a bunch of balloons and cut pool noodles in half. The kids use the pool noodles to keep their balloons off the ground. Simple, easy, and a nice way to get kids moving around.
- Ice Painting: Freeze some watered down tempera or watercolor in ice cube trays. Use the cubes to paint paper or fabric. The color transfers as the ice melts and provides a cool sensory opportunity.
- Giant Car/Marble Track: Use tape, paper towel rolls, pool noodles cut in half, boxes, anything you can find to create elaborate car and marble tracks around the house or outside.
School Age Activities:
- Water Balloons: Another super simple and fun outdoor activity. Some kids just want to throw them around but setting up a game can help to keep kids occupied for longer. Set up a target, play water balloon baseball, set up balloon toss relay races, etc. Remember to clean up those balloon pieces!
- Squirt Gun Painting: Art supply stores sell large canvas as well as rolls of butcher paper. Set it up on an easel or chair outside. Fill squirt guns with nontoxic watered down paint like watercolor or tempera. Aim and fire!
- Fairy Houses: Using only natural objects like rocks, leaves, sticks, shells, and pinecones, help kids to create little houses in the yard. Add in some small dolls for hours of play. All kids benefit from doll and house play.
- Lemonade Stand: I remember setting one up as a kid and having so much fun. Start by making lemonade from scratch and then go about creating a table to sell it from. A great introduction to business and a way to work on math, plus some fresh, homemade lemonade is always appreciated.
- Family Olympics: Set up obstacle courses, three legged and potato sack races, throwing competitions, etc. for the whole family to participate in. You can get cheap gold medals for everyone or go so far to make leaf head wreaths. Throw in some historical facts and you have a great way to exercise all wrapped up in a fun history lesson.
- Photo Booth: Take out dress up clothes, props, makeup, costumes, and fun backdrops. Kids can take turns taking funny, glamorous, and dramatic photos. It’s also helpful to led a hand in the photography or to help the kids set up a tripod and teach them how to use the timer.
- Tie Dye: I remember making tie dye shirts one summer and having a blast. Local craft stores sell everything you need. Have kids experiment with different ways to tie the cloth for different outcomes.
- Broom or Roller Skate Hockey: A classic kids game that gets the neighborhood kids outside. Set up some goals, grab a few balls, collect brooms or hockey skates, and let them play!
- Found Object Wind Chimes: Have kids collect sticks, feathers, shells, recyclables, and even old silverware. They can paint, decorate, and then tie everything together to create unique and beautiful wind chimes.
- Bottle Rockets: Decorate an old soda bottle like a rocket. You can either create a launch pad or tape pencils to the side of the bottle. The purpose is to hold the bottle above the ground and upside down without anyone touching it. Fill it up with about a cup of white vinegar. Put a tablespoon or two of baking soda into the center of a paper towel and fold it up like a package. Insert the package into the bottle and seal it with a cork. Put on launching pad and stand back!
- Backyard Camping: Warm summer nights are perfect for spending an evening outdoors. Set up a tent, lay out sleeping bags, take out the telescope, make s’mores on the bbq, heat up some cocoa, sing songs, and tell scary stories. What better way to reconnect as a family?
- Cooking At Home: Young children benefit tremendously from helping adults cook. They learn the beginnings of math, following directions, science, and are more likely to try new foods. It’s also a really great way to teach safety in the kitchen when around hot ovens and sharp knives. Make simple fruit salads or extravagant cakes and watch the excitement and wonder of food grow. Big kids will get just as much fun and benefit out of cooking as little ones. Bigger kids can take on more complex recipes and use fine motor skills with a bit more refinement. They continue to learn math, science, following directions, and an incredibly valuable life skill.
- Scavenger Hunt: Creating a list of plants and objects and even bugs can help kids to learn about their surroundings and to practice observational skills.
- Picnic: Whether it’s in the backyard or at a local park, a picnic is one of my favorite activities. Turn it into a big production: make sandwiches, put together a salad, bake cookies, and prepare some fruit and vegetables. Take the time to pack it all up along with a big towel or blanket and head outside. Playing simple games like frisbee are perfect for a picnic, too.
- Cardboard Box Fun: A few cardboard boxes are pretty much magic. They can be turned into a castle, a rocket ship, a car, a boat, a house, a cave, an airplane… Younger kids just need a box of markers to decorate the boxes. Older kids can use scissors and tape to get even more creative.
- Game Night: Set up board games like Monopoly or Life or Go Fish for younger kids. Games like poker using poker chips (or even chocolate chips or whatever you have) helps older kids practice math and exercise critical thinking skills.
- Make And Fly A Kite: A super fun craft activity that will go beyond creating art. When the kites are done, flying them at the park is a perfect family activity.
- Garden Crafts: Making stepping stones, decorating flower pots, homemade watering cans out of recyclables, and even just painting some rocks can spruce up a home garden and gets kids outside.
- Bubble Art: Add food coloring to bubble fluid and have kids blow the bubbles at a piece of paper. The resulting painting is fun and colorful. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to create art in a new and interesting way.
- Homemade Bird Feeders: Once you buy some bird seed, it’s really easy to make cute containers to hang up outside. Empty orange halves, milk containers, glued together popsicle sticks all work or you can use peanut butter to stick it onto something or form a nice shape attached to a string. Hang in the yard and bird watch.
Places To Go:
- Planetarium/Science Center
- Farmer’s Market
- Visit A Farm
- Ice Skating
- Amusement Park
- County Fair
- Water Park
- Flea Market
- National Park
- Train or Boat Ride
- Road Trip
- Botanical Garden
- Mini Golf