Summertime. For children, this is heaven. There’s no school, no homework, no expectations. They’re free to spend their days however they desire. For parents, especially stay at home parents, summertime can be your worst nightmare. It doesn’t take long for children to go from “Yay! It’s summer. I’m going to have so much fun.” to “OMG. There’s nothing to do. I’m so bored!”
Parents, just breath. Help is near. Here are five tried and tested activities for your child to do this summer to chase away the summertime blues. Some activities may not be applicable to all readers.
1. Scavenger hunts
Scavenger hunts are a great way to keep your kids busy for an extended period of time. These can be tailored to your child’s age, interests, and locations. You can do a scavenger hunt in the house, looking for various items, such as pencils, an item that begins with the letter C, or something blue. The prizes can range from a piece of candy to chore passes to stickers. These are also fun to let the children initiate themselves, such as a child creating their own scavenger hunt for the others and whoever wins gets to do the next list.
My children will spend hours doing this, even if they aren’t getting prizes for winning. And the great thing about scavenger hunts is that you can make these educational and you can do them anywhere. Going to the zoo? The park? Grocery store? A long road trip? You’re covered. And it’s a great way for them to learn how to pay attention to their surroundings and to be observant. You’d be surprised at the creative things children come up with.
2. Interactive theater
As a group, let your children pick out a short book that they then must act out. They can then decide if they want to act out just one scene or the whole book. If you want to get creative, let them design their own costumes to go along with the story. Or just use one prop and an imagination. These can be recorded for them to watch as they’re older and to preserve memories of a rare moment in time when the kids are all actually getting along. Ah, the tranquility of no bickering and squawking! And if you’re on a budget, costumes aren’t required for this activity.
This activity helps children use their imagination as they decide on the voices and behaviors of the character they want to play. It improves their memory. It boosts their confidence and improves their speaking skills. Depending on the age of your children, this activity might be something where you can be hands off, which allows you the joy of getting to be surprised by what they’ve come up with. Lights, camera, action.
3. At home movie theater
For the sake of your mind, be willing to surrender your living room (if the children don’t have their own private area like a playroom) for a movie marathon. You can participate or you can use the downtime to relax and read a book or if you’re like me, work. Pop a couple of bags of popcorn, make some snacks that will stand up against time, and pick a theme. Then select three or four movies and let the kids go wild. Decorate the room to fit that theme. Design snacks to match. Wear themed clothing or costumes. Let the kids dress up as their favorite characters. The possibilities are endless with this. If your kids can’t agree on all the same movies, then allow each child to pick out one.
This is a great way to introduce your children to different cultures or time periods. You could pick a Chinese theme and show Mulan, Kung Fu Panda, and The Karate Kid. Serve Chinese food. Movies about animals? Let your kids show off their favorite animal with a picture or costume. Introduce them to classics like Homeward Bound and Wild America. Craft animal-themed snacks. And if you really want to keep them interactive, give them a scavenger hunt or a pop quiz designed around the movies they’ve watched.
Maybe what’s one Chinese word you heard? Or what’s something you learned about Chinese culture from watching these movies? Allow them to pick their own questions and have movie trivia. If you’re concerned about your children wasting time with technology, this is a good compromise. They get their TV time while you get to make sure they’re engaging and learning.
4. Art show
Let your kids do an art exhibit. Let them be as creative as they want, or that you can afford. Allow them to draw, sculpt, or paint based on a theme, such as the beach or the desert. Then allow your child to set up their own display. Maybe place the item front and center on the table. Or propped up on the mantle. This may require a little help from an adult or older sibling. Once all of the art has been placed around, have a pretend art exhibit where you walk from piece to piece. Have your child tell you about what they’ve designed, their inspiration for it, or how it was done.
Have your other children participate as well offering their opinions on their siblings’ work. You may have to warn them at first to be nice if you have teenagers and younger children as I do. But I have found that this is a great way to influence my kids to say nice things to each other instead of always fighting and insulting. On a few occasions, my older children would even offer to help teach their younger siblings something, which always warms my heart. Art truly is a thing of beauty.
5. Hide and seek
Hide and seek is a great way to keep your kids active. While it can be played indoors, you’ll want to make sure there are some rules that way it keeps an even playing field and keeps the kids out of sticky situations. My child once got stuck in the washing machine because she wanted a good hiding spot and I didn’t warn them to stay within certain parameters. That was a fun phone call to my father asking for help. When possible, it’s always more fun to let the kids do this outside. And as with all the other suggestions I’ve provided, this could be interactive as well. Perhaps the kids can only hide around something that starts with a T or a certain color.
This activity allows your children to get exercise, work on their numbers if they’re young enough to need to practice counting, and be observant as they’re having to really pay attention to the rules of the game. My kids are always finding new ways to add a new element to a basic game. As I type, they are playing hide and seek cartoon freeze tag, which apparently is when you hide and if you are tagged before you get to the base, you have to freeze and say a cartoon’s name and wait to be tagged before you get to try and run home. Instead of fighting over who’s next, they’re going in a consistent rotation and they seem to be having a lot of fun!
Parents, I hope this list of activities is something you and your children are able to enjoy. Tailor them to suit your lifestyle, your children’s interests. Chase away those summertime blues. Be happy. Be active. Be thankful for this time with your children. As I learned just yesterday, there are only 18 summers between the time your child is born until they are grown. Make the most of them.