Sim­ple fun sum­mer ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies

South Shore Breaker - - HOME&GARDEN - GINA BELL EAST COAST MOMMY edi­tor@southshore­

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 East­coast­, 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, East­coast­, is full of fan­tas­tic ideas for easy and in­ex­pen­sive fam­ily fun.

Gina Bell

Eat­ing dough­nuts from a string is just one of the many fun and silly ac­tiv­i­ties you can add to your fam­ily’s sum­mer check­list.

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