Things for Kids to do this Summer
If you are like you, you view the summer with a mixture of excitement and dread. Before they even come, you can just hear the comments of boredom and laziness from your children. So what is a parent to do? Arm yourself with a list of things for these bored kids to do or participate in before the couch permanently fuses to their behinds. With things to do and things to look forward to, the summer won’t be nearly as loooong as usual. Even if you have planned an expensive vacation, the rest of the summer looms ahead. However there are plenty of inexpensive, healthy and even educational activities to keep your children occupied all summer. Here are only a few.
Local Public Library
One of my favorite places is the Public Library. Yes, I’m one of those. I love reading and hopefully, I passed that love onto my children. One thing my constant haunting of the local library taught me was that the libraries like to have activities for children during the long summer months.
Local libraries usually have scheduled things happening all summer knowing that kids are out of school and looking for something to do. Most have a reading program to encourage reading among children and give points and prizes (free ice cream cones and other treats, sports tickets, free kids meals, etc.) for the most books read. Check with your local library to find what incentives and programs they have for your children this summer. In my area they are offering free summer lunch for children all summer regardless of family income. No registration or paperwork involved. What a great deal. The kids can spend the morning at the library and even get a free nutritious lunch. The website even features a coloring page to be printed out and colored each week.
Music in the Park
Music and Drama
Many parks and theatrical groups offer free concerts and plays throughout the summer months. They are performing Hamlet in my area next week. They perform in an open Amphitheater in one of our larger parks in the city. We bring our own popcorn and blankets and pillows to get comfortable on the stone benches and enjoy. Check with your local parks and theatrical groups for times and places. A great way to add some culture and drama in your summer.
Do you absolutely love it when September comes and kids are back in school?
Speaking of reading, Barnes and Nobles offers free story times each week during the summer. Barnes and Nobles also offers a free book to kids who read 8 books and keep the names in their Reading Journal throughout the Summer. The journals can be found in pdf version online and the Barnes and Nobles web site. They also have ways kids can earn rewards by joining the Barnes and Nobles Kids’s Club. Check them out.
The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge offers incentives and rewards for the number of minutes children read from May through September. You have to log on to their website to find out more information and learn about the prizes offered.
If you have a Cinema Showcase near you, they offer a Bookworm Wednesday where the price of admission to the movie is a child’s brief book report on any book read by the child in July only. This really would have encouraged me to read… too bad they didn’t have that 40 years ago. Check for locations near you and times.
Even Pizza Hut and Chuck E. Cheese have reading programs this summer with incentives the children can earn. Check them out for rules and requirements.
Places like Home Depot and Lowes have free workshops for kids. Home Depot is reported to have workshops on the first Saturday of each month during the Summer months but when I checked my local store they didn’t have any scheduled just now. Lowes, on the other hand has two workshops for kids scheduled for June on selected Saturdays. Check with your local store to find out what the theme is for the month and when the kids should be there.
My Dad used to have us outside working on projects in the summer. We had a running contest on things like building a birdhouse out of whatever we could find. Sometimes using scrap wood from a building project, sometimes Popsicle sticks, or even twigs from a tree. We came up with some pretty clever and creative projects. The winner, judged by Dad, got to out for ice cream Sundays.
Register your children at Kids Bowl Free and receive 2 games free daily for the summer. The ages are regulated by the local participating bowling centers. Check out times and regulations at your local bowling center. This will keep kids off the couch all summer. A fun way to get some exercise too.
Go to the Movies
I don’t know that I care to encourage my children to spend a lot of time in the movie theater instead of the open air, but when the days get really hot, going to the nice cool air-conditioned movie theater is a great idea.
Many chain theaters offer free movie days (usually in the mornings) throughout the summer months. Check the theaters near you to find ones participating.
I remember when museums and National Parks were free but not so anymore. However most museums have a night (or day) per week where the admission is free to encourage more participation. This would be a great time to visit and get some culture. Check for the times and days at a museum near you.
This is one of the long-term projects that never ceases to amaze my family and me. You stick a seed in the ground and it grows! Every summer we planned a family garden and grew vegetables and even some fruits like strawberries. The children got the benefit of seeing nature up close, as well as the healthy, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. Start early and see where it goes. Check the local Agricultural Extension in your area for vegetables that grow well in your climate and soil, and when to plant if you don’t already know about those things. They love to help people.
Fairs and Festivals
The summer is the time when communities gear up for the local fairs and other shows. In my area the County Fair isn’t until October, but I often feel this is unusual and mostly because we have hot months all the way through September. Still the fair grounds boasts Rodeos, Car Shows, Hot Air Balloon shows (early in the morning usually), Horse Races, Agricultural shows and Food Festivals.
We also have Farmer’s Markets once a week in two locations in my area. The Farmer’s Market boasts of more than just fresh produce grown locally. They usually have a petting zoo, live music, dancing in the street, artist’s booths, exotic food booths, plus free samples of products like dried cherries and raisins, cranberries and pineapple juice, just to name a few. Our farmer’s markets are free to get into although I have heard of places where they charge for parking. Check your area for the times and places near you.
Family Magazine editors
The Family Magazine
If you have creative budding artists like I do, a bit of creative direction is in order. I started the Family Magazine one extra long summer and it became something they did all year long. Divide up the Magazine features among the children, assign art work and photography work, articles and interviews and turn them loose. A parent will have to take on the role of Editor and correct spelling or layout problems, but for the most part, the kids create and layout the magazine. Printing is much easier these days with in home printers and scanners. We used to have to have ours printed at the local print show. It would have been great to have a printer in home back then. The only note is to keep personal information about your address, children’s personal info, such as last names and ages, out of the magazine for privacy reasons.
We had an “I Witness Weather” section, hosted by my son looking out his window. We had news of interest such as the tearing down of a section of homes as eminent domain for the building of a new high school. It was of interest because one of the homes belonged to my grandparents. The children learned a lot about politics and eminent domain laws through that feature.
We had a poetry section and an art section featuring the kid’s personal work.
We had a Veterinary Section on the health, care and feeding of pets. The pets included a rat, rabbits, dogs, cats, a parrot, chickens, ducks, and an occasional reptile. The possibilities are endless.
These magazines were given and sold for a pittance to friends and family members every month.
This is the time to visit state parks, mountains, beaches and camping sites near you. Many offer free admission but you have to check before you go. The state parks near hear charge per carload but it is usually for parking. The day of hiking, swimming, picnicking, and exploring is ours.
Cleopatra, Anna Pavlova, Winston Churchill, Marie Antoinette
Dress Up Day
We had a costume closet mostly because my husband ran a drama group through our church. However, I like to have fun things in the costume closet that we would never use at the church, like fairy wings and gorilla masks. I gathered these things a little at a time from thrift stores, wedding dresses, capes, wigs, Bozo shoes, Army boots, etc. One day a week throughout the summer and into the school year, we would have a Dress up Day, where the kids each picked a character, either historical, fiction or non fiction, and they were that character for the day. Who can’t have fun as a fairy, or Tarzan, or the Queen of England for a day? One day my daughter was Anna Pavlova for the day; she danced everywhere.
Bubbles and Kites
Summer is the time we would pull out the dishwashing liquid, glycerin and string on two sticks to make the extra big bubbles in the back yard. Incredibly fun for at least a couple hours. The kids got the hang of some pretty impressive bubbles.
We also created and flew our own kites. The biggest problem was waiting for a day where there was a little gust of air. Those still hot summer nights just didn’t have enough breezes to keep those kites up. But when we had the slightest breeze, look out!