We are about half way through summer break and at this point you may be feeling like your reserve of creativity is running dry as you work to think of activities to do with your kids each day. The last thing we want to hear over and over again is “I’m bored”, especially when we know that they have more than enough toys to play with and we don’t want them posted in front of electronics all summer either. Have no fear, some additional creativity is here! Whether you are with your child each day this summer, or primarily on weekends due to work or summer camps, here are some non-electronic ideas to get your creativity going as you plan activities with your kids. These ideas are just starters, feel free to explore them with your children and have them develop their own ideas and add them to the list!
- Yard sale bingo. You can find a wide range of blank bingo cards online and then have your kids fill in the blanks with things they might find at a yard sale such as a VHS or DVD copy of a certain movie or a blue stuffed animal. Next step, go yard sale-ing. Your kids can use stickers or an x marks the spot with a crayon to check off their boxes and maybe even win a $1 yard sale find for the first one to be able to call “Bingo!” Depending on the difficulty of the bingo board, this could even take multiple weekend visits to yard sales to complete which only builds that competitive spirit.
- Backyard water wars. For about $6 you can purchase an assortment of small water guns and water balloons, leading to an afternoon of fun in the sun. Choose teams or have it be every person for themselves, water wars can increase strategic thinking and problem solving while also helping with those 90 degree days this summer
- Explore local parks. A quick google search of your area can surprise you with how many parks may be close to your home. Some are small, with just a few benches and a walking path and some have large play grounds which can mean hours of fun. Make a challenge with your family to see how many parks you think you can discover and visit before school starts back and think of the stories of adventure that your child will be able to share at the next show and tell.
- Family talent show. Let those creative juices flow as you plan a family talent show. Each member of your family (including extended family and friends if you choose) can identify, practice and then perform in your family talent show. Enjoy writing songs? Maybe you like to dance or want to learn how to juggle. All of these are great ideas that your child can work on to perform as part of this activity. If you really want to make it an event, create advertisement posters that you place around your home and make a buffet of snacks for the “audience”. These are the nights that childhood memories are made of!
- Make your own nature journal. As you work to engage your child more in the outside world rather than the pull of the electronics, exploring nature is a great way to gain insight into the world around them, have a fun and entertaining way to spend an afternoon (or several) outdoors as well as increase learning right in your own backyard. Once they have made their nature journal, you and your kids can take walks around the neighborhood, take the journal with you to new parks or even spend some independent time exploring your backyard and then coming back to share what you find.
- Become a dollar store inventor! Here is the challenge: you and your kids only have $5 each (or any amount of your choice) to find items to create a brand new invention once home. Specify a time limit for choosing at the store and then once home give ample time to think, create and tweak their new inventions. Sharing what their invention can do is part of the fun as well! Whether it be a marble collection device or a tote bag made from a t-shirt… this budget friendly adventure helps your child think outside of the box and can build self esteem as they share their new creations.
- Host a Chopped Jr. style cooking competition. Depending on the age of your child, let them pick random or silly ingredients and then as a family create a wild and wacky meal together. You can create and cook while being timed like they do in the show or if you prefer to take it easy you can have your end goal be the most creative or different meal than what you usually make. Your kids will have fun developing names for their new menu while also beginning to learn cooking skills and their way around the kitchen.
- Be mad scientists. Did you know that you can do simple and exciting science experiments with things you most likely already have at home? Whether it be making your own rock candy or blowing up a balloon with air from a 2 liter bottle, you and your kids will have hours of fun researching ideas, finding the items and then watching the magic of science happen right before your eyes!
- Create a fort city. Now you may be asking yourself what to do if it rains and these outdoor activities aren’t possible. First, as long as it isn’t storming feel free to do your backyard water war in the rain! If you do want to stay dry, put together any cardboard, sheets, pillows and other items that you can to create a fort city in your home. Your kids can name their city, talk about rules and what their town will be like if they really lived there and play as townspeople of their new village. If they do want to watch a movie or use electronics, this is a good compromise in giving them some screen time once they have created their fort village…maybe even in the newly built “movie theater”.
- Discover your local library. Many local libraries have free summer reading programs where your children can earn prizes for reading throughout the summer. Many also have free story times, activities and ways for your children to spend time with other kids without costing any extra money and while enhancing their learning. While you are at it, help your children learn how to find books at the library, make a weekly routine of checking out new books and make an activity of you and your children writing your own stories. You can even create books with decorated covers and illustrations. Summer can be a time when kids lose a lot of the learning from the previous school year, but a love of the library can help keep that learning fresh in their minds.
Now that you have a full tool kit of creative ideas to try with your kids, go get started! Feel free to share with friends and family and make these adventures a community event with local kids from school or your neighborhood. Have fun, be creative and enjoy the rest of the summer with your kids!