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I often get annoyed when I read about summer activities for kids. It’s as if most summer activities for kids should be about entertaining them to leave us alone.
Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a need for moms to get stuff done and enjoy some quiet. But I intentionally want to go against the negative thinking that surrounds being a mom and having your children home. (which is one reason why we homeschool)
I believe we become better parents when we choose to look at our children as gifts instead of burdens. This is a topic for another post, but I wanted to mention it to set the tone for the summer activities I suggest below.
I don’t believe that kids need to be entertained all the time. I don’t want to set up/pay for fifteen million activities and constantly worry about how to keep them happy. Boredom is totally ok and healthy! On the other hand, too much free time can be just as detrimental during the weeks out of school.
When it comes to summer activities for kids, I consider two things to be the most important. One is providing a rich environment for kids to find creativity on their own.
The other one is designated time spent with or supervised by parents, directed toward learning or other purposeful activities.
Who says summer activities for kids can’t be educational? That would be a huge win for moms.
In each of the suggested summer activities below, you will find a win that’s specifically for you. And no, it’s not that your child will finally leave you alone. There are so much more to summer activities than that!
5 Summer Activities For Kids That Are A Win For Mom
Some of these summer activities for kids have been inspired by Joy Forney, who is one of my favorite moms to follow on Instagram. I also gathered ideas during my many years of parenting from others who passed them down to me, but I can’t exactly remember from who or from where.
I’m saying this to show you that you don’t have to be original, super creative or extra specially gifted to have awesome summer activities for kids in your mom toolbox.
Read what works for moms like you and adapt it to your family. Just remember to do other moms a favor and pass your knowledge down to them! (You can easily do this by sharing this post, by the way!)
One of my new favorite summer activities for kids is stations. There are many ways to set this up, so you can adapt it to your situation.
The Win For You: get stuff done while kids engage in meaningful, independent activities, but you can build in quality time too.
I make sure the areas for stations are spread out in the house so my kids don’t have to be in the same space together. The whole point of the stations is to separate kids to enjoy summer activities independently and take a break from each other.
Station 1: Art
In my house, art has to be simple because I am not very creative when it comes to painting and drawing. I can engage in reading, writing, cooking but creating pretty crafts is not my gift.
However, I am fully aware of how beneficial art is for children and mine love summer activities that include creating something with their hands.
I have whole post on summer crafts for kids and in it, you will find all kinds of art projects that are either easy enough for kids to make, or only need a little help from an adult.
Besides these, I may also put out plain paper and stamps, playdoh or something similarly simple, no prep activity.
For inspiration check out Meri Cherry’s blog post for non-crafty moms and the Art Pantry’s open-ended art prompts.
Station 2: Toys/Books
At the second station, have a basket of books and toys set up. The way to keep this interesting is to make regular trips to the library and change up the books in the basket. It’s a good idea to choose summer-themed books or anything that currently interests your child.
This website has a book list for all ages that is super helpful in picking out quality literature and picture books for kids. Honey For A Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt is the best resource I know of on what to read with kids.
The toys I like to keep in this station are usually ones my kids especially love and will be happy to play with quietly. Or, I rotate toys that I put up in the closet and then those bring the wow factor.
Station 3: Audiobooks
I make this station cozy because I hope it serves as a sanctuary for some mental and physical rest. It’s important to me that they listen to quality stories and literature, so I like to read recommendations from Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival.
Station 4: Legos
Of course, this station does not have to be strictly legos, it can be any open-ended building toy your child enjoys. We also love these magnets and wooden building blocks.
The point is to set up an activity that doesn’t play for them but encourages their creativity instead.
Station 5: Outside
Set up a water table or sprinklers and let the kids enjoy the summer weather. If it isn’t too hot where you live, outside time can include any activity the kids could be doing inside. Being outside is good for kids, even if they don’t have a fancy backyard or a pool.
Another option I sometimes like to do for this station is to let the kids spend time with me or their dad. This way, the kids enjoy independent play while we get stuff done, but we also come together for special one-on-one time.
2. Service Day
The next one on the summer activities list is one I only recently discovered: a service day. Why is that included in kids’ fun, you ask? Because I believe that serving others shapes character, reduces selfishness and entitlement, but most of all because God calls us to a sacrificial life.
Even if you aren’t religious, you can agree that bringing awareness to other people’s needs is necessary to raise compassionate and kind humans. So this is the basis for a service day among summer activities.
The Win For You: showing kindness makes you feel happy and you are meaningfully impacting who your kids become.
Service day doesn’t need to be a full day unless you want it to be. If you’re a mom with little kids, you will obviously have to consider nap schedules and maturity level so you find the right activity. You may need to do a service activity from home.
With older kids, they may come up with an idea on their own, based upon their interests or personalities. It’s great to have them involved in the planning process.
Remember, the purpose is to involve your kids and teach them why you are doing this. It does not matter if they only understand part of it or if they protest. When you act confident in following the plan, they will get with the program.
When I planned to watch my friend’s daughter one morning, my kids knew about all the reasons why we were doing it. We prayed, we talked about it, we got ready for it, but when the time came, all three of them were in horrible attitudes.
All they did was fight and helping me serve this family by watching their daughter was the farthest thing from their mind. Yet, I did not consider this a failure, quite the opposite. I got plenty of opportunities to model patience and repeat the mantra: “this morning isn’t about our fun right now, we are spending time loving/ helping somebody else”.
Needless to say, I was exhausted by the time I dropped my friend’s daughter back off, but I was thankful for this opportunity of growth for all of us. Hard situations and challenges are what form us to be a kinder person, not a beach vacation. (Nothing wrong with a beach vacation, I love them too, but you get the point!)
The only thing I regret about this activity is that I did not start doing it much sooner! I guess I could have used some ideas and encouragement. I want to provide that for you, so here are some specific ideas for a service day to get you started:
-help a friend by watching her kid(s)
-draw or make a craft and take it to a lonely neighbor
-bake cookies and give them to somebody who could use some cheering up
-deliver meals to elderly people (usually through a nonprofit)
-make a meal for a new mom or grieving family
-go through your things and donate gently used toys, clothes, etc.
For further ideas, check out these posts I love on the topic:
11 Service Projects Kids Can Do
3. Read Aloud Together
I love a good story and I really enjoy reading literature from a gifted writer. I have not been this way as a kid, but I believe the time I spent
being forced to read reading during summers is what eventually got me to that point as an adult.
Literature is so good for you!!! These days we have so many useful resources available at a click of a button that we have no excuse not to read. And while I wholeheartedly prefer printed copies, there is a time and place for e-readers and audiobooks too.
The Win For You: spending time with your kids and preventing the summer slide.
Keeping your kids’ intellectual engaged and challenging them to analyze a piece of literature prevents them to completely forget about learning. You can have them read aloud one page from the book and you read the next.
Even if it’s a more difficult book than the child’s reading level, they learn by exposure to it. If they’re kindergarten age, you could have them find words they know in the text (like sight words). If they’re a more confident reader, work on reading several pages aloud with expression.
These sessions can be as short or as long as time allows. Chipping away at your goal of finishing the book happens little by little, so don’t get discouraged if you have interruptions. For us, 20-30 mins are going to be plenty, but it may be shorter or longer for you.
I like scheduling my priorities first thing in the morning, so our reading time will likely be during or right after breakfast. Alternatively, bedtime is another great opportunity for reading aloud.
Whether it’s by the pool, in the backyard, in the car or on the couch, share a book!
This summer, the kids and I are going to read The Secret Garden together. Since my first language is not English, I am not going to attempt to read the dialects in the book. We are going to listen to a LibriVox recording of it.
Update: We are actually reading the book aloud on our own. The recording went way to fast for the kids to understand the older language. Even though there are dialects, it actually helps that I don’t read them quite correctly and I read them slower to figure them out. It’s super hard to understand for my kids otherwise!
I got the book idea from the Read Aloud Revival summer book club, and I also purchased coloring books for the kids to color while we listen. I’m looking forward to experiencing a great story with my kids and having discussions about the book.
4. Habit Training
This one sounds like another idea that doesn’t belong on a list of summer activities for kids. I think I can convince you otherwise.
When exactly do you have time to show your kids how to clean a bathtub, make scrambled eggs or fold laundry? And I mean REEEEAALLY showing them: patiently, walking them through the process, making sure they are doing it well, practicing it and then letting them do it alone till they do it well?
It’s difficult to find the time and to be consistent, but you know why it’s important? Because once they are proficient, you can leave them to do it independently and expect a good job or hold them accountable for a sloppy one.
The Win For You: with a short amount of intense training, you get the long term result of a responsible child who is capable of doing his chores well.
But why on Earth would you wanna do training in the summer? That’s cause they’re home all day! Even if you homeschool as we do, school work usually takes precedence over forming habits.
That’s not necessarily a good thing, it’s just reality.
So in the summer, when your kids sleep in and have plenty of downtime, why not sneak in a little bit of habit training to make them feel productive and save you energy in the long run?
Another reason why this is a great idea is that you are training without the stress of a timeline. Your kids don’t have to be done by a certain time so they don’t need to rush and they have plenty of time to redo it.
If your child struggles with her morning routine, why not practice the habit of getting ready during the summer? You can make it fun and have your child do something they love after they completed the task for the day.
Here are some habits you can teach:
-wash hands WELL
-vacuuming certain areas efficiently
-washing greasy dishes
and anything else you would like your child to be good at!
5. Summer Learning For Screen Time
If your kids would rather veg out in front of the TV than fill out workbooks, you’re definitely not alone. So why not connect the two and have kids earn screen time by completing summer learning activities?
The Win For You: peace of mind that your kids are keeping their school skills up.
One of my favorite resources is Mystery Doug who releases a new video every Monday during the school year. They’re usually 5-10 mins in length. All questions are asked by children and he answers them in a scientific yet very understandable way.
He often includes funny or surprising facts that are hard to forget. There are extra activities attached to some of the lessons, but all the lessons are interactive. I really can’t say enough good things.
Children are naturally curious and science is such a great way to tap into that. You may even borrow books on the topic and further research what caught your child’s interest. You’ll be so excited to see their passion for the topic.
Another great resource is the Summer Express workbooks by Scholastic. The workbooks have high reviews on Amazon and my experience is that kids love them. They do a few pages a day, covering all the different subjects.
The workbooks come with stickers which you can use for marking how much screen time they earned.
I hope this simple list helps you see that summer activities don’t have to be either overwhelming for mom or boring for kids. It’s possible to find summer activities for kids that are a win for everybody!
Try these and let me know how it went!
Please don’t forget to share this article with your friends if you found it helpful to be a better parent!