Summer is going to look a lot different for many families this year. After months at home with parents trying to balance online school and working virtually, parents are already feeling pretty burnt out. On top of that, just trying to keep kids occupied at home when they haven’t been able to play with friends or go to their normal activities has been exhausting. It literally feels like you have done ALL. The. Things.
Now, for kids across the country typical summer activities like camps and sports have been cancelled and most summer travel plans are delayed indefinitely. Parents are looking at the coming months and are overwhelmed trying to figure out how they are going to keep their kids entertained and happy, while not losing their ever loving minds.
What parents need right now are fresh ideas, resources and encouragement and that’s what we are planning to provide. On the blog as well as on our social media platforms (Pinterest, FB and Instagram) we’ll be giving you tons of easy things you can use to save summer and your sanity.
Choose Your Own Adventure Summer
Here’s the deal. This is not a one size fits all approach. There are moms who will want and appreciate a clearly laid out plan for each week of the summer and others who like to fly by the seat of their pants a little bit more and will want to just pick and choose as need. Or Maybe you are somewhere in between. This isn’t about pressuring you to be perfect or make the summer perfect, its just about giving you tools to make the best of things.
So, here is a general overview of ideas and approaches you can consider if you kind of want to DIY your own summer plan. However, we will also be developing weekly posts that incorporate all of these if you want something more structured. We’ll add the links to this post as we publish the weekly plan or you can also subscribe to our weekly email newsletter and we’ll keep you in the loop.
Sometimes it’s hard to know even where to begin when it comes to figuring out how your going to keep the kiddos busy all summer long, but themes are a great place to start. You can go all out with themed weeks, which is what we will be providing. For eight weeks, we’re going to cover everything from Star Wars and Disney to the Olympics and a good old fashioned throw back 80’s summer. There will be activities, crafts, games, recipes and educational fun all thrown in.
However, you can also just create your own themed activities like water days or nature days or even days built around favorite books or movies or TV characters. Many families have had success with travel themed weeks, where each week they “visit” another country. This includes finding virtual tours of famous sites or museums, having kids read books on the destination, watching movies set there and preparing special meals from the country or region. There are so many ways to use themes to engage kids and make summer feel like an adventure right in your very own home.
Summer Activities (Screen Free)
Most parents are feeling like they’ve pretty much done all the biking, hiking, playing in the yard, chalk coloring, game board playing they can stand and they’re running out of original ideas for the coming months. However, here is just a list of few new ideas you might not have done yet or even if you’ve done them before, you could put them on a rotation to keep things interesting.
Minute To Win It Games
Lego Challenge Games
Create Your Own Backyard Ninja Warrior Course
– Mystery Puzzles
– Kids Logic Puzzles
Plant a Garden
Create a Fairy Garden
Escape Room at Home:
– Escape the Crate
– DIY Escape Room
– Escape Room Game
Start a Family Project
– Build a Bird Feeder
– Redecorate their rooms
Community Service Projects
Study the Stars
Make A Family Summer Playlist and Have Daily Dance Parties
Outdoor Movie Nights
Cook and Bake Stuff
Play Outside Games
Play Pool Games
Build Your Own TeePee
Research Your Family Tree
Build a Model Plane (or car or whatever)
For other ideas check out: 100 Screen Free Activities for Kids or Easy Activities for Kids When Your Stuck Inside.
Paint Rocks and Leave Them For Others To Find
– check FB for groups near you where people post when they find the rocks!
Throwback Tie Dye
Make Friendship Bracelets
Learn to Paint Watercolors
– check Youtube for “how tos”
Create Thumbprint Art
Write and Draw A Comic Book
Learn Photography Basics (p.s. tons of fun with an old school polaroid)
Make Shrinky Dinks (yes, they totally still exist!)
Paint with Straws
Get Creative with Clay
Create a Word Cloud Collage
Make DIY Discovery Eggs
Get Crazy with Cardboard Boxes
Create an Artsy Collage
DIY Funny Face Flip Book
Make Some Harry Potter Origami
Build Permanent Sandcastles Inside
Paint with Skittles
Using Technology For Educational Fun
First, if you’re having guilt about all the screens, just stop! Things are hard enough right now and you don’t need to add that to all the worries you are carrying on your shoulders. Screens and technology in general can be used for good believe it or not. And there are tons of fun ways you can combine using technology to keep your kiddos occupied with actually enriching their lives with educational content too.
Okay, straight up not even going to lie here, this is not for all kids or parents. Many kids want to race into summer and leave anything that sounds remotely like school in the rear view mirror. And lots of parents are completely over any kind of virtual education. BUT if you’ve got kids that do well with online learning, there are some really amazing online classes.
Plus, many of these online classes aren’t anything like this crisis schooling stuff they’ve been suffering through the last few months. The topics are fun and engaging. You will find some of the best offerings available for kids when it comes to online classes at Outschool. Just to give you a few examples of their non-traditional offerings:
Percy Jackson Summer Camp: In this five day camp, students will create their own Demigod character, participate in Camp Half-Blood crafts, and discuss “The Lightning Thief”.
Python Programming for Beginners – 12 Week Harry Potter Flex Edition:
In this 12 week flex course, students will learn the basics of python programming using fun and interesting examples from the world of Harry Potter, perfect for beginner wizard and muggle coders alike!
Hopefully all these ideas will give you some tools to make life this summer both fun for you kids and less stressful for you. However, also remember that in some ways this free time we’ve been given is a gift. Our lives have gotten so busy and over scheduled these days and it’s taken a toll on our kids. Having unstructured time and being bored is actually supposed to be part of childhood and it’s good for them. It’s in those open spaces that they let their minds roam and their imaginations develop. So, don’t be afraid to just NOT plan stuff and let them figure it out for themselves sometimes.
Other Educational Tech Resources
Educational Apps for Kids
10 Apps To Prevent Summer Slide
Technology Just for Fun!
Oh and it is just fine if sometimes you let your kids spend a whole day binge watching moves or their favorite shows on TV. Cuddle in with them if you can and just enjoy these moments while they last. But if maybe you’re looking for a few better quality options, check these out:
Kids TV Shows That Will Keep Them From Growing Up Too Fast (Kindergarten to Preteen)
Build Life Skills
Summer doesn’t have to be all about fun, you can throw some life learning in there too. In the activities, we already talked about cooking with your kids and doing some family projects. In the tech section there is an opportunity to tie chores to earning tech time. So, if you’re kids haven’t been pulling their weight when it comes to contributing to household responsibilities, now is the perfect time to recruit them. And beyond chores, we hear all the time these days how kids are lacking basic life skills, so take this opportunity to help them learn.
Hopefully, all these ideas will help you not only make this summer fun despite the circumstances, but also save what is left of your sanity. But remember, childhood wasn’t designed to always be about structure and non-stop entertainment. Not only is it okay for kids to be bored this summer, but it’s good for them.
The over-scheduled lives that have become our norm have been stressing our kids out for awhile now, so let them enjoy the gift of of time and freedom that we’ve been temporarily given. You might just be surprised to see how they thrive when we give them permission to just do nothing and the space to let their imaginations take hold.
Raising school age kids is both a magical and challenging time of parenting, here are a few more resources to make it more fun and less stressful.