Photo credit: st501351
While teachers are eagerly counting down the days until the last day of school, most parents are counting down those very same days with dread. Hours after school releases for the summer, the incessant cries of “I’m bored!” and “There’s nothing to do!” will be ringing loudly from every home. But summertime doesn’t have to be the era of bored children vegetating in front of the television or glued to their favorite video games. With a little planning and even less money, you can help your kids make the most of their summer without driving you crazy!
Here are 12 activities to keep your kids busy while preserving your sanity in the hot summer months!
Mix together equal parts of cornstarch and water to make fun Liquid Sidewalk Chalk. Add your favorite shades of food coloring to paint the neighborhood sidewalks in bright, vibrant colors. Give the kids a paintbrush or sponge to decorate the pavement, and the next summer rainstorm will wash it away clean!
Cool down on a hot day and learn a little chemistry by making Ice Cream in a Bag. Combine 1/2 cup of milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a quart-sized Ziploc baggie and make sure it is sealed tightly. You can use a second Ziploc to prevent leaks. Place 4 cups of crushed ice and 4 tablespoons of salt in a gallon-sized bag. Place the smaller bag inside the large bag, and make sure the outer bag is sealed tightly as well. Now agitate! Let the kids play catch with the baggies (but not too roughly!) or just shake vigorously until the milk thickens. Eat immediately!
Get moving with a Bike Obstacle Course. Plot a course and add a variety of obstacles for the kids to go over, under, and around on their bikes, skateboards, and scooters. They can compete to see who can finish the course the fastest, and then the winner can redesign the course for another round of competition. Make sure everyone wears their protective gear!
Plant a Garden. Whether it’s vegetables or flowers, let the kids plant a patch of earth with the seeds or seedlings they’ve chosen. Learning to take care of the plants and watching them grow is a wonderful learning experience, and harvesting the fruits -- and vegetables!! -- of their labor is a delicious reward!
Make new friends and paint some Pet Rocks. Scour the neighborhood or just your yard for unique and interesting rocks. Give them personality with painted faces. Once your rocks have been painted and have dried, write up short stories about who your rocks are and the adventures they have. Share the new friends and their stories at dinnertime!
Summertime has an abundance of critters buzzing and flying around, so taking a Nature Walk and doing some Bug Collecting is a great way to get acquainted with your environment. Find an inexpensive bug container at your local dollar store and take a walk. Collect bugs as you go, and, when you return home, see if you can identify them. Don’t have a bug book? Let Google help! Just make sure you release your bugs at the end of your adventure!
Check out your local Public Library for their calendar of free events. Readings by famous authors, story times, theme days, camps, and a million other activities await at libraries across the country. And they’re all free!
Search for hidden treasure and Stage a Treasure Hunt. Hide the “treasure” and create a map to help the kids find their way. You can make it more challenging by giving each kid or group a different section of the map that then needs to be pieced together. Or leave clues along the way that they need to figure out before moving on to the next stop. A great treasure idea? A coupon for ice cream sundaes or an evening s’more party!
Put those survival and design skills to good use and Build Forts. Use the resources available -- logs, tarps, leaves, branches -- to build a shelter to hang out in. But no ripping branches and leaves off of trees! They can only use what’s already on the ground! If the weather outside is too hot, turn the living room into a colony of forts by using blankets and pillows and chairs. And, if you’re feeling especially adventurous, let the kids sleep outside in their new forts (on a night when it’s not likely to rain!).
Kids and adults never outgrow the fun of Bubbles, so make sure your house is stocked with all the necessary bubble supplies. Wands of all varieties and an abundance of bubble solution will keep the kids busy for hours.
Harness your kid’s natural abilities and Attempt to Set a World Record. Peruse the Guinness Book of World Records and pick out a record to focus on for the summer. There are some pretty funny records just waiting to be broken!
Clean up the neighborhood and take a Litter Walk. Arm the kids with a bag and perhaps some rubber gloves and take a walk down the street. Gather up any bits and pieces of litter that you encounter. Bottles and cans, paper, fast-food trash … these all make our neighborhoods look messy, and your kids can help make a difference in their small world as well as the bigger world community.
What fun activities are you planning for your kids this summer? Share in the comments!