Break out the popsicles and water slides; it’s summer time! Whether you’re a screen-free family or screen time abounds, we can all use some ideas for fun summer activities for kids. Find our best suggestions below.
Let’s face it. Screen time is a real health issue, and parenting issue, in today’s society. Most parents swim between allowing screen time for their sanity, and the honest fact that they don’t know what else to do.
In summer, the “I’m bored” comments set in before you’re done flipping the first breakfast pancakes, and you’re left wondering if you should flip on the screen or plan a scavenger hunt outside – everyday. Most of us give up by the end of the first week and allow a free for all when it comes to video games and Netflix.
If you homeschool, this isn’t just a summer issue for you. If you’re a single or solo parent, screen time may feel like a constant necessity.
But, with enough structure and planning, you can create a screen-free atmosphere for your youngsters.
What fun things can you do at home?
Aside from including kids in every day life, including cooking, cleaning, and gardening, (which kids actually do enjoy- they want to do what mom and dad are doing!), there are plenty of fun activities you can do at home, whether you plan ahead or want some spur of the moment fun.
Here are some ideas:
- try a new recipe together (let your child flip through an approved cookbook and choose)
- start a garden (flowers or veggies will do)
- try some silly yoga stretches (check out YouTube)
- make homemade greeting cards for grandparents and teach your child how to mail them
- paint your finger or toe nails together with non toxic polish
- play on a slip n slide
- make a yummy frozen treat together (try these popsicles, these fudgesicles, or ice cream sandwiches)
- have a picnic (indoors or out)
- make a blanket fort
- have a water balloon fight (try these reusable water balls!)
How can I bring my family together?
Tradition in the family helps to build a solid foundation. Having dinner daily together is important, and it’s even more rewarding when you share your “highs” and “lows” of the day, or any other experiences. Try using a conversation starter kit like this.
Board games, card games, and time playing at parks or in the backyard are activities that engage you and your kids together.
Trips and vacations are also times that can bring a family together. Even if you are low on time or budget, think of a family trip you can do this summer (camping is a great, cheap idea) and fill it full of quality family time.
What are some fun activities?
Try a Mad Libs book that will teach the parts of speech while sparking creativity. (It’s amazing what some potty words can do for a boy’s attention!)
Try filling a squirt gun with cleaning spray to make chores outrageously fun.
Read a fun book series together like The Magic Treehouse. The truth is your children love and adore you, and with some funny faces, silly words, or exciting voices, you can easily get their attention.
Subscribe to one of the many monthly box subscriptions out there. From bird watching, to art & crafts, to STEM – these can easily keep your children busy and learning through the summer, for $5-40 per month.
What should I do this summer?
The truth is that some “bored” time is healthy for children. It’s called white or whiteboard space, and children need it. That gives them time to process, use their imagination, and become independent. It’s usually when the best ideas and most real fun happen. Don’t feel bad if your kids are bored!
What are some fun summer activities?
Summer means water and outside time. Sit down as a family and write down every park and swim area you want to visit this summer. Have it be a “summer scavenger hunt” to all of these, and see if you can complete it! You could sit down and share your favorite experience at each over dinner, or try to find one thing at each place – like something red, a rock, or a “question” – something to research when you get home.
What activities does your child like to do?
Think about what your child is interested in, and look for more education and experience in that in your area. Maybe your child loves rocks – is there a rock climbing club? A geology club? A geology monthly box? This can really spice things up – and add loads to learning, as well.
Should you limit screen time?
Research says yes. But, that’s really up to you. The fact is that screens are and will be a part of your child’s life, so rather than ban them altogether (which is necessary sometimes), teach your children how to use screens wisely and with self-control.
That may mean a certain amount of time for screens per day. That may mean earning screen time through reading or chores. But, that also may mean not feeling guilty to have a pizza-and-movie night. It’s about balance, self care, but also self-control.
Regardless of how much screen time you do or don’t allow, be sure to use it wisely. Safe apps on the TV, tablets, and phones are a must. Blue light blocking glasses are a great idea to keep your little’s eyes safe.
The best way to teach this is by example. Do your kids have to say “mom” more than once to get you to look up from your phone? Set aside the technology while you’re with your kids, and log back on once they go to sleep or at nap time. Leave your phone in your car when you go into church, to the park, or for lunch time. Have a space in your house where the phone stays (and you leave).
Fun summer activities for kids by age group
Summer activities for toddlers
Kids love to play in water – be it a huge pool or a bucket. Set your child up a few days a week with outdoor water fun – mud, a hose, a bucket, a shovel, some rocks, some toys to bury – it’s really that simple. Indoors, blocks, Lincoln logs, large Legos, waffle blocks, and tents and fort supplies are all great imaginary toys. A simple art box is also a great idea.
Summer activities for preschoolers
At this age, you can start setting up structured activities or stations. Check out Pinterest for Montessori station ideas, and set aside some time each day to play in them. This keeps them occupied, learning, and also preparing for school.
Summer activities for kids
Older children are ready to be a part of helping out the family. Sit down and cover all the tasks your family needs to complete this summer, and see what they can help with. Maybe you need to install a new walkway, and they can help make the bricks! Maybe you would like to landscape, and they could pick and plant the flowers. Once they get involved, children love doing “adult” things, and you will be surprised how helpful and interested they are. Ice cream or a trip to the pool never hurt as a “reward” for completing a big job!
Summer activities for teens
See if you can set up weekly time for your teen’s friends to come over, visit a park, or a pool. Maybe set up a neighborhood cooking class. Hey, teens need to learn how to make grilled cheese, and you will be the most appreciated mom in the neighborhood. Get your teen involved in summer reading, or even check out what intern opportunities are around.
Otherwise, investing in a pool sounds like a good idea to keep the teens at home.
I hope this encouraged you to put down the screens, and engage in family time. I know that it’s so easy to plop the kids in front of the TV for hours a day, but with a little planning, you can have a fun (nearly) screen-free summer.