The official start of summer has come and gone, and the days are passing steadily. It seems to be about this time every year that the kids are over the “I can’t wait for summer vacation!” excitement and have moved quickly into the “Mom, I’m bored!” blues. Here are some ideas to help you entertain the kids, or help the kids entertain themselves, at little or no cost.
1. Let them host their own yard sale of unused toys, books and clothing. They can use the money to buy a new game.
2. Help them set up a lemonade stand and sell to the neighbors.
3. Offer them a reading challenge… X amount of dollars (or cents) for every book they read this summer.
4. Get out the sprinkler and let the kids have some good old fashioned – wet! – fun.
5. Make homemade ice cream.
6. Get crafty. They can draw, paint, craft with homemade clay or scrapbook. There are hundreds of patterns and ideas online and many things can be made from items you’d normally throw in the trash.
7. Start a garden. Give each child their own plant to monitor and let them see how exciting it is to watch a living thing grow.
8. Encourage them to volunteer. They can help an elderly neighbor with yard work or errands, babysit a harried mother’s younger child, or offer to walk a shut-ins dog. They’ll not only feel good, they’ll begin to learn a lifelong lesson of generosity.
9. Teach them to cook. They’ll need to know someday and cooking offers a great relief from boredom.
10. If it’s raining outside, create some indoor fun by building a fort (a blanket draped over a card table or a couple of chairs), playing hide and seek, or holding a Monopoly marathon.
11. Find some added chores they can do such as cleaning out the garage, organizing their closet, washing the car, etc.
12. Hold a backyard Bible club with games, prizes, Bible stories, etc.
13. Organize a kid’s block party. Invite all the kids in the neighborhood (and some parents) to bring a treat and a game to share. Play music and have some fun.
14. Create your own carnival games. A board with holes can become a bean bag toss. A board with balloons can become a dart board. Floating toys in a small tub with numbers on the bottom can become a duck race. Use your imagination and creativity.
15. Spend some time outdoors. There are dozens of activities to choose from in your own backyard such as skateboarding, bike riding, rollerblading, playing Frisbee, softball, etc.
16. Go for a hike or a family bike ride.
17. Play hopscotch (if you remember how) or jump rope.
18. Print several coloring sheets of the computer and make your own coloring book.
19. Hold a neighborhood talent contest and let the kids perform for their parents.
20. Put on a play or skit complete with costumes and music.
21. Find a bunch of old clothes, vintage things work really well, and create a “dress-up” box. Gloves, hats, shoes, pants, dresses, vests, ties, etc. can create a full summer of creative play.
22. Rediscover the craft of paper mache to make a simple piñata. Mix equal amounts of white glue or flour with water and coat strips of newspaper. Cover a blown-up balloon with the strips, leaving a small section uncovered until the paper dries. When it’s dry, pop the balloon and remove the balloon. Fill the piñata with small pieces of candy, and cover the hole with paper mache. Decorate with bright paints when dry.
23. Encourage your kids to become fans of a neighborhood softball team. They can go to all their games, get to know the players and cheer for their home team to win.
24. Play white elephant bingo. Pick up an inexpensive Bingo game from the dollar store, or have the kids make one. Use yard sale items or gag gifts for prizes. Invite other kids from the neighborhood or whole families to play.
25. Visit a different “kids eat free” restaurant for lunch each week.
26. Find a free concert in the park or at a local church featuring a group the kids would enjoy.
27. Encourage the kids to write their own stories and poems, and publish a book. They can make copies and bind them for gifts to grandparents, friends and other family members.
28. Create a neighborhood activity swap with other parents. Each week one parent is responsible for planning an activity or outing for all the kids in the group, keeping in mind cost, age level and abilities.
29. Host a weekly movie day and let all the kids gather at your house to watch videos and eat popcorn.
30. Go fishing. Even if you think you can’t bait a hook, you can take the kids to a lake and spend some time dropping in a line – with a fake worm on the end! It’s not about what you catch – though kids love to catch fish – it’s about being together and enjoying the warm air and nature.
Some of these activities are age dependent or need supervision. Others are things the kids can do on their own. But the idea is to find a variety of activities to keep the kids busy and active during the long weeks of summer, if nothing more than in an effort to maintain your own sanity until school starts again!
Space Crafts for Kids
Shapes cut out of different colors of construction paper
Solid piece of black construction paper
Silver star stickers
Using your black piece of construction paper as a background lay out your shapes to create a one of a kind space ship. Once you have the design chosen use your glue stick to glue it into place. Next place the silver star stickers all around the shape ship.
Star’s On the Wall
Toilet Paper Roll
Black Construction Paper
Push Pin or Safety Pin
Tape a piece of black construction paper on to one end of the toilet paper tube. Using your pin pock small holes in the black paper. Place the other end of the tube onto your flash light and shine it on the wall. This will make your wall look like the star filled sky.
Moon Rocks Hunt
Glow in the dark Paint
Large sized rocks (about the size of a child’s palm)
Lay out your newspaper to protect the table from any paint. Next paint your rocks in the glow in the dark paint. Be sure to cover the whole rock in the paint. Set the rocks under a lamp to charge the paint up for about a half hour before you begin. Once it is dark outside. Mom, hide these rocks outside (in the backyard) and let your children enjoy going on a moon rock hunt. (For children who are not sure of the dark, be sure to send them on their hunt with a flash light.)
Space Activity for Kids
Moon Walking Shoes
Rubber Bands or String
Tie thick sponges to the bottom of your child’s shoes. This will give your child the feeling of walking on the moon.
Great Space Books for Kids
There’s No Place Like Space : All About Our Solar System (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)
by TISH RABE
Go on a whirlwind tour of our solar system, with a few constellations thrown in for good measure. Cat in the Hat (along with beloved Thing One and Thing Two) straps on his space suit and rhymes his way among the nine planets, presenting important facts along the way. Where else could your preschooler learn phonics and astronomy at same time?
The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System (Magic School Bus)
by Joanna Cole, Bruce Degen
This latest expedition, on which the energetic Miss Frizzle offers a tour of the planets, should not be missed. When a closed planetarium disappoints her students on a class trip, the likable teacher saves the day. She manages to launch her rickety school bus into space and steers it around the solar system, visiting the moon, the sun, Mercury, Venus and Mars before an asteroid knocks out one of the taillights. When Miss Frizzle leaves the bus to investigate, she gets lost in space, and the students visit the outer planets without her. They reconnect with her eventually, and the group ends up back in the classroom, making a chart and a mobile based on their discoveries.
Stanley in Space (Flat Stanley)
by Jeff Brown, Scott Nash
When the residents of a far-distant planet send a message to Earth asking for someone to meet with them, the President of the United States asks Stanley Lambchop, an all-American boy, to be his ambassador.