100 Ideas for Simple Summer Fun
What is your favorite childhood summer memory?
Do you have it in your mind? I'm guessing that it probably doesn't involve soccer camp or ballet camp or lego camp. I'm guessing it probably involves very little structure and likely some sticky popsicle fingers.
As our lives grow more and more hectic, we seem to grow increasingly afraid of free time. This is unfortunate because free time is often when the most creative, imaginative, and memorable moments happen. For the sake of our kids, we need to embrace those empty hours and days on our Summer calendar.
I am all for planning some activities, spending a week or two on vacation, and taking swim lessons or a sports camp, but seek some balance. Leave time for the slow, simple summer delights. These are the opportunities for play and they should be plentiful.
At the beginning of the month I shared some ideas for getting organized for the Summer. If you haven't read that post, I encourage you to pop over there before you continue.
Now here is where we get to those spaces you left for play and imagination.
For us this is often the afternoon time. Our kids roam freely from inside to outside in the backyard. Their time is filled with art and exploring, with popsicles and chasing soccer balls.
Below are some ideas, but feel free to change, add to, or adapt them. It is tricky to balance the line between over-planned and bored.
First, let's start with the essentials. In our house, summer means new swimsuits, a fresh box of chalk, and more.
Here are the essentials for Summer fun.
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*Sand / Water Toys - We Love Melissa + Doug's Creative Collections
*The Best Water Table for Young Kids
*Swim Suits (We love carter's swimsuits" target="_blank">Carter's brand suits for little kids)
*Sprinkler (My kids LOVE this spiral ball one)
*Sunscreen. There are a lot of choices and opinions. Regardless of your choice, I buy a bunch and keep them in various locations - the car, the diaper bag, the kitchen, with our outdoor supplies, and in the swim bag.
Once the essentials are ready, I start collecting some fun ideas.
Summer offers the opportunity for lots of extra time outside and daylight hours for play. During the Summer, I usually plan one table activity and one other initiation or activity for them a day.
This is NOT to say that you need to do this or that I have a NEW activity every day. Things like building outside, playdo, yoga, and other art experiences get repeated either several times in a week or once a week for several weeks. Do not feel like you need to reinvent the wheel every day and have completely new things for your kids to do. Repetition is good for practicing and mastering skills and for expanding ideas.
Boredom also breeds creativity and ideas.
If your days have a reliable structure, your house and outside spaces have open ended materials, and your children have space and time to play your summer will be fun.
Since I typically plan based on developmental areas, I have broken down our ideas into these categories.
1. Make your own book based on a favorite, like this simple Brown Bear Inspired book.
2. Send Postcards or Letters. Who doesn't love to get mail. Send some to a friend or family member you don't see very often or better yet, ask someone if they are willing to be a summer pen pal.
3. Discover a New Author. At the library load up on books by a single author and do an Author Study.
4. Make Your Own Alphabet Book. Some ideas? Things around your house. Things about you. Foods at the store. Animals at the zoo.
5. Learn a Nursery Rhyme or Poem and then call a grandparent to recite it.
6. Pop up a tent or teepee in your backyard and grab a stack of books for a cozy reading spot.
7. Practice and Perform a Play of a Favorite Story. 3 Little Pigs? Goldilocks and 3 Bears? Frozen?
8. Oversized Letter or Sight Word Memory Game
9. Watering an Alphabet Garden (from Toddler Approved)
10. Research about your favorite author online. Many have a website with activities, book extensions and more.
11. Try Yoga! We love this Train Themed Yoga routine and this yoga book.
12. Soccer Skills Clinic: Passing, Dribbling, Shooting
13. Baseball Skills Clinic: Throw, Catch, Hit
14. Bike Ride
15. Backyard Obstacle Course
16. Spiral Hopscotch
17. Play Movement Patterns. Make patterns with your body such as clap, stomp, clap, stomp, etc.
18. Make Kick the Can Art (101 Kids Activities book)
20. Relay Races
21. Make a DIY Sprinkler
22. Make a Balancing Course with rocks, logs, chairs, chalk lines, whatever you can find.
23. Go for a Walk - here are 12 fun ideas.
24. Have a Car Wash in your Driveway
25. Go Puddle Stomping on a Warm Rainy Day
26. Try Toddler Tennis
27. Timer Events. Use a timer to see how long you can do things like balance on one leg, spin in circles, or hop.
28. Create a Dance Routine to your favorite song.
29. Paint on the Biggest Piece of Paper you can find. Or better yet Feet Paint!
30. Play Toddler Color Hop or for older kids try hopping to numbers or letters.
31. Art Outside. Bring a basket of simple art supplies outside on a blanket or at the table.
32. Color. Here are 20+ Drawing Ideas to get you re-excited about crayons and markers.
33. Make a Collage. Here are 30+ Ideas for all types of collages.
34. Backyard Weaving with string and natural materials.
35. Beaded Garden Art (similar to these fairy wands).
36. Shaving Cream and Colored Ice Paint
37. Make stuffed animal marionettes (from 101 Kids Activities) & Put on a Show.
38. Paint with Rain: Kool Aid Powder + Rain
39. Try a New Art Material. Ideas? Clay, oil pastels, or bingo dabbers?
40. Do an observation drawing of something you find, such as this seashell observation invitation
41. Make Windchimes
42. Draw what you see in the Garden
43. Make a Fairy Garden
44. Collect and Paint seashells
45. Invite some friends over for a Painting Party
46. Paint on a Mirror Outside
47. Pollack Style Splatter Paint
48. Draw with Chalk in puddles or with spray bottles
49. Collect Flowers and make a Suncatcher
50. Create a Summer Time Mural with pictures and other collage materials
51. Sensory Color Mixing. You only need 2 common materials for this fun sensory activity.
52. Sensory Table Fun. Here are 5 of our favorite materials for the sensory table.
53. Make your own bug jar with these simple DIY Instructions and then go on a bug hunt.
54. Have a Mud Playdate.
56. Bug Scavenger Hunt
57. Plant and then observe and document changes once a week or once a month.
58. Make a Bird Feeder
59. Ice Block Fun : freeze things in a huge ice block and then hammer them out or just watch it melt.
60. Do a Sink or Float Experiment or series of experiments
61. Learn to Type Your Name on a keyboard or send a typed letter to someone.
62. Go on a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt for letters or numbers. Take pictures of each find and make a book.
63. Take Portraits of each other with a camera and then draw self portraits from the pictures.
64. Bring your blocks outside for a change of scenery.
65. Playdo. There are tons of fun materials to use with playdo, this is one of our favorites.
66. Build Ramps and then have races with cars or balls or whatever else you can think of. Measure to find out who went the furthest.
67. Use Loose Parts collected in nature to sort, make patterns, or work on other math concepts.
68. Make Your Own Binoculars and then Observe birds in the trees or clouds in the sky.
69. Build a Fort (This Fort Building Challenge has great ideas)
70. Make a Windsock and Graph windy and non-windy days
71. Backyard Map Safari (from No Time for Flashcards)
72. Rocks and Trucks Sensory Bin
73. Water and Mirrors
74. Soapy Sensory Foam
75. Taste Test of Fresh Farmer's Market Produce and Graph Results
76. Tinker! Find something your kids can take apart and tinker with: a flashlight, an old computer, whatever you can find.
77. Practice Your Photography by Taking Flower Photos (from The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book)
78. Make Patterns with things you find outside: Rocks, Sticks and Flower Petals or Colors of Chalk for example.
79. Go for a Counting Walk around the neighborhood, your house, or the backyard
80. Use a Rain Gauge to See How Much Rain Falls During a Storm (from The Nature Connection book)
81. Make Fresh Lemonade
82. Frozen Grapes
83. Watermelon on a Stick
84. Hot Dogs and Smores over a campfire
85. Frozen Banana snack
86. Homemade Popsicles
87. Watermelon Salsa (from The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book)
88. Try a New Smoothie recipe
89. Make Pattern Veggie or Fruit Kabobs
90. Try Cooking Food from a Different Culture : for example, Chinese Food
91. Send some surprise mail. Stickers perhaps?
92. Deliver a box a popsicles to some friends
93. Sort through clothes or toys and drop off box at Goodwill.
94. Leave chalk messages for your neighbors.
95. Make a mobile for a new baby and deliver.
96. Invite a friend to meet you for a picnic and pack each other a surprise lunch.
97. Greet your mail carrier with a glass of cool lemonade or bottle of water.
98. Write a Letter (or Draw a Picture) to Someone about why you think they are great.
99. Pick Up Litter in Your Neighborhood or at the Park.
100. Create Treasure Scavenger Hunts for Your Sibling or Friend.
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