Top 20 things to do with the kids this summer!
Summer is a great time of year, especially if you live in the north. It’s a chance to be free from thick clothing and the hectic schedule that takes place during the school year.
It’s also a chance for parents to do a ton of fun things with their kids after work and on weekends. It’s an exercise in bonding that is natural and will ideally create happy memories for your kids and with these suggestions; they don’t take a lot of planning or cost money.
What To Do With The Kids has assembled a list of 20 fun things that parents can do with their kids.
1. Go to the beach
It may seem like a lot of trouble but not if you keep it simple. Beach towel, a few beach toys and lots of sun screen is all you really need. You can also bring folding chairs and a sun umbrella as well. Bring a lunch or snacks along with a few cold drinks. These can easily fit inside a couple of cloth bags with an ice pack if you don’t have a cooler. If you have a car, leave the cooler and valuables in the car. This way, you’ll have no problem leaving stuff on the beach while you play with the kids in the water. Keep in mind that even if there are lifeguards, you need to stay very close to your kids. The younger they are, the closer you are! Sun screen is very important. Buy the highest UV protection you can and don’t be afraid to pay a few dollars more for the good stuff. Remember to get the sand out of the bathing suits before you start going home.
2. Mini golf
As far as we are concerned, mini-golf should be an Olympic event. It’s a great activity that anyone can play. In fact, the worst you are the more fun it is. We like playing in the early evening when it starts getting dark and cooler.
Bowling is another “potential” Olympic event that anyone can play. Most bowling alleys have lanes with “bumpers” that block the gutters so the kids are almost guaranteed to hit some pins. It’s also a great place to be on a really hot day because bowlers hate to sweat so you know the air conditioning will be just right.
4. Play catch
It’s the one thing that movies like to use as the only activity dad never did with the hero of the story but it doesn’t have to be forced or organized, it can be spontaneous. Most people think of playing catch involves a baseball glove and a ball but there are a lot more items you can use. Try a football, beach ball, tennis ball or the classic Frisbee. There are also variations you can use like drawing a few circles on the ground in chalk and try to bounce the ball inside it when sending it to the other person. If they are able to, use a football and a Frisbee at the same time. Just be careful how you throw it.
5. Explore your city
A lot of people grow up in a city and never take in the sites so why not take the kids and explore? Most downtowns have a lot of old stores with a lot of unique things in them and some may even have some history to them. Explore different parks or check online for festivals and events. Become a tourist in your own town by taking a tour bus. You may just discover things about your home town that you never knew.
Old fishing rods, hooks and worms are all you need to spend time by the water. There are a lot of options you can buy but if you go to a garage sale, there’s a good chance you’ll find everything you need for a few dollars. You might also need a fishing license in your area so do a little research. Since you’re near water, you need to stay very close to the kids and you will need to put the worm on the hook for them. Use a lot of sun screen, give them a hat, pack a snack and you’re ready to go. Find out where the best fishing spots are for kids but be prepared to cut it short. Some kids might not find it exciting so don’t force them to stay. Plan on going for a short time and then make it longer the more you go. While you’re waiting for the fish to nibble, tell them about how people who fish like to make up stories about “big one that got away” and come up with your own. Catch and release is great but if you happen to catch something big and you know how to properly prepare and cook them, bring them home as a special treat.
Biking is a great activity for getting outside; exercising and exploring new areas but as we’ve written in a past blog, teach your kids the rules of the road or don’t take them out! Teach them hand signals and what to do at a stop sign. In case you’ve forgotten, a stop sign does not mean to slow down, make eye contact with a car driver and continue through. Look online for local bike paths, pack a picnic or snack, put on some sun screen and make sure those helmets are on right. Start with short trips and then make them longer as they get older. Remember, they may have no problem biking there but it’s biking back that can be tricky.
Learning to swim is something that every parent should have their kids do at an early age. It’s a skill they will never forget and will save their lives. The younger they are, the closer you must be to them. This must also be the rule at the beach, a public pool or even in a small wading pool in your backyard. Never leave them alone. If you can, bring plastic balls or Frisbee to play in the water since kids love to make diving catches. Pool noodles, boogie boards and beach balls are great fun but again; don’t forget to bring the sunscreen.
Hiking is another great activity that should be short to introduce them and gradually increased as they like. Start with simple and easy trails, wear appropriate shoes and clothing, bug spray and sunscreen and even pack a lunch or snack. Water is very important if you plan on being out most of the day and make sure you know where you are going before you leave. You don’t want to share the joys of being found with a search party do you?
10. Backyard party
Why not host a party just for the heck of it? Make up a reason such as celebrating International Pickle Day or just a good ole fashion summer party. Barbeque some hotdogs and burgers, make some potato salad, coleslaw and have a few games. It doesn’t have to be fancy or really organized. It’s just a chance to get a bunch of people together to just hang out.
11. Backyard camping
Before you start to invest in thousands of dollars in tents, stoves, sleeping bags and bear repellent, why not try camping in the backyard with the kids? You don’t even need a real tent. Have the kids make one out of a tarp or old blankets. If they don’t like it, they can just come in. Just make sure you’re with them all night just to keep them safe and from getting into trouble. If they like it, they may want to do some real camping later and then you can spend thousands of dollars on everything you need!
12. Fly a kite
If you can find an open space free of power lines and gopher holes, you can fly a kite. Start with the inexpensive ones found at the department store and try it out. If the kids like it, you may want to invest in a really nice kite and watch them perform acrobatics in the sky.
Unfortunately, not every town or city allows campfires; especially open ones that are basically a hole in the ground surrounded by rocks. If your city does allow them, invest in a metal, enclosed one. These are designed to keep the fire from getting out of control and the doors help keep the kids away from the flames. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and then close the door and enjoy the view. Just remember to keep a bucket of water and some sand handy and make sure the entire fire is out before you go to bed.
14. Sidewalk/driveway chalk drawing
Chalk comes in a lot of colors and is rather inexpensive. The important thing to keep in mind is where the kids draw. It has to be a safe area that is free of any traffic since the little ones will be practically lying down as they create their masterpieces. If you’re in a school playground or empty parking lot, you can also draw a race track that the kids can go through on their bikes, skateboard or roller skates. Add a little color to your area and don’t be afraid to get down with them and let your inner Picasso come out.
15. Outdoor movie
Watching a movie outdoors and under the stars is a great way to spend an evening. Projectors can be borrowed from schools or offices and a large white bed sheet makes for a great screen. Hook the projector up to your laptop and set up a few speakers. Make some popcorn, bring out the patio chairs and enjoy.
16. Container planting
If you’re a gardener, you already know how much fun it can be but for the rest of us, we don’t have the motivation to take it to that level. That’s why container plants are great. Check out local garage sales for great deals on different size planters. They may need a coat of paint but as long as they’re not broken, they’ll work fine. Buy a bag of soil and select a few flowers and even vegetables to grow. Check online or at your local garden center to see what plants grow well in containers in your area. Find a good spot for the containers but if you need to, they can be easily moved somewhere else. Have the kids water it regularly and maybe record how it’s growing in a diary. Fruit and vegetable plants are possible so that at the end of the growing season the kids could actually eat what they’ve grown.
A picnic is a rather simple way to have lunch but is much more than just your sandwich in a brown bag. Along with the sandwiches you can have salads, a veggie platter, assorted fruits and all types of drinks. Place the food in a cooler with an ice pack, pack some plates, utensils and cups, bring a blanket to lie on and you’re set. You can also bring a plastic table cover to use if you find a picnic table. The secret is to find someplace that has a soft patch of ground that you can enjoy such as a park, the beach or along a trail. Make sure to take all your garbage home and don’t leave any food for the animals.
18. Photo essay
A photo essay is just a fancy way to get kids to take photos with their phones. In the old days we used something called a camera but since smartphones are here, they’ll work just fine. Have the kids document a trip or an outing such as a day at the beach or to the zoo. Ask them to take photos of your arrival and the different things they see. When they arrive home, they can upload the photos to their computer and create a slide show. The older kids may be able to incorporate video and background music as well. Once done, save a copy in a safe place and in a few years, you can remind them of how much fun they had that day.
19. Water slide
On a hot day, there’s nothing like gliding across your lawn on your own personal water slide. Sheets of plastic are available at your local hardware store and try to find a safe place to lay it down, preferably with a bit of a slope and no rocks. Visit our activities page at What To Do With The Kids to find out how to make a water slide that could be the envy of the neighborhood.
20. Hanging out
Why not play a board game outside, read a book together or just sit and talk with the kids. The young ones might get bored but the older ones may just enjoy spending time with you and that’s what we are all about. Make it spontaneous. Find a shady spot, bring out some toys, games or crafts and spend some time together while the weather is nice. It can result in the type of memories you want your kids to have.
What To Do With The Kids is the website that adults go to when they want to know what to do with their kids. The site features games, crafts, activities, downloads, a resource section for parents and much more. Visit www.whattodowiththekids.com or visit one of our local Facebook pages to find kid and family-friendly things to do in your area.