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Entertaining Active Kids During the Summer

Updated on June 3, 2016
Just a few more days until summer break.
Just a few more days until summer break.

School is Out for the Summer

School is out and everyone needs the rest. Parents, teachers, and kids are all exhausted. Parents are tired of waking their kids early, rushing them to be on time, checking clothing for dress code violations, making lunches, and checking homework. Kids are tired of getting up early, listening to their parents rant about the importance of being on time, and doing homework. Teachers are just plain tired.

Time for teachers to get some rest. Now the teachers will go on well-deserved vacations, see wonderful sites, and enjoy activities that do not have to be written in a lesson plan and correlated to some bench-mark test.

Time for students to sleep as late as they want, wake to a long day of running barefoot through the neighborhood, playing hard, getting sweaty, and coming home sometime close to dark.

Parents will wake at their usual time, enjoy the peace and quiet while leisurely sipping their coffee before heading off to a worry-free day at work with confidence their children will entertain themselves while obeying all the rules.

If this is how you envision your summer, you're dreaming.

Reality Check

Now that you're awake from that beautiful dream, let's get down to reality. The kids sleeping late part of the dream might come true, but the rest it? Not a chance. Although the house is filled to capacity with toys, electronic devices, games, and gadgets, the child will have 'nothing to do.' Any suggestion made by the parent will be answered with a deep analytical evaluation which usually sounds something like, "Boring."

What should a parent do? It is impossible to work and entertain kids all summer. It is not safe for kids to run the streets anymore. Constant supervision is not practical. How can a parent supervise, entertain, and nurture their kids for the summer?

Barter System

Notice I said 'barter' not 'cash'. Barter for whatever privileges the child is requesting. Set up a routine--not schedule--to encourage your child to do activities which will earn privileges. Once the number of activities have been reached, the privilege will be granted.

Let's look at a sample chart and then we'll discuss each activity.

Sample Barter Chart

3Rs (running, riding, romping)
4 hours
Creative Play
8 hours
Fun Experiments
8 hours
Technology Play
5 hours
4 hours
4 hours

3Rs (Running, Riding, Romping)

Yes, they do this naturally. Placing natural play on the chart allows the child to feel more comfortable with the other activities.

Children need exercise. What better way to get it than running with a friend, riding a bike, or romping with a brother? However, it is summer and heat strokes are not unusual in children. Parents need to be vigilant on how hot their children get while playing. This type of play is best done in the morning or evening.

Let them use that energy.
Let them use that energy.

Creative Play

Although the kids don't need to know; creative play stimulates the body and the mind. It requires the child to make his own toy before enjoying the play. Cardboard boxes can deliver an entire day of fun. What can you make with a cardboard box?

  • A nifty car for driving around the house.
  • A firetruck to put out fires around the house.
  • A stove for cooking.
  • A puppet stage for entertaining others.
  • A mailbox.
  • A refrigerator.
  • Let them use their imagination. They will think of other things to create with a lowly cardboard box.

Lego bird perch
Lego bird perch
You just can't beat ice cream made in a bag.
You just can't beat ice cream made in a bag.

Fun Experiments

There are many experiments that can be performed with objects around the house. Simple things like vinegar, baking soda, water, cooking oil, and sugar can become fun and exciting learning tools.

  • With vinegar, baking soda, water, and gummy worms, one an make dancing worms.
  • Using water, oil, food coloring, and Alka-Seltzer, a lava lamp can be created and keep a kid entertained for hours.
  • Water, sugar, and food coloring can create old fashioned rock candy. Kids have fun making and eating this yummy experiment.
  • With milk, sugar, and two sizes of freezer bags, kids can make their own individual ice cream.
  • Water, borax, glue, and food coloring make 'flubber' which will provide hours of fun.

There are many experiments that kids can do. Pinterest is a great resource for more information on these and other experiments

"This site if fun.  Don't tell my parents  They think it's educational."
"This site if fun. Don't tell my parents They think it's educational."

Technology Play

Technology is a double-edged sword. Yes, it can be harmful and parents must monitor the sites and games their children visit. Predators can reach children through any device that uses the internet. Before allowing children access to technology, teach them how to be safe online.

There are many sites that are both educational and fun. Children can review previously learned skills and preview skills to taught next year. Here are just a few links to get you started.

"You want me to read?  You must be kidding."
"You want me to read? You must be kidding."


Yes, I used the "R" word. Not many kids like to read in the summer. However, if it is a challenge, most will pick up on it. Now the challenge has to be worth it. When I taught 5th grade reading, I challenged the 4th reading teacher to a "Read Off." At the end of the challenge, both grades would receive an ice cream party. The grade that read the most books would be served by the other grade. Both grades worked very hard. Neither wanted to serve the other. At the end of the challenge, every 5th grade student had to serve ice cream to at least one 4th grader before receiving any for themselves. It was all in fun. The kids read more than they usually did. The local PTO paid for the ice cream and everyone had a good time.

Make the challenge pertinent to your child. Be sure it is done in a fun spirit. Remind the child that it is just for fun. No one loses when he reads.

Have you ever wondered why 'The Andy Griffith Show' is still playing on television? Over 40 years of good clean entertainment.


"Television? You want my kid to watch television?"

I know they watch too much television, but if you take it away, it will be a long summer. They probably will watch more than the allotted hours, but the other activities should limit time for television. By putting television in the routine, you don't have to argue about it. They know they have the freedom to watch it.

"What if they spend all their time watching television and don't do the other things on the routine?"

Then they don't receive the privilege for the week.

Simple Plan

This is a simple plan that can be customized for your family. It is designed to remove a little stress from the parents when it comes to entertaining the kids. For that reason, it should be customized to meet the needs of your family. There is nothing magical about the amount of time placed on each unit. Please feel free to change it to suit your family.

Please let me know how it works for your family.


The photos in this Hub were purchased from Please seek permission before using them.


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