One big problem with summer...kids get bored! As adults, we can't possibly understand that...who wouldn't want seemingly endless days with nothing to do but play?! The reality is that they do get bored, and sometimes us grown ups have to be the entertainment committee. Most of these 10 activities cost little or no money and most of them do not require hours of your time. Once you get your children to think creatively, they will be able to come up with many ways to entertain themselves. Plus, the adults can enjoy these activities as well, they are fun for the whole family!
1. ARTS AND CRAFTS CENTER
Set up an arts and crafts center on your dining room table. You only use the table for Thanksgiving and Christmas anyway. You will be amazed at what your children can create with a few simple supplies. Set out construction paper, scissors, crayons, glue sticks, craft sticks, cotton balls, markers, and glitter. If you have an arts and crafts book handy, put that on the table too. One idea will act as a springboard for many more. My daughter can entertain herself all day with an arts and crafts center.
2. TAKE A LISTENING WALK
I do this activity with my students at school and they just love it. First we read "The Listening Walk" by Paul Showers. The story is about a little boy who goes on a walk and hears all kinds of interesting things. Tell your children that they are going on a listening walk. They will not be able to talk during your walk. Instead they must listen to all the sounds they hear around them. When you get back from the walk see who can list the most sounds that they heard. Did everyone hear the same sounds? The results might surprise you.
3. PET SITTING
Your family could offer to pet sit for a neighbor. Take your children with you to the neighbor's house and ask them to help you. If you are taking care of a dog, your kids could feed the dog, take him on a walk, and brush him. If you are pet sitting a cat, your kids could help change the litter box and play with the cat. This activity is great during the summer months when your family is less busy. Your neighbor will appreciate your help and your kids can learn about responsibility.
4. MAKE A MOVIE
Does your family own a camcorder? If so, you can keep your kids occupied for days by letting them make their own movie. Ask them to write a script and hand out parts to everyone in the family or to some of their friends. They will need to learn their lines and make props. Once they film their movie they could sell tickets and have a screening at your house. You can pop some popcorn for your guests to eat while they watch the show.
5. BREAK A WORLD RECORD
When I was a kid I always thought it would be great to break a world record. My goal was to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for something. Get your kids a copy of the book from the library and have them flip through it until they find a record they think they can break. Maybe they could blow the largest bubble with bubblegum or jump rope the longest. You get the idea. This could occupy your children for many hours.
6. GROW A GARDEN
Give your children a small plot of land to grow a garden this summer. For a small amount of money you could buy them flower or vegetable seeds and let them test their green thumb. They can borrow your gardening tools or you could get them a small trowel and gardening gloves. Just imagine how satisfied they will be when their flowers bloom or they can serve their vegetables at the dinner table one evening. They may develop a life long love of gardening.
7. CHILDREN'S YARD SALE
Have you ever noticed a lot of clutter in your children's bedrooms? Do they have way too many toys that they've outgrown? Let them host a yard sale in your front yard. Your kids can sort through their clothes and toys and mark them for sale. Give them a few tables and chairs and maybe some clothing line to string across two trees. They can set up a lemonade stand to quench the thirst of shoppers.
8. MAKE ERRANDS MORE FUN
Every day can't be a party. You have errands to run and household chores that need to be tended to. Make your everyday errands more fun by turning them into a game. When you go to the grocery store you can give older kids a list and see who is the first to bring back everything on their list. If you're running errands in the car, have children play the alphabet game. Ask them to find all of the letters of the alphabet on signs before you get back to the house. The one who finds the most letters gets a prize.
9. TAKE A DAY TRIP
Once in a while you need to get out of the house. Take a day trip with your kids. If you live in the suburbs, go to the city. You could visit a science museum and have a picnic at a city park. An outing to the city zoo would be popular with older and younger kids. If you're feeling really adventurous you could travel to a small town that you've never visited. Find a local town that has an interesting draw like a lake, a wildlife preserve, an aviation museum or something that your kids would be interested in.
10. CAMPING IN THE BACKYARD
You don't have to travel far to get back to nature. It can be found as close as your back door. Plan a camping trip in your backyard one evening. Start with a cookout on the grill complete with roasted marshmallows. You and your family can sing campfire songs, tell stories, and look at the stars. If your family is not the camping type, you could probably borrow a tent from a neighbor who camps. Roll out the sleeping bags and spend an evening under the stars. Kids love anything out of the ordinary and this definitely qualifies as out of the ordinary.