By: Michele Gerrells
*This is a giant list of summer ideas from another TOS Crew Member friend of mine. Some of them are things I have never really thought of and can’t wait to try them out with the boys! Read on and don’t forget to comment and check out Michele’s site! ~Kelli*
It’s summer! For many of us school is out and the warmer temperatures are here. Summer means vacations, change of routine or maybe no routine at all.
Perhaps you’re not taking a vacation. Soon you will hear that familiar lament from the kids: I’m bored! They want something to do and you don’t want them sitting in front of the TV, computer or playing video games all day. You’re stumped. What to do?
Well, look no further. I have compiled a list of ideas and activities that will get you up off that sofa, add some fun to your summer and have you doing things as a family! There is something here for all ages. Let’s get outside! There is so much to do in the great outdoors!
1. Bubbles~ We love bubbles here. You can make your own bubble solution or buy it at the store.
2. Sidewalk chalk~ This is a current favorite at our house. You can make your own or buy it. Our favorite right now is Crayola 3-D sidewalk chalk. It comes with special 3-D glasses and it really does look 3 dimensional.
3. Sidewalk paint~this is something we are going to try this summer. We are going to make our own. Gather some paintbrushes and paint sponges and get creative!
4. Sandbox~do you have a sandbox? Hours of fun can be had in one. You can build sandcastles, make mud pies, drive cars and trucks around the possibilities are endless! If you don’t have a sandbox you can make a portable sandbox from a large plastic container from the store. Make sure it is shallow enough for little ones to be able to reach into it. You can use an under the bed box. Add small pails and shovels, small cars and trucks, spoons and cups. Use your imagination.
5. Water table~these also can produce hours of fun. If there is water involved my boys are there! Again if you don’t have a water table you can make one out of a large shallow container. Add small pitchers, cups, bowls, etc.
6. Swimming Pool ~ Go swimming. No access to a pool how about the local lake? No lake nearby? Get a small kiddie pool for the backyard. We do go to our local pool but there are times our schedule does not allow it. We have a kiddie pool for those days when we can’t get there. It keeps them cool and they have fun!
7. Water guns~these are always a big hit at our house. Sometimes all four of us get in on the action and see who can stay the driest!
8. Water Sprinklers~This is pretty self explanatory! Hook it up, don your bathing suit and have fun!
9. Water balloons~ Fill a laundry basket full of water balloons. Split up into teams and see which team can remain dry. Water balloon catch is also fun! Each person picks a partner and they toss the balloon back and forth trying not to drop it. The person who misses gets wet!
10. Outdoor games~ We have a great collection of outdoor games, croquet, bocce ball, mini golf, badminton, tennis. You could also play volley ball, basketball, street hockey. How about a marble shoot?
Relay races are always fun. How about an egg and spoon race?
Water relay races are fun too. For this you will need two teams, four buckets and two cups. Each team forms a line. There is a bucket filled with water at the start of each team. A person from each team fills their cup with water. There is an empty bucket placed on the other side of the yard. Each person walks/runs as fast as they can with their cup of water to the empty bucket and dumps their water in, runs back, hands off the empty cup to the next teammate. The team who fills the empty bucket first wins!
11. Bring it outside~ Why not bring the indoors out? Have art time out in the yard, bring out the colored pencils, sketch pad, crayons, paint and get creative. Sit in the shade or under a tree. While you’re at it bring out those board games or a good book. Read out loud as a family, play dominoes, chess or checkers or any of your other favorite games outside.
NATURE AND SCIENCE
12. Get close up with nature~ Grab a magnifying glass, bug catcher. What you can find in your yard to observe. There are many insects out there that are fascinating to watch. See how many different insects you can find? Can you identify them?
13. Take a nature walk ~ Do you have a nature trail nearby? Grab your walking shoes a back pack with a camera, portable microscope (Radio shack sells a neat one), small sketch pad or clip board with some paper attached for drawing, pencils, bug catcher, binoculars, plastic zip bags (for collecting items), magnifying glass, water for drinking and head off on a family hike! We have a wooded area across the street from our house and we go on nature walks frequently. We collect leaves, pinecones, rocks all sorts of things.
14. Become a bird watcher~ add a feeder or two to your yard. What kinds of birds can you attract. Hummingbirds are so fun and interesting to watch. Get a hummingbird feeder and some nectar and see how many come to your feeder.
15. Plant a butterfly garden~ You can attract butterflies to your yard by planting the types of plants and flowers they like. There are butterfly bushes, moon flowers and other trumpet flowers that will attract butterflies. You can find books on this topic at your local library
16. Backyard Science~ There are so many simple outdoor science experiments you can do. This year we are going to make a geyser in our yard. All you need is a 2 liter bottle of diet soda and mentos mints. Open the soda drop in a mint and watch your geyser go! (a word of caution this goes very high and can be messy. Make sure you have adequate space to try this).
17. Make a volcano ~ make your volcano out of sand or dirt pour a couple of tablespoons of baking soda into the top of your volcano and add some vinegar and what it erupt. You can add some red food coloring for a really cool effect.
18. Sun sensitive paper~ This is paper that is activated by sunlight. You can create cool art work with it. Put rocks, leaves, sea shells anything you can think of on top of the paper. Leave it out in the sun for a while. Then remove the items and see the cool designs left behind. You can find this at most science stores. We purchased ours online at Oriental Trading.
19. Become an amateur astronomer~ Do you have a telescope? If you do why not set it up and see what planets you can find. The moon is pretty easy to see and those craters are very cool seen through a telescope.
20. Do some star gazing~ Stars are beautiful. See how many constellations you can find. Get a star chart and see what constellations are in your part of the sky.
21. Moon phases~ Why not watch the moon each night and learn all about its different phases. Check your local library for books on moon phases. You can also find a wealth of information online by searching moon phases.
22. Watch a meteor shower~ There are several meteor showers throughout the year. The Perseids Meteor Shower peaks on August 12 2009. We go out every year and watch this. We see how many meteors we can see!
Out and About
23. Library~ Participate in your library’s summer reading program. Our library has a fantastic summer program for various ages during the month of July. They have various programs, story times and craft times. All for free! Check with your local library to see their schedule.
24. State Parks~We have two state parks nearby. There are walking trails, nature programs, lakes and camping.
25. Go to the zoo~There are two free zoos near our home. We can make a day of a zoo trip, pack a lunch and spend the day looking at all the animals. The smaller zoo lets us feed the ducks so we always take along some bread.
26. Go to the fair~Summer is the time for fairs. There are three that we always attend in our county and two surrounding counties. We enjoy getting out and seeing all the locally made items, 4-H exhibits and animals. Some fairs have rides for the kids and yummy foods like soft serve ice cream and funnel cakes. This year we are going to enter some things in our county fair. You do not have to belong to a 4-H group to enter. Maybe you could enter something!
Inevitably it is going to rain. Plan some rainy day activities. We are lucky in that we have a screened in patio that the boys can play in when the weather is bad. They can take their toys out there and play.
27. Make some play dough~ play dough is a favorite here and we make our own. It is so easy and there are a ton of recipes on the internet.
28. Have a picnic in your living room~why not spread a blanket on your family room floor and have a picnic! It does not always have to be outside.
29. Movie Night~ turn your home into a theater. Buy movie sized candy (you can find these at many dollar stores), pop popcorn, make up some movie tickets, rent a few movies or watch something that you already have that is a family favorite. This is something we plan on doing with our boys over the summer.
30. Ice cream sundae bar~ buy a couple of different flavors of ice cream, sprinkles, different sauces and toppings, whipped cream, some fruit and have everyone make their own sundaes.
I hope this list gives you some fun things to try! The important thing is to get out there, try something new and just have fun together!
Michele Gerrells has been married for 25 years to her wonderful husband Larry. They have two boys, Justin age 7 and Kaden age 4. They are an adoptive family and make their home in New Jersey along with their cat Jupiter and their four hermit crabs. Michele stays home full time and homeschools the boys. They have a new adventure every day. You can find Michele at her blog My Blessings From Above.