Safe Summer Fun
Looking for summer activities for kids? Many of us are feeling a sense of freedom. After months of quarantine due to Covid-19, summer's here, the weather is warmer, and we're ready for fun!
We're still cautious, though. And with many summer camps, parks, and public pools still closed, the question on many parenting minds is: "How am I going to keep the kids entertained all summer?"
Fortunately, we have some recommendations. From toddlers to older kids, there are many ways to have fun this summer.
Home Made Sidewalk Chalk Paint
Making your own sidewalk chalk paint couldn't be easier. Simply mix corn starch and water in a one to one ratio - so for a large amount use 3 cups corn starch and 3 cups water. Divide into small plastic containers and add drops of food coloring to the desired intensity, and that's it! We do recommend using containers with airtight covers to store the paints and prevent spilling. Give each child a 1" paint brush and let them be creative with these non-toxic, environmentally friendly sidewalk chalk paints.
Running through a sprinkler on a hot summer day was the height of summer fun in my neighborhood growing up. Any type will do - ours was the kind that sprayed in a wide arc and rotated back and forth so you could jump through it or just stand and wait for it to come back around.
For younger kids a great activity is outdoor water play. All you need are some different sized plastic cups, measuring cups, containers, and a big bowl or bucket. Toddlers and pre-schoolers can be entertained for a long time filling and pouring water from container to container. Add a few ice cubes for a super refreshing splash of cold water. It's best if they are dressed in a swimsuit or clothes you don't mind getting wet for this one.
Nature Scavenger Hunt
Compile a list of things found in nature, from a pink flower to an orange butterfly. To keep everyone safe, including the flora and fauna, they can just document their sighting. No need to bring that monarch butterfly home, a simple check mark will do!
You may not feel ready to hook up the camper and head out to a national park for some outdoor adventure. But kids can have loads of fun pitching a tent in the backyard. Younger ones might just spend a few hours in the daylight, reading books, playing games, eating a snack. Older kids will find sleeping out in the backyard an adventure. If you have a fire pit or grill and can make S'mores, all the better!
Some summer days are just made for this one. Those days when the sky is full of big puffy clouds are perfect for spreading a blanket in the yard, lying down and gazing up. What looks like a lion to one of us, is a dragon to another.
Backyard Obstacle Course
If your kids are like mine, they love to watch American Ninja Warriors. You can create a course for kids right in your own backyard. No need to purchase an expensive kit online, just use items you have around the house and garage to lay out challenging stations for them to climb over, hop through, or shimmy under. You can find lots of ideas here on Pinterest.
Rainy Day Activities
Sometimes it's too rainy for outdoor fun. Or too hot to be out in the sun. So here are some fun indoor activity ideas.
Make Some Oobleck
Oobleck is what scientists call a non-newtonian fluid. That means it acts like a liquid when being poured, but like a solid when force is applied. Ketchup is probably the best known of these fluid. When you try to force it out of the bottle by shaking - it stops pouring.
Kids can have loads of fun making Oobleck with the same two ingredients as our sidewalk chalk paint recipe above. Take 1 cup water and slowly add 1.5 to 2 cups corn starch, stirring gently with a spoon. You'll soon want to let your child mix the last bits of corn starch with their hands as the Oobleck begins to solidify. If you want to add color, it's best to mix the food coloring in with the water before mixing with the corn starch. Beware - some color may come off on their hands, but will wash and wear off fairly easily.
Arts & Crafts
Pull together a variety of age-appropriate household items and store-bought supplies such as: popsicle sticks, colored tissue paper, glue sticks, construction paper, washable markers, coloring pages, pipe cleaners, pompoms, stickers.
Give minimal instructions and see what they come up with - let their creativity surprise you! Ask them to create their favorite animal, or a beloved family member - whatever you think will unleash their artistic abilities.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
This requires some advance planning, but is great for rainy days and can keep kids busy for quite a while. Prepare a list of items that they need to find around the house. For younger kids this can be as simple as "Find a picture of yourself." For older kids the clues can be more mysterious, like "Find an object that can be used for connecting two things". Be as creative as you want with this one.
For this one you just need a clip board or magazine (for a writing surface), paper, and pencil. The idea is they need to go around the house and find objects that start with a certain letter. So, you can have them find one item per letter, or 5 items, or even 10. This is good for little ones learning phonics and reading.
Are We Ready for Travel?
Whether you are planning a day trip, or thinking about an overnight vacation - where to go depends on your region and comfort level. Distancing and mask-wearing is recommended virtually everywhere, so here are some ideas for fun day trips this summer.
Spend the Day at the Beach
Whether you live near the ocean, a lake, or even a pond - there's not much better than a summer day by the water. And it's often easier to distance from others. Rules and regulations vary, of course, so check those out ahead of time.
Safe Bike Ride
The covid quarantine, and working from home means many places have substantially reduced traffic. This means that for many, family bike rides are easier than ever. Formerly congested roads are now much more navigable for younger bike riders. As always, follow the rules of the road and wear a helmet!
If backyard camping is too tame, and you have the equipment, a real camping trip could be just the ticket. Many states are starting to reopen parks and recreational areas. Staying in your own tent, camper, or RV can feel more comfortable and safe. Find an open campground at the National Park Service website.
Outdoor Family Games
Kids love outdoor games - and sometimes we need a trip to the local park or other open area to have enough space. And with some care, a couple of families can meet up for fun, maintain enough distance, and have loads of fun. One game that's particularly suited to this is Simon Says. There's no contact, and even younger children can play.
Summer Safety Tips
We wish you a wonderfully fun and safe summer. And for more about summer safety, read our blog post Summer Safety Tips.