For those looking for some fun ways to stay busy in the summer, here are a few ways to make those long summer days fun. My oldest is 5 and half years old, so some of these are geared towards young kids, but hopefully you can find some activities on this list for kids of all ages!-->
- Make your own cardboard box puppet theater and put on a show!
- Sun Art Prints. My kids love putting different toys or nature items on this special paper and then putting them in the sun and watching as the sun creates a print.
- Check out tons of craft and other activities in our A to Z teaching themes as well! I definitely plan on continuing homeschooling my kids to some degree during the summer.
- Put on a backyard circus--My kids did tricks on the swing, a "tight rope walk" (with a rope on the ground), riding a "horse" (my daughter's play horse), "animal training" with stuffed animals, and more. We set up chairs and took turns doing acts for each other and cheering each other on. You could also do a fun back yard carnival--we will be sharing some more ideas for that soon!
- Have your own "Olympics" with friends or family (with the real Olympics on last year, this was especially fun--but we definitely want to repeat this activity this year, too!). Some games you could play would be a water balloon shotput toss (with targets drawn from chalk), foot races (or three-legged races for a little bit of a challenge), javelin toss with pool noodles, etc.
- Make a movie with your kids. You could do a lip sync to your favorite song or make an action movie with some of your kids' favorite toys--My kids love seeing home movies that they have made or starred in!
- Put on swimsuits, run through the sprinklers, set up a slip n' slide or mini pool, or otherwise splash around in your backyard. My kids call these "cooling off" parties.
- Play some water games with water balloons, sponges, and more--such as these outdoor water games.
- Grab your waterproof shoes and head to an outdoor fountain that the kids can splash in. We have several malls and libraries around here with fountains in which kids can run through and splash in.
- Wash the car! This is not a "chore" for my kids--they love it when they get to help spray the hose and fill buckets with water and soap to wash our cars.
- Head to the local beach or community pool--we are lucky to have the beach close by. It is free (except maybe parking) and always open!
- Make homemade popsicles (we just made these by freezing some of our favorite juice in popsicle molds we got from the dollar store).
- Make homemade ice cream, or even try having the kids shake up their own ice cream as they did in this preschool class.
- Grab some berries from your local farmer's market and make some fresh smoothies! There are tons of recipes you can find online or just make up your own concoction!
- Welcome the sunshine of summer with a "Hello Sunshine" snack--This was a Pinterest find--a cute little snack plate made from fruit.
- Have a Backyard Picnic! Spread out a blanket in your yard or at the park. Pack up your lunches and soak up sunshine while eating your food.
- Read lots of books--And while you are at it, take advantage of storytimes and summer reading programs at your local library and elsewhere. Kids can earn a free book at Barnes and Noble, and you may have other fun incentives in your community!
- Learn a new skill! Have each member of your family make one or more goals to learn or create something new during the summer--whether it be learning to ride a bike without training wheels, learning to play a new song on the guitar or piano, creating something new through sewing or woodwork, or learning about or creating whatever else inspires you! At the end of the summer you can have a family talent show/expo where you show off your new skills or creations.
- Find some creative ways to make those summer chores fun! One year my mom gave us pretend money for doing jobs which we then got to use to go "shopping" in her "store" at the end of the year (which mostly had school supplies but also a few other treats). You could also try these job sticks or this "pay the maid" idea
- Have a Lemonade Stand--teach kids how to make lemonade, have them practice writing and drawing by making signs, and teach them some math skills as they sell the lemonade and collect money. We had our kids do their lemonade stand in conjunction with our annual neighborhood garage sale and it was so much fun for them!
Out and About
- Go to a movie--The Regal Movie Theater here offers $1 movies on weekday mornings in the summer. My kids love this--the only time my kids ever go to a theater is during these summer movie events because movie theater tickets in California are normally more than $10 a person! Check their website to see if you have a participating theater nearby.
- Go to a museum--Most of the museums and botanic gardens here in southern California have at least one free day a month--usually on a weekday. Check the museums around where you live to see if they have any days you can visit for free! Our favorite here is the Autry Museum (free second Tuesday of the month). Other museums here such as the Getty, the California Science Center, and the Cabrillo Aquarium are always free (you have to pay to park, though). Sometimes places you wouldn't ordinarily think of taking young kids--such as an art museum--can actually turn out to be a great experience! My kids are all 5 and under and you wouldn't believe how much they love the modern art at the LACMA and the hands-on activities at the Getty.
- Take your kids camping. Camping can be a very fun and inexpensive "vacation" in which you will definitely make some memories. Here in California you can go camping in the mountains or at the beach--but most places require that your reserve your spot weeks or months in advance--so now is the time to start planning! Since our kids are young, we usually just do short overnight camping trips--we go on a Friday night so we don't even have to take vacation days from work. I always plan a few fun nature-themed activities to keep my little kids entertained at the campsite as well. We have made nature collages, gone on a nature scavenger hunt, made nature journals, and more. My previous post about Earth Day has some great Earth-themed activities you could do while camping. Or if you can't make it to a real campground, have a backyard campout, or even camp out in your living room!
- Go on a family walk/bike ride--One thing we love about summer is that it stays light so much longer. One of our family's summer traditions is to go on a short walk or bike ride after dinner most evenings. It's a great way for kids to work out some of those wiggles before bedtime and get some quality family time. Or during the day, you could plan a longer bike ride--pack a picnic and go to your favorite park, farmer's market, or beach spot.
- Go bowling--At our local bowling alley, kids can get 2 free bowling game a day all summer long! Check and see if you have any participating bowling alleys where you live at Kids Bowl Free.