The change in weather, longer days and end of the school make summer an exciting time to be a kid. It’s easy to hang inside and get caught up on electronic devices, playing video games, and the like, but kids need time outside! Did you know kids today are actually physically weaker than they were 25 years ago?! Though unstructured, outdoor free time is often the best, sometimes it’s nice to have a few options to jumpstart the summer fun! We’ve compiled a list of a few ideas to help spark creativity and fill the sudden overload of free time.
1. Plant an herb garden! It’s not too late. Herbs are easy to grow in most climates and start easily indoors. They’re low maintenance and can thrive in pots! Grab some small ceramic pots, seeds and soil at a hardware store or plant nursery. Let kids paint the pots with craft store acrylic or enamel paint. Be aware, these paints stain and may not be the best option for the youngest of kids! With a little TLC, you’ll have sprouts in no time. Later, use the herbs for cooking and give them a better understanding of where food comes from.
2. Create an obstacle course. Get creative! Use lawn furniture, household items, toys, whatever you can find! Make a series of obstacles and challenge kids to complete each section in a specific way. For example, have them crab crawl under a lawn table then hop over a few sticks before weaving between gates while walking backwards. Foam pool noodles work great for this.
3. Have a picnic. Focus on finger food! Have the kids help prepare snacks and special goodies. You can make the simplest foods fun or “fancy.” Some ideas: cut pb&j’s into small triangles, make fruit kabobs on toothpicks, or create necklaces with yarn and bite-size pretzels. Consider a unique location. Maybe there’s a local park that permits feeding fish bread crumbs, or perhaps there is an airport nearby where you can watch planes take off!
4. Make a treasure hunt. The journey is just as fun as the destination. Start by creating a treasure. Grab an old shoe box and fill it with goodies. You can buy a special treasure or just use a fun snack! Hide the treasure box well and then create a series of clues that lead up to its destination. Work backwards from the treasure with clues that make them explore all around outside.
5. Create a lemonade stand. It’s a summer classic! Grab cups, lemonade mix and a cooler full of ice. Set up on a small table and let kids learn the basics of running their own small business. It’s fun, they’ll learn a lot and you’ll be surprised at how many people actually stop to buy!
6. Find a local thrift store (or yard sale) and pick up a “new” outdoor toy. The hunt is half the fun. Map out a couple of stops and set a budget. A few bucks and you should be able to find a new little treasure...jump ropes, squirt guns, hockey sticks, basketballs, the possibilities are pretty endless. If you’re having trouble finding kid specific options, think creatively. An old map, magnifying glass, or unique household trinket could spark a fun outdoor activity.
7. Create an ice block treasure hunt. Find some small knick knacks and toys around the house to use as the petrified treasure -- matchbox cars or small plastic animals work great! In a large tupperware, freeze the toys in water. Set the kids up outside with their ice block and set of archeology tools: spoons, toothbrushes, a small hammer, paint brushes, etc. If it’s not super hot outside, also provide a salt shaker and spray bottle full of warm water to help speed up the dig.
8. Build a bird feeder or a birdhouse. Bird feeders can be super easy to make. The simplest of bird feeders: take a pinecone, roll it in peanut butter, then in bird seed and tie up in a tree with a piece of yarn! Hardware stores often sell make-your-own birdhouse kits that are great for kids. There are all kinds of fun options for every age. A quick pinterest search should give you a ton of age-appropriate options.
9. Build a ramp. Don’t worry, the level of difficulty is up to you. Build a ramp for one of your kids’ favorite activities. Start small and work your way up. If they’re confidently riding a scooter, bike or skateboard, simply prop up a piece of plywood with a few bricks or 2 by 4’s. Even just a few inches of incline is enough for hours of entertainment. For the youngest of kids, a flattened cardboard box could be enough to give them a thrill. Another fun option is to build a ramp for their toys! Use cardboard, wood, the lid of a storage box, or whatever you can find. Racing cars and trucks down a homemade ramp can be super fun.
10. Visit a local farm or community garden. Most communities, rural or urban have some sort of farm culture close by. Do a little research and find a farm where you and the kids can visit. If you’re stumped as to where to go, try searching the web for “pick your own farm,” “farms you can visit,” or “community garden” in your area. Likely there is something close by. It’s a fun, affordable way to be outside learning about food, and farm animals.
Childhood should be strewn with fun memories and cool learning experiences. Planning activities to keep kids occupied in the summer months can be a challenge. Remember that loose plans and unstructured time is ok too! Boredom is often the first spark to the best creative ideas. We love these activities as fun guidelines and ideas to get started but kids have a way of coming up with their own modifications and ways of entertaining themselves. Do you have some awesome activities for the summer months? Share with us! Send an email to email@example.com.