Summer is a great time to plan exciting trips or visit with family and friends. Even with scheduled plans, we are often still left with lots of downtime. While it can be a great thing for kids to feel boredom and create their own fun, it can be handy to have a few ideas in your back pocket for those days when everyone starts to go a little stir-crazy. Check out these fun summer activities that can easily be done last-minute:
1. Visit a Museum
Even very young children will enjoy trips to your local museum. While many will delight in spending a day at a museum specifically designed for children, kids also like going to art museums, science museums, aquariums, and many others.
Many local libraries now have passes to area museums. If you have a library card, you may be able to pick up a pass the will give you and your family free or reduced admission, which is a nice perk for everyone. Libraries are a great resource to figure out what museums might be best for your kids, too.
When you do head out, remember to consider your kids’ perspective during the day. Some exhibits may be fascinating for you but boring to them, and vice versa. Kids will need breaks and food. Pack some snacks or check out a fun local lunch spot.
Presetting the kids is another great strategy. Talk to them about what they will see, how they are expected to behave at a museum, and what the day will be like. Let their interests help guide your trip, and enjoy the memorable experience.
2. Go for a Hike
Taking your kids hiking has so many benefits! You get to spend quality time together, everyone gets some exercise, and the family gets to immerse themselves in nature. There are so many options that are sure to find a trail that will appeal to even the most reluctant of hikers. Browse an online directory to decide what might be a good fit. Check out these sites for more information:
Before heading out, make sure everyone is dressed appropriately. These needs will vary greatly depending on what part of the country you plan on hiking in and how challenging the trail is. Consider wearing either sturdy sneakers or hiking boots; open-toes shoes can quickly lead to painful encounters with rocks, roots, or other obstacles. Dressing in comfortable layers is also a good idea, as hiking (especially in the summer) can cause our bodies to heat up, but mountain summits or other open areas can be breezy and deceptively chilly.
It’s important to think about pests as well. Bugs will be joining you on your hike, and no matter how much your little ones may find them fascinating, certain insects are best kept at a distance. Two standouts include mosquitoes and ticks, both of which can carry disease. There are many options for prevention of bites, including wearing right clothing, to buying or making repellent sprays. Find out what pests to be aware of in your area and consider your options for protection.
Lastly, be sure to make it fun! Adults typically hike with a goal and approach the experience as a task to complete. Children will likely want to stop frequently, both to explore every cool leaf and rock they see, but also because they will get tired. Be prepared to take lots of breaks, and pack some fun snacks and water. Remember to take some pictures to remember the day!
3. Make Recycled Art
Feeling creative but low on supplies? Raid your own recycle bin for some inspiration! Some possibilities:
- Unique drawing paper - That old Amazon box or colorful envelope provides the perfect canvas for kids to unleash their drawing and coloring skills. Use whatever you have around the house, including crayons, markers, or even sidewalk chalk.
- Collage - Magazines or flyers are great for this. Cut out shapes, images, letters, or whatever inspires you, then glue them onto another piece of paper to make a whole new image. Bonus: young kids are getting some good fine motor practice!
- Sculpture - The possibilities are endless. Egg cartons can become caterpillars, plastic bottles can transform into vases, and cardboard tubes and boxes can be attached to one another to make animals. Gather up some tape and markers and see what your imagination can create.
One really fun option is to pull your recycling bin into the middle of your kitchen floor and ask your child to use their imagination. Children see the world in such an unfiltered way, and everyday objects can easily provoke their creativity.
4. Pack a Picnic
Having a picnic is one of the simplest and relaxing ways to enjoy the warmer months. Choose a spot (local parks or beaches are wonderful, but so is your own backyard.) Have the kids help prepare and pack sandwiches, snacks and drinks. Some ideas:
- Finger Foods: Think grapes, olives, cheese, bread, and carrot sticks.
- Simple Salads: Whip up your favorite, whether it be macaroni, bean, potato, or veggie-based.
- Quick Sandwiches: Peanut butter and jelly is an easy go-to, and so are cold cuts. If you have adventurous kids, look up a recipe and try something that is new for everyone!
- Easy drink: Fill up some water bottles or back some juice boxes to keep everyone hydrated.
Remember to pack a blanket, napkins, and any plates, cups, or utensils you may need. Bug spray and sunscreen might be helpful, too!
5. Check Out Your Library
Not only is your library a great source for museum passes, but libraries are a great place to take children for a variety of other reasons, too. While each library is different, many offer:
- Summer reading programs
- Classes and activities for kids of all ages (for a small fee or free)
- Special events for families
- Art displays to view
- Children’s and teen’s book sections
- Storytime for little ones
Best of all, the library is a really nice place to spend a quiet few hours, enjoying some books together out of the heat of a summer day.
Enjoy your time together this summer!