This summer likely looks much different than what families had originally planned, with social distancing and the cancellation of many summer camps and programs. Parents are probably feeling a mixture of emotions as we move through it. Relief that school is out, but pressure to keep their children active and engaged after months of distance learning that may have been challenging.
While it’s important for kids to continue exercising their brains, it doesn’t mean that they need to sit at the kitchen table all summer doing math problems! There are ways to incorporate learning and exercise into simple activities. Here’s how:
Summer Ideas to Keep Kids Active & Engaged
- Go Geocaching. This is referred to as the “world’s largest treasure hunt.” It involves looking for hidden caches in a specific geographical area using an app on a phone. Some caches even contain hidden trinkets to keep! Here’s an example of one to get started.
- Create a backyard camping experience. Make s’mores, campfire meals, and even sleep in a tent if that’s up your family’s alley.
- Pack a picnic and head to the park. Eat lunch at your local park and then enjoy a hike as a family. This is a great way to get out of the house while also maintaining social distance.
- Get gardening. Let your kids help in the garden. Teach them about caring for flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables.
- Create a kid–friendly backyard obstacle course. It doesn’t have to be fancy or ninja warrior-worthy! Simple things you have around the house will work. Or, have your kids create their own the “ground is lava” course.
- Make nature impressions. Have your kids collect various items from nature, such as sticks, leaves, and rocks. Then ask them to create impressions of them on playdoh. They can observe different textures and patterns of the imprints. You could even find a simple recipe to make homemade playdoh.
- Create a boredom jar. Have your kids think of things they enjoy doing at home and write them down on popsicle sticks or pieces of paper. Put them in a jar. Then, when they say they’re bored, prompt them to randomly choose something from the boredom jar.
- Check in with the library. See if your local brand is doing a summer reading challenge.
- Make simple recipes. Help kids learn in the kitchen by making simple recipes. English muffin pizzas are a great option for this! Maybe they could even pick out some vegetables to put on their pizza from your garden. Or double a recipe to help them brush up on their math skills.
- Enjoy virtual museum tours. Many museums around the world are currently offering free, virtual tours. Here are a few to check out: Boston Children’s Museum; The Ronald Dahl Museum and Story Centre, which also offers activities to try at home; The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History; The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers live web cam videos of some of their underwater creatures! The penguins are particularly adorable.
- Get crafty. Provide materials for simple arts and crafts so that they can create independently while parents are working. Here are some ideas:
- Brown paper bag puppets: Provide children with brown paper lunch bags, some markers, crayons, or paint, and some embellishment items like buttons, googly eyes, stickers, etc. They can create their own puppets and even put on a puppet show with their finished masterpieces!
- Pipe cleaners creations: Pipe cleaners are a versatile craft item. Here’s a great site with craft ideas using pipe cleaners:
- Popsicle stick crafts: Popsicle sticks are another craft material that can be used in many different ways. Check out these fun ideas!
- Recycled household items: They can be very handy when crafting. Here are some cute and easy crafts using recycled materials:
The above summer ideas can help kids keep their brains active and hopefully help avoid some of the inevitable boredom. Because this year has been a tough one, I also recommend checking in with your kids on a regular basis to help them process their emotions. Ask them things like, “What’s hard for you right now?” Or, “Tell me some words that describe how your summer break is going.” Questions like these can help identify how they’re feeling and start some good conversations to work through it.
Similarly, I suggest parents try to extend themselves some grace! We’re living through a situation that we’ve never encountered before and trying to balance additional responsibilities, like teaching and being a summer camp counselor.