Summer Fun: Great Ideas To Keep Your Kids Entertained
With all the topsy-turvy changes this past school year — from remote classes to quarantined pods, limited socializing, and way too much screen time — it’s time to unplug and enjoy time with your kids. Here are nine ideas for creating your own summer fun.
When my sons were little, nearby camp options were limited and expensive, so they attended only a few weeks of camp. That meant I needed to find a way to keep them entertained while juggling my freelance career. I ended up having what we called “Mommy Camp,” which involved everything from day trips to local walks, surprise journeys and afternoons spent playing, creating, cooking, reading and making messes.
Inspiring ideas for summer fun
Here’s what helped us pass the time, grow closer, and learn from one another, all while staying relatively sane and mostly unplugged:
Magical mystery tour
A magical mystery tour can be just about anything you want it to be. It can involve a day trip or encompass an entire week. Most importantly, it should be a surprise! The surprise part is half the fun. Take the kids someplace they haven’t been before, or somewhere they love to go, and integrate a creative or reading project if you can. Think about what your children are interested in and let their passions lead the way. Remember, the journey is as important as the destination.
Explore the natural world
A day at the beach. A picnic at your local park. An afternoon by the pool or lake. A hike in the woods. Kids are fascinated by the natural world, which offers so many opportunities for creativity, exploration, and wonder. Bring along a pad and pens for sketching, or tools for digging and collecting, and definitely swim trunks if you’re near the water! The fun awaits just beyond your door.
Summertime offers a great opportunity to teach kids to prep and cook — and they’ll be more likely to try new foods that they make themselves. Even if you’re a novice cook yourself, get started together! Decide together what you’ll cook and bake together, or prepare an entire meal. Even more, if you have an herb or vegetable garden, integrate these home-grown ingredients into your recipe, making the finished dish all the more special.
When it’s rainy out, too hot, or you’re all just plumb-tuckered, it’s okay to stay at home and have a pajama day. After all, it’s summer, right? Let the kids stay in their soft, comfy PJs, build a fort, and read books inside the fort. Take out their favorite board games and puzzles and just hang out. Cap the day with breakfast for dinner and a family movie night, complete with a big bowl of popcorn.
Craft projects inspire the imagination, help kids practice fine motor skills, and are just plain fun. Paint and decorate unfinished wood picture frames, write and decorate cards to friends and grandparents, make creatures or miniature foods out of clay…the possibilities are endless! Or simply lay out an assortment of your favorite supplies and watch their creativity take flight. If you have a ceramics studio nearby, let your child have fun painting a special mug, bowl or plate — you’ll be amazed how useful these pieces become. They make great gifts, too.
Attend local events and activities
Is there a zoo, farm or wildlife sanctuary nearby? What about an art or natural science museum? Enjoy an outing to whatever places interest you and your child. Check out seasonal activities online to discover what’s going within driving distance, from fruit picking to farmers’ markets, story time and local music performances. Take the time to discover family-friendly opportunities and meet up with friends to share the experience!
Let your child lead the way
Empower your child to decide how to spend a morning, afternoon, or a future event you plan together. Giving kids the opportunity to decide sends them the message that you value their opinion, instilling confidence and leadership skills. If your child simply responds, “I don’t know,” after you ask, “What would you like to do?” you can offer a few options to make it easier.
Feel good by doing good
Every week, or even once a day, focus on doing something with your child that involves helping or giving to others. Write a card or letter to a loved one. Bake something for a neighbor or friend. Help pull weeds or plant vegetables in the garden. Take your dog for a walk together. Even the smallest actions, like sharing, practicing kindness to a sibling, friend or pet, helps foster empathy, kindness, and social-emotional awareness.
Take time to just hang out
Every day doesn’t need to be one filled with high adventure. Kids love just hanging out, too. Have a “reading date,” where you read together or side-by side, letter-writing time, puzzle time or look at old photo albums. If ya-yas are running high, go outside and practice cartwheels, or cool off with homemade popsicles, a water balloon toss, or a run through the sprinkler. Unearth toys and games you haven’t used in awhile and don’t be afraid to make a mess. Teaching kids how to clean up is valuable, too.
Out of the mouths of babes…
The simple act of chatting while eating at the table, driving in the car or walking around the neighborhood helps you bond, learn what’s on your child’s mind, and connect in a way that’s both relaxed and spontaneous. Ask open-ended questions and actively listen without judging. You’ll be amazed what you discover and learn along the way.
Remember: Just because you’re a parent and your kids are out of school doesn’t mean you have to entertain your kids 24/7. Give them the space and time to find their own fun, too (ideally sans screens). They’ll learn how to fend off boredom, explore their creativity, and get resourceful — all great skills that promote independence and build self-esteem.
Entertainment essentials to add to your go-to list this summer
Available in more colors
Available in more colors
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