Summer is nearly upon us, and that means a houseful of bored kids begging for your attention and something to occupy their time.
Instead of letting them veg out in front of the TV or hang out all day watching other people play video games on YouTube, why not try these great kids summer activities to keep their brain sharp and creative juices flowing?
first day of summer + the kids are already bored. send help.
— chris cantore (@chriscantore) June 13, 2018
You don't have to pack up the pickup and head into the woods to camp out. You can sleep in the great outdoors right in your backyard.
Set up a tent and sleeping bags and bring all the essentials like trail mix, hotdogs, old school water canteens, Coleman lanterns and, of course, s'mores, and leave the screens inside. Turn out all the lights, tell ghost stories and doze off underneath the stars.
Don't have the yard space? Have a camp in in the living room or basement!
Teach your kids responsibility, compassion and gratefulness when you volunteer, and do it as a family.
Help clean up at an animal shelter, serve at a soup kitchen, organize a fundraising drive or deliver meals to those in need. Or visit a nursing home and play games with the seniors. Just be sure to call ahead first anywhere you wish to help out.
Invest in an inexpensive kids metal detector and set them off in the backyard with a handheld spade and see what they can find. Or, do it supervised in a nearby field or at the beach. You never know what they'll dig up. Alternatively, create a scavenger hunt for interesting items around the house.
Yes, Geocaching is still a thing. With Geocaching, you can take your hunt to the next level. If you don't know what Geocaching is, it's basically a worldwide multiplayer digital treasure hunt where you search for scavenger items by GPS coordinates.
Download a free app, see what's in your area and get on 'caching. But don't forget, if you take a treasure, leave a treasure!
The kids made this mini-movie about our #geocaching adventures last #Easter in #Scotland ???????????????????????????? we watch it every now and again and laugh. It was a record breaker for us – 42 in a day on an incredible Highlands trail! @GoGeocaching #eastermonday #BankHolidayMonday pic.twitter.com/bGFblWxpMX
— The Forster-Smiths (@ForsterSmiths1) April 22, 2019
What better time than the two or three months away from school to learn a new instrument! Get the kids started on piano lessons or go shopping for a learner's guitar.
And in this day and age, there's no need to hire an expensive tutor. There are plenty of free lessons on YouTube or cheap video subscription services. And when school starts back up again, they can join the band!
The Junior Ranger program is a learning initiative where kids visit U.S. National Parks, complete a workbook of tasks, trivia questions and essays and earn a special badge!
The program is available at more than 250 National and State Parks, Monuments, Historic Sites, Battlefields and more. See how many you can collect.
And if you can't get there in person, you can earn them through the mail, too!
It's #NationalJuniorRangerDay! Explore, learn, protect…and earn your junior ranger badge at Yosemite and many other national parks! (You're never too old to be sworn in!) #NationalParkWeek pic.twitter.com/cBaz3CTIeg
— Yosemite National Park (@YosemiteNPS) April 20, 2019
Summer is a great opportunity to add to the family. Take a trip to the local ASPCA or shelter and pick out a new pet! Spend summer break teaching your pet tricks and bonding for a lifetime.
Don't forget: Older animals make great pets and have a harder time getting adopted, so consider a senior dog or cat. Most are already house trained, too.
Can't take in a new pet right now? Find a local petting zoo and spend the day getting up close and personal with cute animals. Some farms have visiting times, as well, and many even let you help milk cows and collect chicken eggs.
If you have the space in the backyard and a handy parent, find a good, solid tree (and some instructions on the internet) to create an amazing elevated play space that will last your kids years. Let them help with the design and in construction by hammering a few nails or painting the finished product.
Before you start, check with your local zoning and building codes.
No backyard, no problem! Set aside a workspace and let your kids built the biggest LEGO construction project they can create. Find as many LEGO pieces as possible (you can buy in bulk on Amazon and eBay) and let your kids' imaginations go wild. Forgo pre-existing themes and sets and let their mind be their guide.
Goddaughter: "Can we build a Lego tower?"
GD: *builds an incredibly complicated structure*
Me: *wonders if the kid will become an engineer*
GD: *pushes the tower down and laughs manically*
Me: *hopes the kid will never become an engineer*
— Saga (@nazmuko) March 16, 2019
Gather up everything around the house you don't need any more and throw a yard or garage sale! Let the kids help by picking out some toys they don't use anymore to sell, writing prices on labels, creating a Facebook post for you and putting up flyers all over the neighborhood. When the sale is over, let them donate the leftovers to charity.
Your little ones might be the next Jordan Spieth or Rory McIlroy, so get them started by hitting up your local miniature golf course. The great thing about mini golf is kids of nearly any age can play and you don't have to be any good to have fun. Find a great putt-putt with giant obstacles and shooting into the clown's mouth is a must.
Even in this digital age, a day at the good old local library can be a ton of fun and keeps the learning brain working. And to maximize that all season, most library branches have summer reading challenges for kids, with different books for each age.
Get the kids started on a reading adventure and get a certificate of completion at the end of the summer. You can even do it online with the challenge from Scholastic. And yes, it does still count if they read that kids' classic on an iPad.
The Washington Nationals are pushing the DC Public Library’s summer reading challenge. Nats pitcher @whatwouldDOOdo is at Cleveland Park taking questions from kids and reading a story pic.twitter.com/huB6BHT9Q5
— John Domen (@JDDsays) July 21, 2018
Sure summer blockbusters and the latest Pixar adventures are great, but the theater can get expensive. Help bring the cost of movie day down by hitting the theater on a weekday afternoon for a discounted matinee. Even better, research your local second-run movie house where some shows are as low as a dollar!
And if you still have one near you, pack the car (with kids and snacks) and head to the drive-in where you pay by carload.
Or … invite everyone into the backyard and have a movie party! It's not as hard as it sounds. You can turn your phone or tablet into a movie projector with an adapter from Amazon for as little as $20 or, if you're enterprising, DIY one for nearly nothing.
Then, pop some popcorn, set up a seating area — or preferably one where you can lie down — in front of a blank outdoor wall or a stretched white sheet between two poles or along a fence, and start casting a flick from Netflix.
If that sounds like a lot of work, many cities offer free, bring-your-own-chair movie nights in the park or along a waterfront.
— co ✰ (@colleenparisi) July 23, 2015
Got an interesting city, town, park or historic site in driving distance the kids haven't been to? Pack up the car and take a day trip. Start the day by letting the young ones help pack snacks, drinks and lunch for the car and plan the route on Google Maps.
And when you get there, let them be in charge of taking pictures and, after you're back home, creating a Facebook album or Instagram post from what they shot.
If you have the time, patience and ambition, make it an overnight stay.
A great way to get the kids outdoors over the summer is learning how to fish, whether you live near the ocean, a lake or just a local fishing hole. Gear can be had pretty cheap at Walmart, and in many states, kids under a certain age can fish without a license (check your local ordinances). Don't know how to fish? Just ask YouTube.
Use plastic lures or let the kids get dirty by digging up worms, and either toss your catches back or fry up a fresh dinner if you dare.
What says summer more than kids running their own summer business! Help them set up a traditional lemonade stand in the front yard. Or chaperone them as they go door-to-door offering neighbors a service like dog-walking, lawn-mowing or car-washing. Tell all your fellow parents on Facebook the kids are in business!
After a week or a month, you can take them shopping for whatever they want or help them donate profits to charity. You might even spark a lifelong passion for a career.
Need rainy day plans? Round up all your kids' friends and have a game day! Pile up some of your favs like Monopoly, the Game of Life, Clue, Sorry and more and have a tournament. With enough kids, you can have a round-robin event, set time limits and keep an overall score.
At the end of the day, your winner can take home a prize basket of fun treats.
Learning doesn't have to stop when school is out. And at your local science museum, learning can be fun! Most cities in America, even the smaller ones, have a wonderful hands-on science museum for kids. Many have pre-organized lesson plans or just swing through each exhibit at your own pace.
Some of the best in the nation include the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Wichita's Exploration Place, the Sci Port Discovery Center in Shreveport, LA and the Hands-On! Discovery Center in Johnson City, TN.
Spring/Summer museum hours begin Monday, March 11. Starting then Exploration Place will be open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays noon to 5 p.m. Find out more about museum hours and prices here. Visit ➡️ https://t.co/snShUVdBoS #wichita #museum pic.twitter.com/18Wj5jFV92
— Exploration Place (@DiscoverAtEP) March 9, 2019
Do your kids have grandparents or even great-grandparents who aren't smartphone people? Even if the elder members of your family don't FaceTime, they can still talk face-to-face with their precious little ones.
Most senior citizen centers and retirement communities have communal computer clusters or libraries with computers. Have the kids help teach their grands how to download and use Skype and they'll be able to see each other's smiling faces whenever they want!
Kick off the summer by picking out a wall in your house, preferably in a basement or playroom, and cover it in chalkboard paint. Pick up a bucketful of colorful sidewalk chalk and for the rest of the summer (and beyond), your wall becomes your kids' canvas. Don't have a wall to spare? Let your kids' inner van Gogh out on the driveway or sidewalk.
— Brodsky (@brodskysdeal) April 14, 2019
Make shopping fun! Put together a list, then hit the stores to stock up on school supplies and necessities by the end of July before the rush begins. Don't worry about missing out on August and September sales as most school supplies are on sale all summer when no one is buying them.
Reward the kids for a patient day at the store with a pizza dinner and some ice cream or water ice.