Without the structure of the school routine, summer can seem very long for you and your kids. Luckily, the weather allows for plenty of activities to enjoy outdoors. This summer, turn off the screens and make some memories. Try out a few of these fun summer activities to get kids excited.
Make Sidewalk Art
Need a good free summer activity for kids? Think sidewalk art. All you need is some chalk and creativity. You might also take your kids to a park with a large paved area and get creative.
Play Disc Golf
You can find disc golf at most local parks. Grab your discs and head to the park for a fun game together. It's an exciting activity that can keep kids going for hours.
Go for a Bike Ride
Kids love to ride their bikes out of the driveway. Take them to a local bike trail and allow them to spread their wings. You'll also get some time with nature.
Visit a Local Park or Playground
You can find local parks all over the U.S. These have playgrounds, wooded trails, and other fun things for kids to do. Take a book for yourself or take a trip on the merry-go-round. You can't go wrong when it comes to this classic summer activity for kids.
Go for a Walk on Rail Trail
Do you have a local rail trail near you? You are in luck. Grab the kids, snacks, and your walking shoes. Rail trails are ideal for kids since they are typically surrounded by nature and have several areas to stop and rest or picnic.
Do you have a little skateboarder or rollerblader on your hands? Find a local paved trail, pump track or skate park and take them skating. They are sure to love it.
Go for a Hike
The trail system in the United States is vast and waiting to be discovered. Trails are ideal for family hiking because the system is marked by the level of difficulty, type of trail, etc. This marking system makes it much easier as a family to know what you can handle and what you should avoid. See if there are any geocaches or letterboxes on your trail.
Make a Fort
There is a lot to be learned from making your own fort in the backyard. Give your kids some old sheets, help them find sticks, and have them create a fort. If they are mechanically inclined, they might try their hand at making a tree fort.
Go to Berry Festivals
Berry festivals abound during the summer. Take your kids for a day of 'berry' fun, family-friendly festivities with kid-friendly entertainment, a crafts show, a cook-off featuring the star berry, and typically musical entertainment. You can normally find regional festivals and check out websites like U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and Pick Your Own.
Find a Pick-Your-Own Berries Farm
Find a berry farm near you, and take your kids for a day of picking and good old-fashioned fun. Before heading out, you'll want to call the farm you want to go to and make sure there's something to harvest. And be sure to bring your own containers if the farm will allow them.
Make Homemade Jam
Making homemade jam is a great activity to do with several generations. While the kids probably shouldn't boil the fruit, they are sure to get into the mashing and preparing of the fruit. Pick up pectin at your local grocery store for a simple homemade jam recipe. Since pectin is a critical ingredient in a jam, there is always a recipe for easy-to-make jam on the back.
Go Foraging for Berries
Berries grow all over the wild. Take a walk around your local forest or ask about local wild berry spots in your area. Let the kids forage for berries. Just make sure to check that the berries are safe to eat.
Grow Berries at Home
If your kiddos love berries and berry picking, you might grow your own berries. You'll need to gather some seeds and go to work. It's a fun activity that can be shared for years.
Go to the Beach
Looking for an activity to fill your whole day? Hit the beach. Kids can swim in the ocean and play in the sand for hours. Plus, it doesn't cost you a dime. You might also want to bring a picnic and check out beaches with fun lighthouses or attractions.
Grab some cups, containers, and other items to mold sand, and create a sandcastle. For those enthusiasts in your family, buy a bucket full of sandcastle building tools before you head to the beach.
Hunt for Seashells
Pop some sandwich or freezer bags in your bag and head to the beach. Give your kids a few baggies and allow them to comb the beach for seashells. Have them find all different kinds and shapes. These can work great for indoor activities and crafts on a rainy day.
Make a Sand Mermaid or Merman
Who doesn't love to bury their friends in the sand? Have mom and dad help, or gather your beach friends and create a beach mermaid or merman. You can bury a friend in the sand and give them a tail, or work together to create a sand mermaid, face and all.
Search for Wildlife
Wildlife abounds at your local beach and trail areas, whether it's birds in the air, crustaceans hiding in the tidal pools, or seals or dolphins swimming just off the coast. With a sharp eye, you can find and even photograph some wildlife if you're observant enough. Bring a camera for your kids to photograph those fantastic moments. Don't worry if the pictures don't come out; the kids will like getting to use them anyway.
Go Beach or Forest Combing
Combing the beach or forest for nifty treasures can yield all sorts of great activities for later. Bring a basket with you and collect beach wood, eggs, starfish, bones, teeth, skulls, rocks, etc. You can use some of these finds to create cool crafts.
Create a Beach Shadow Box
Purchase a thick frame from a craft store that can be used as a shadow box. (Some stores even sell them labeled as "shadow boxes"). Have your kids arrange a few items you've collected on your adventures in the frame. It can be one large shell, several smaller ones, or a mixture of shells and other beach debris. When your kids pass by that hanging, they will have memories of a great day.
Make a Time Capsule
For this easy craft, have your kids put a few trinkets and items that represent the current era in the capsule and bury it. Make a note of where you buried it and agree on a time and date when you'll dig it up and have a blast from the past.
Few things in life are as relaxing as sitting by a calm lake waiting for a bite. Kids can enjoy the simple sport, whether fishing is an all-summer-long activity for the entire family or something you do once a year. Make sure you check out TakeMeFishing.org, a website dedicated to promoting fishing for families. You can also find fun activities like a free printable coloring book at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Create a Nature Observer Kit
Nature is all around you. Have kids use it to their advantage. Pack a small backpack that includes binoculars, a camera, and a sketchbook. Bring along a few field guides for your area. Allow kids to explore and see what they find.
Play 'I Spy' Nature Style
When you are outside on a sunny summer day, play a game of I Spy. This is a great game to play on a nature walk in the woods or out fishing.
Join The Great American Campout
While you can certainly set up your tent in your backyard, sleep under the stars, and call it a night, the National Wildlife Federation sponsors The Great American Campout. Typically held in June, families can choose to register (it's free) and have the opportunity to raise funds, participate in a group campout if they want, and post their adventures online for families and friends.
Is your kid a lover of all things buggy? Give them a ventilated bug collecting container and have them collect bugs all over the neighborhood. It's an excellent opportunity to teach them good stewardship by releasing any bugs that they do catch.
While you're camping out, you'll miss out if you don't take the opportunity to stargaze with your kids. It's the ideal activity on a clear night; not only is it educational, but the constellations all have stories based on Greek mythology. It's like science and storytelling wrapped into one stargazing adventure.
Find Library Read Alouds
If your kids see reading as drudgery, use this summer to change their thinking. While the sun might abound during the summer, giving way to lots of outdoor fun, there will be at least a few rainy days. To help inspire a love of reading in your kids, use the summer to make regular stops at the library and pick a great read-aloud book that is engaging for your whole family.
Host a Neighborhood Book Club
Do your kids love to read? Get kids together and host a summer book club. You can focus on a genre, an author, or read whatever the kids want to read. Discussing books with friends is fun, but it can help encourage your kids to read more often during the summer months. If your school publishes a summer reading list, you can invite your kids' friends over to read the books on the list and take the boredom out of reading homework. Serve snacks and lemonade, and your summer book club will be a booming success.
Join a Summer Reading Incentive Program
The children's department at your local library is the first place to check for any summer reading incentive program. Many libraries across the United States host summer reading clubs, incentives, and other activities to keep kids reading. If you want more, or your library doesn't have a summer reading club, check out Barnes & Noble. Each summer, your local Barnes & Noble awards free books based on how much you read.
Have a Reading Picnic
Pack up your picnic and head to the local park. Bring lots of blankets, snacks, and books for kids to enjoy. Have them lay out in the sunshine and read their favorite book or comic.
Enjoying bowling this summer is easy with Kids Bowl Free. Register at the site and use the search tool to find a participating bowling alley near you. Kids within the age limit can register to receive two free games per day at a participating bowling alley (and some schools do it too).
Check out a movie at your local theater. The national theaters offer summer movie series where kids (and sometimes their parents) can get reduced or almost-free tickets for kid-friendly viewing. However, don't be shy about calling your local movie theatre. They may well offer discounted tickets for the summer for select shows to keep up with the competition. CineMark's Summer Movie Clubhouse includes the Century Theaters group, which offers select kids' movies at a bargain price.
Go to a Pool
Do you have a pool near you? Then it's time to jump in. Visit the local pool and enjoy the sunshine.
Take Swimming Lessons
Swimming is a pivotal skill for any kid to have. Use the warmth of the summer to your advantage, and find a few swimming lessons available.
Play in the Sprinkler
Turn on the sprinkler and let the kids at it. They will have hours of fun and cool off quickly. This is also a great time for you to relax. You might even throw down a tarp and create a little slip and slide.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
Think about a water balloon fight instead if you don't want your water bill to skyrocket. You can buy a few cheap balloons and start throwing.
Play in Bubbles
Bubbles are fun for all ages. Add some water and dish soap to a wading pool in your backyard. Use a hula hoop to create enormous bubbles for kids to play in and pop.
Visit the Zoo or Aquarium
Looking to squeeze in a bit of education this summer? Make a point to visit your local aquarium and zoo. Chances are excellent that both spots have educational programs and happenings to help teach future zoologists and marine biologists about conservation and animals. If your zoo or aquarium is vast, buy a membership. That way, you can plan to see certain animals on each visit. Don't forget the binoculars.
Volunteer Your Time
Take your kids this summer to give back to the community. There are a variety of organizations that will help you find a good match for your family; or you can work to raise money for your own favorite cause. In addition to local senior centers and hospitals, you can find volunteer work at Youth Volunteer Corps of America, Patch.com, and VolunteerMatch.org. Be sure to look for kid-friendly opportunities.
Start a Lemonade Stand
Alex's Lemonade Stand has become synonymous with summer fundraising. If you have no time to travel but are willing to set up a lemonade stand in your front yard, you can raise money to donate to a charity of your choice. The site gives you tips on getting started, lemonade recipes, and inspiration to keep you going.
Become a Citizen Scientist
Being a citizen scientist is a family activity that gives kids opportunities to learn unique aspects of their local habitat. In addition, it helps hone their observation skills, which is crucial to the study of science. There are several citizen science projects going on.
Join Journey North
Journey North is an ongoing project that tracks migration and wildlife worldwide. To get involved, you only have to register on their site, and from there, you can get directions on a variety of projects based on your needs. They even offer an online mystery class where students have to track data and find the mystery location based on that data. Whether you want to plant tulips or watch the migration of whooping cranes, Journey North is a great life science resource.
Watching fireflies is magical. Glowing bursts of light that illuminate a backyard appeal to big kids and little kids alike. With Project Firefly Watch, you register on the site, fill out a description of your habitat, and record your observations.
SciStarter isn't a project in and of itself but instead lists hundreds of citizen science projects that you and your kids can participate in. You choose a location where you want to do your activity (i.e., at school, at the beach, etc.) and then the type of subject you'd like to study, and SciStarter gives you a list of websites of citizen science projects that meet your criteria.
If your kids are bugging you, have them go outside and chase butterflies. They can draw pictures of the butterflies with their favorite colors.
Dig for Fossils
Did you know fossils are everywhere? They could even be in your backyard. Give your kiddos a shovel and have them see what they can find. You can even bury treasures and have them dig them up.
Fly a Kite
On a windy day, there is nothing better than flying a kite. All you need is a kite and little wind to get you started.
Grow a Garden
Gardening is a summer-long activity that makes for both fun memories and a good learning experience. If you've never done a garden before, check out KidsGardening. It is a website packed with tips and ideas, and they also have a store that sells tools that are useful to children in particular.
Have a Potatoes Treasure Hunt
Obtain a 32-gallon garbage can and drill several holes into the bottom. Fill the garbage can with about 10-inches of compost. As potatoes sprout, keep filling the garbage can with more compost - about 8 to 10-inches each time. Continue to do this throughout the summer. When you're ready to harvest, dump the whole thing on the ground and let the kids dig for the potato treasures.
Roast and Cook Food Outside Together
The word campout is practically synonymous with great food. Still, you can go beyond the roasted hot dogs, s'mores, and kabobs that your kids have come to expect and serve a gourmet picnic feast that is so simple to prepare, that your kids can help! Here are a few recipes:
Roast Pigs in a Blanket
Use crescent dough and wrap your hot dogs up. Roast them on a stick over an open fire (after all, that is half the fun), and the dough will cook nicely over the hot dog. Purchase ketchup and mustard packets for easy cleanup.
Make a S'mores Bar
Why not try something unique with your s'mores this year? Purchase flavored marshmallows, use shortbread cookies instead of graham crackers, or Reese's Peanut Butter Cups instead of plain chocolate. Offer bowls of coconut, chopped nuts, toffee bits, or jelly to help round out what is sure to be a favorite dessert.
To make these treats, you'll need a cast-iron pot, refrigerated biscuit dough (one biscuit makes two doughnuts), tongs, and oil. Place your pot, halfway full of oil, over the fire and heat. Break each biscuit in half and dip it into the oil. The biscuits will be golden brown. Offer bowls of powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dipping.
Make Veggie Kabobs
Just because you're camping, it doesn't mean that you need to shirk your duty to get your kids to eat vegetables. Bring your kids' favorite vegetables, kabob skewers (you may have to carve sticks to get something long enough), and seasoning salt. Lightly salt the vegetables and roast them over an open fire.
Fun Summer Activities for Kids
Summer is a great time to play outdoors, but remember to offer plenty of shade, water, and sunscreen and bring the games indoors if the weather becomes too hot. Indoors or out, these fun summer activities are excellent ways to pass the time and make memories that will have your children longing for the next summer vacation before the current one has ended.