Wednesday, July 18, 2012

50 Summer Activities for Little Ones

Summer is upon us and while it is absolutely wonderful to spend our days outside it doesn't work at all if I don't have something for us to do. So, I have been building a little list of activities for us to choose from. I thought I would share it with you and hopefully you can add to it as well!

50. Garden. No matter your child's developmental stage there is always some gardening to be done...even if you don't have an actual garden. Plant some seeds (larger seeds are better for little hands), get your kiddo a watering can, a small plant to replant, some dirt to play in, whatever you think and just get to it. Don't trouble yourself with cleanliness or the actual care of a plant, this is about the learning and engagement not plants.

watering can

49. Let's just get this one out of the way shall we? Kiddie pool. Tried and true the kiddie pool is a summer classic. Just don't forget to move it or all of your grass will die. Also, if you don't have a place for a kiddie pool just visit your local rec center or public pool and swim with that kid! Always a hit!

48. Rainy day? Build a terrarium.

47. Library! Visit your local library. Unless you are out of your mind you will use the wonderful resource that is your local library. Most libraries that I have ever encountered have many summer programs for all ages. Think weekly story time, reading programs, performances, etc.

46. Make and fly a kite!

45. Evening? If you don't mind letting your little one stay up a bit late you can do some star spotting. Add glow sticks to the mix and it will be magical.

44. Make a wind-chime or a wind sock out of things you find together. Don't think sophistication here. Find some sticks or rocks, maybe use some paint, yarn and done. Let your kid get creative, if they want to tie their old shoe onto it, let them---it won't have to hang forever.

43. Make some art. Pull out paper, crayons, paint, whatever. let your kid make some art!

42. Kick up the art making a notch and do some outdoor art. Use materials gathered in your yard or while on a walk and glue them to canvas, cardboard, whatever. Use the them to trace, dip them in paint, etc. Use your imagination and most importantly let your little one use theirs!

41. Go to a ball game and cheer like crazy, being ready to leave early if your kid gets bored or worn tend to be fun for a while and then drag on, at least in our experience.

40. Come up with a list of random acts of kindness you can do with your kid. Be sure to engage your child in the activity and make it sneaky fun....ding-dong ditch a friend with treats, leave a special note or drawing for a stranger, etc.

39.  Don't underestimate the power of the play date. Meet up with some friends, prepare yourself for a few tantrums or sharing meltdowns (they are inevitable) and then set up a few different play stations so the kids can move freely without hovering.

38. Live near any water? Make and float a boat.

37. Make a stepping stone.

36. Press flowers. You can press them simply between the pages of a phone books (hey those things still have a use???) or buy an elaborate flower press. Your call.

35. Make (perhaps this is something a parent should do) and paint a birdhouse. Not feeling the whole "make a birdhouse" thing, just go to your local craft store and buy a blank bird house. Let your little one paint it as crazy as they desire. Then try and find the perfect place to put it!

34. Mix it up. Take your library books and a picnic blanket to the park and do some reading outside in the shade or on the grass.

33. Prepare a picnic together and then go on a picnic. If it's a rainy day just picnic on the floor in the living room.

32. Take a walk and go rock hunting. We walk around the neighborhood and find rocks that my daughter thinks are "cool."  I do have to remind her that we can't take rocks from the yards of others. She likes to bring a bag to collect them. See 31 and 24 for more ways to use your rocks.

31. Paint some rocks. Then find a high profile location to place them.

30. Not everyone has access to a hose, but if you do, just pop a bathing suit on your kid(s) and set up the sprinkler. It was fun when you were little and it is still fun now.

29. Make a dirt box....I know, what? Grab a box, fill it with leftover potting soil or dirt. Add some measuring cups, buckets, spoons, toys, anything and watch as your kid digs in. So simple and so entertaining. If you are brave just add water.

dirt box

28. Make your own popsicles in the morning. Popsicle molds are super cheap and easy to find this time of year. Bonus points for making creative and healthy pops. Get your kid involved in choosing fruits to blend and flavors to combine.

27. When your popsicles are ready, enjoy them in the heat of a summer day. Use this as an opportunity to discuss the different flavors, see if you can identify the fruits and juices used.

26. Water balloons and squirt guns or any type of drenching device is always a huge hit. The most fun is when mom and dad give in and get soaked as well.

25. Let your kid get as dirty as possible. Make it a challenge. Give them dirt, mud, or whatever you think will get them filthy. Seriously, covered head to toe is the best thing in the world. Then hose them down before giving them a bath.

24. Use a rock collection to make a letter or design. We have a big rock "W" in our front garden, assembled from a zillion little pebbles. We add to it regularly and it looks pretty cool too.

23. Bake or cook something. Get your kid involved in mixing, supervised pouring or measuring. If it is a hot day just do it earlier rather than later or you will regret turning that oven on this summer.

22. Check out your local museums, rec centers, etc. Most museums have summer programs and activities for kids of all ages.

21. Visit a park. Coat your child in sunscreen and let them play. Be sure to pack some drinks to keep cool.

20. Rainy day? Dress up time. If you don't already have a dress up box this is the perfect time to visit a few thrift stores and stock up on a dress up box. If you can sew add a few things of your own design as well!

19. Take a walk around your neighborhood. We like to do this around sunset. Nice way to be friendly with the neighbors, learn street names and just to look around.

18. Treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. You can make a map for older kids or just have a simple scavenger hunt for the little ones.

17. Use some chalk. Write on your sidewalk. Hang a chalkboard somewhere that your kiddo can have access to it. Set out some chalk and let it happen. My girl likes to come and go with it.

16. Try out some classic outdoor games. Ring toss, tic tac toe, four square, catch, frisbee, simon says, red light green light, freeze tag, hop scotch....anything you remember from childhood. A great opportunity to share and make new memories.

15. Ask your kid what he/she wants to do and, if it is possible, make it happen.

14. Make a fort, inside or out.

13. Visit a nearby national park and take an easy hike.

12.  Grab some toddler binoculars and go exploring. Bird watch, bug watch, people watch. Add a sketchbook to the mix so your little one can "take notes."

11. Go to a local farm and pick fresh fruits or veggies...then come home and make something together.

10. Throw a theme party and invite the friends, needn't be a big or expensive party, just something different. Involve your little one in the planning, making, decorating process.

9. Make bird feeders. Then find some good spots to hang them. Don't have a yard, just go to the local park.

8. Visit your community web page for a list of activities around your town. All communities have a home page. You can find out times and dates for everything that your community is doing: arts festivals, free museum days, free swim days, farmer's market, parades, festivals, etc. I live in a very small town in Wyoming and I can tell you that there is something going on every day!

7. On a super-hot day let your child take a "bath" out back. Fill the pool with bath toys and use biodegradable shampoos and watch how something normal becomes something crazy fun!

6. Camping. Not interested in sleeping outside with your little one? Then just go "camping" for the afternoon. Set up a little tent and read or play inside.

5. Make and decorate mini (vegan) pizzas. Show your kid how to make food faces or let them do their own thing.

4. Make and hang garden stars. The project requires time collecting, making and hanging!

3. Draw or paint pictures for friends and family far away and mail them the art.

2. Start a family band. Make  and decorate instruments using household items (drums from pots, wax paper over a comb, shaker from a paper towel tube.

1. Do nothing.

Do you have anything to add to the list? I would love to hear your ideas!


Michelle said...

Takes me back to my kids' childhoods! Once Jerry found tadpoles in a big puddle. He brought some home, put them in a fish bowl, and we watched them develop into little toads over the next week or two.
The summer we lived in a new house in a new development where yards were not yet put in, we did the hose down Anne Marie thing before she could come in the house at night!

Susan Struck said...

My goodness! How did you have time to even think up all that?

Maria Rose said...

Ha ha. I started working on the list last month.

AKM said...

I think you forgot something on #41. Isn't "local anchorpeople spotting" supposed to be part of the ballgame experience? ;-)

Emily said...

LOVE this list! And I'm glad you kept it affordable too.

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