The countdown’s over and school is a thing of the past – at least for the next month or so! The days stretch before you filled with little voices saying, “Where’s my iPad” or “Mom, I’m soooo bored!” Summer madness has set in and so has the challenge to fill your kids’ days with reasonably meaningful activities to keep ‘em busy.
Remember when you were a kid – riding your bike, splashing in your little wading pool, running through the sprinkler and playing hopscotch on the sidewalk? Unless you’re a millennial, chances are that TV and really basic video games like Pong and Mario were the only kind of technology available.
You might have watched a kid's video, but then got bored because it was so passive and you needed something else to engage your senses. So you were outside a lot more often than you were sitting on your rear in front of the Tube.
Outside vs. Technology
Most of the following activities can be enjoyed for hours without your direct supervision – in fact, the more you encourage them to do them on their own with a minimum of “help” from you (depending on their ages), the more it will build their self-esteem and the more fun they’ll have.
And better yet, they don’t require a whole lot more than a few props, a good sunscreen and lots of imagination and enthusiasm!
So, put away the iPads for a few hours and engage them in some creative and really fun indoor and outdoor activities. Make the words “Use Your Imaginations” your new summer mantra!
10 Activities to Keep ‘Em Busy
- Build a tent – all you need is a couple of old sheets, a blanket for the ground, a couple of chairs and let them figure out how to build their own. Sitting inside the tent as light plays on the sheet above creates a mystical, magical experience that stimulates the imagination and promotes a feeling of safety. Sneak a couple of peanut butter sandwiches into the tent and it’s instant nirvana.
- Back Yard Car Wash – let them put on their bathing suits and wash their bikes, trikes, dolls and toys. Give them enough old towels that they can dry their things without worrying about Mom getting upset about using the good towels. Better yet, give them each a magic cloth of their own that they can use all summer long.
- Make Ice Cream - if you haven’t got one, for around $50 you and an ice cream maker can make your family happy all summer long. And the best part is that YOU control what goes into it and can forget all the unpronounceable ingredients that are the preservatives, corn syrups, etc. that are best left out of their diets.
- Masking Tape Bracelets – turn masking tape inside out and put it around their wrist or arm and send them on a scavenger hunt in your own back yard or, even better, on a walk with you. Who can find the most colorful flower petals, different kinds of grasses, dead bugs, small pebbles, etc.?
- Dress Up – still a big deal for kids of all ages and both sexes. Ask your neighbors to donate to a Dress Up Box that is available to every family that donates dresses, sashes, old men’s dress shirts, tights, shoes, jewelry, feather, boas and scarves. Keep it in a designated spot in some ones’ garage and for the sake of good neighborly relations keep a list of who checks it out. Encourage group fashion shows, pirate’s parties, etc. – let their imaginations run wild!
- Sidewalk Painting with Water – grab those water pistols/guns that you put up on the shelf because they got carried away with squirting each other and have them squirt the sidewalk or driveway instead. Who can paint a picture before the water dries?
- Drip, Drip, Drip …Splash! – A great group activity that can include kids and adults from 2 to 92. Whoever takes part has to be prepared to get WET ! Everyone sits around on the grass in a circle and the person who’s It walks around and sprinkles water from a soft cup on the heads of the other players until he or she decides who should chase them around the outside of the circle back to that person’s spot. Have a bucket of water nearby to refill the cup!
- Driveway Race Track – draw lines fairly widely apart from the top to the bottom of your driveway – shorter or longer depending on the kids’ ages – with a start line at the top and finish line at the bottom. Collect all the Matchbox, Hot Wheels and other cars you can find and race them! Make racing really special with a checkered flag and rules…
- Hop Scotch - still one of the most popular chalk games ever! Outside of a marker for each player, you don’t need anything else to play it, except for a few rules. Good for dexterity, balance and keeping a single child happily occupied for hours.
- Sock Puppets – Take plain socks of all colors and sizes and stuff them with cotton batting. Draw on faces, sew on some yarn for hair and bob’s your uncle. Or if you are really into creating a sock puppet masterpiece, watch this video. Create a stage out of cardboard boxes and let the kids put on their own Punch and Judy Shows.
Summer madness is going to happen one way or the other – but you CAN turn it into Crazy Good rather than Tear Your Hair Out Bad with a minimum of effort.
The best part is that these activities can be enjoyed together with the whole family - not just the kids!
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