Simple fun summer activities for families
My three boys and I have been making a summer checklist for the last seven years and it is still the key to a successful summer for our family.
Basically, at the beginning of the summer, we put together a list of all the fun activities we plan to do over the summer break from school and then we spend the rest of the summer trying to check all the items off the list.
Items on the list don’t need to be difficult or expensive. Instead, the focus should be on easy and inexpensive activities and ideas. The best way to make summer memories is to repeat simple outings and activities annually, so creating a list including some of the same items from past years is fantastic. Rituals and traditions are the cornerstones of childhood memories.
Our summer checklist contains 50 items, but you should make your list manageable for your family. Choose 20, 30 or 40 items; it’s totally up to you. Feel free to use my checklist (which can be found with many helpful links at Eastcoastmommy.com), or you can create your own.
When putting your summer checklist together, make sure you include your summer holidays and celebrations. If you are looking forward to an event like a birthday, anniversary or wedding, you should include it on your list. Having an item on the summer checklist helps to build anticipation.
You’ll also want to add some simple childhood staples. If you remember doing something when you were a kid, make sure you take this opportunity to share the experience with your child. Include things like: go on a picnic, go cloud/stargazing, go to a splash pad, visit a new playground, shop at a farmers market, have a water balloon fight, attend an outdoor concert, go on a hike, plant a garden, build a fort, play a board game, visit an ice cream stand and/or build a sandcastle.
Educational activities are also wonderful to add to a summer checklist. It’s well documented that the ‘summer slide’ is real, so it’s a good idea to add a little learning to the summer fun. Include things like: make ice cream (which can easily be done without special equipment), make a reading list, do a simple science experiment, learn a magic trick, make a craft, etc. Visiting the library is a great way for kids to get inspired, get engaged and explore their individual interests.
You may also want to add a few items to your list that require a little bit of effort and/or preparation. You don’t want too many labour-intensive items on your list, but a few special activities can help make fantastic memories. One of our favourite summer activities is hosting a half-sleepover. We invite a bunch of friends over in their pyjamas and they cuddle up with blankets and pillows, watch a movie, eat special treats and then they head home around 9 p.m. to sleep in their own beds. It’s a great solution for families or kids who aren’t quite ready for sleepovers.
Some of our other favourite activities to put on our checklist are: kids pick the meals day, watch a movie outside, eat doughnuts from a string (with no hands), go geocaching and go camping.
The possibilities for fun summer activities are endless, but having a list helps put a little structure around the summer schedule. Busy kids are happy kids!
I hope I’ve inspired you to make a list with your family or that you decide to use mine. The summer flies by (and so does childhood), so enjoy every minute of it. Happy summer!
Gina Bell is a writer, blogger and busy mom of three small boys.she has contributed to several blogs and major publications, including Disney’s Family Fun Magazine, Canadian Living and CBC Kids. Her blog, Eastcoastmommy.com, is full of fantastic ideas for easy and inexpensive family fun.
Eating doughnuts from a string is just one of the many fun and silly activities you can add to your family’s summer checklist.