Show of hands, how many parents have already run out of ideas on how to keep their kids engaged this summer?
Let’s be honest, in a way, 2020 has felt a little like summer break since March and for some, the entertainment idea well might be running a little dry. In doing a quick internet search there are a plethora of websites and articles detailing How to have the best summer ever with your kids. So many in fact it could take your whole summer to read them all, but there is no need for that because we’ve done it for you. After browsing a few of our favourite resources (here, here, here, and here, plus a few ideas of our own) we’ve put together a list of 18 fun summer activities.
But not just any list.
This list has some very specific criteria; it had to be summery, had to remain close to home (because you know, 2020), had to be able to be accomplished with items that commonly found at home, and (shh don’t tell the kids) had to have some educational or developmental merit.
1. Summer Bucket List- Ask your kids what do they want to do this summer. Make a list. Have them write down, or draw, all the things they think would be great family activities then start checking them off.
2. Walk (or drive) Around Bingo- Start with a theme. A few suggestions might be the alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes. Create a “bingo card”, this could even be all the elements of your theme written in a notebook, then head out for a walk. Take a look around your neighbourhood and check items off as you find them. The walk is over once your bingo card is full. For example: Write down the alphabet A to Z in a notebook and then look for letters on signs, licence plates, and mailboxes to check off your list.
3. Start A Collection- Live near a park? Collect sticks. Have a neighbourhood full of trees? Collect leaves. A collection can be any grouping of like objects. Make a bet with your child how many items you think will be in your collection by the end of summer to keep their interest. Whatever the item is will give ample opportunity for discussion and learning.
4. Shadow Show- The high summer sun is perfect for casting shadows. Find a sunny spot and use the ground as a canvas to make all the shadow shapes you can. See if you can make your shadow look like an animal, or a tree, or anything else you can dream up. Want to take it up a notch, ask your kids if they think they can beat their shadow in a race.
5.Cloud Watching- An oldie but a goodie. Find a comfy spot to lay in the grass and watch those fluffy clouds float by. Don’t forget to point out what they look like to you.
6. Get Cooking- Pick a recipe together and let the kids, safely, play chef. You can find step-by-step lessons and recipes at Cooking With Kids, along with measurement reminders, and safety tips.
8. Get Loud- Create musical instruments from materials found around the house. Need some ideas on what to use? Enchanted Learning has a great list of homemade musical instruments such as a rattle, box guitar, maraca, and rain stick.
9. Cooldown- With Ice Cream in a Bag. Got 5 minutes and a few ingredients? Then you’ve got a homemade treat. Sidenote* Any milk will work, and in fact, so will juice for a slushy drink. Up the fun factor by putting the ingredient bag and ice in a coffee can and letting the kids kick the can back and forth for 10 minutes.
10. Let Out Their Inner Animator- by creating their own flipbook. Staple pieces of paper together or use a notebook. “Kids draw a sequence of cartoons and simulate motion as they "flip" through the pages.”
11. Go On Tour- This one is of course great for older students nearing the end of high school. Take a virtual Campus Tour of colleges and universities they might be considering. But its also a great way for a parent to spark a conversation with a younger child as well. Show them where you went to school. Let them ask questions about what it was like when you were there, and why you chose to go there.
12. Take Flight- “Have your child follow instructions to Build the Best Paper Airplane in the World. Then ask your child to design an original paper airplane and diagram the steps for constructing it, so another family member can recreate it!”
13. Light It Up- Similar to the idea of a nighttime shadow puppet show, except you get to watch and let nature do the performing. “Hang a white sheet outside at night and shine a light on it. Observe the variety of insects it draws. To identify some of those nighttime visitors, explore links such as this one.”
14. A Word A Day- Improve their vocabulary (and maybe yours) by creating a word jar. Fill a jar with pieces of paper that have a different word on each. Each day, let your child pick a word from the jar. For young children read it to them and explain what it means. For Elementary aged children let them read the word and the definition. And for older children have them read a word and try and define what they think it means before revealing the answer. Then challenge your child to use that word in his or her conversations throughout the day.
15. Summer patterns- “Create patterns using summer items (popsicle sticks, shells, flowers). Or, draw patterns in the sand or dirt using a stick or your hands. See how long you can carry out your pattern — along the length of the sandbox, or across the grass.”
16. Become An Outdoor Artist- Use leaves to make a rubbing collage. And don’t stop there, see what other textures and shapes you could use to etch silhouettes.
17. Rainbows Bubbles- That’s right, we said Rainbow Bubbles. Blow your kid’s minds by adding food colouring to their bubble mix, then blow the bubbles onto plain paper to see create a piece of art that truly pops.
18. Get Messy- Fair warning, we’ve saved the messiest for last. It may also be the most fun. Balloon splatter painting. There are a few ways this can be done but the materials are the same: Small balloons filled with (washable) paint, a canvas, and a wild streak.
Option 1: Secure the balloons to the canvas with tape or tacks and let the kids pop them with something (under adult supervision).
Option 2: Set the canvas up at a good distance and toss the balloons at it like you would a water balloon.
If all else fails, get out, enjoy the sun, and let them take the lead on your next adventure.