They’re the sounds that every parent grows to dread each summer: the moans and groans of “I’m bored!” from a chorus of kids. Sure, the novelty of a long, school-free stretch was fun at first, but after a week or two, the shiny promise of an unstructured day starts to wear off.
If you’re like most parents, you don’t get a summer vacation—and you don’t want to spend your warm-weather free time coming up with summer activities for kids at home, like an unpaid camp counselor. The solution? Prepare for the dog days by keeping kids busy with a few tricks and activities that require little time, low supervision, and will keep children of all ages occupied:
1. Messy Play Day
Summer is the best time to take advantage of the garden hose and let your kids get messy. Resigning yourself to the idea that your little ones want to get a bit dirty can help you brainstorm some entertaining activities. Invest in a water or sand table, like the Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark, or just fill storage bins with sand, water, or bubble soap. You can bring other substances into the equation, too, like a magic mud concoction (a two-to-one ratio of water and cornstarch), or just set out shallow dishes of inexpensive flour for outdoor play. When the kids get messy, they can hose off outside, get clean, and stay cool at the same time.
2. Neighborhood Olympics
If your kids are bored, chances are that the neighbor’s kids are feeling the same way. Organizing a “Neighborhood Olympics” and putting your older children in charge of running the games can help everyone stay busy and away from the TV or computer. Start by coming up with a few different events, like kickball, water balloon volleyball, or even tag at dusk by using fun, neon glowsticks in a safe area. Divide kids into teams and let the games begin!
3. Science Fair
Don’t let the summer rob your kids of all the stuff they learned during the school year. Summer activities for kids at home don’t always have to be outside or physical in nature. For kids who prefer indoor activities, a family science fair could be the perfect solution.
Start by visiting the library and choosing some science books on topics that interest your kids. Whether it’s rocks and geology or bugs, the trick is to let them lead and choose their own topics. Then, grab a few science kits, like the Eco Forensic Lab by MindWare, so you have the tools and materials on hand. Encourage your kids to work on their projects independently, and schedule time for them to present their “findings” to the rest of the family or a group of their friends.
4. Kitchen Competition
If your summer mission is keeping kids busy while saving your own sanity, put them to work! By recruiting your junior chefs to facilitate your meal plans, summer cooking can be both fun and convenient. You can even purchase savory Meals for Two from FreshDirect that require minimal prep and will make your kids feel like real culinary artists. Older kids and teens can chop ingredients, while younger kids can wash produce, assemble plates, and even decorate baked goods. Using meal kits and portioned ingredients means instructions are easy to follow—and there’ll be less to clean up after dinner.
Why listen to your kids whine all summer long? You don’t need to be a constant entertainer when you have a few summer tricks up your sleeve. If you enlist the help of your older kids and get the neighborhood in on the action, you’ll be able to kick back on the porch while your children stay busy (and active) with these summer activities for kids at home.