Summer Activities for Children
Posted on July 26, 2018 by CHS
Many families travel during the summer months and children have the opportunity to see new places and try different things. Summer trips are fun, but even if you decide not to travel you can still enjoy doing fun activities with your child at home. The following are ideas for inexpensive summer activities you can do with children at home.
Start by preparing an activity kit your child can use to entertain herself while traveling in a car, plane, or other transportation. Use a backpack that is small enough for your child to carry by herself. Fill the backpack with some necessities like a sweater in case it gets cold at night, a couple of granola bars, and a small bottle of water. Keep toxic materials like sunscreen or bug spray in your own backpack.
Help your child select a few items that can be used for comfort or play while you take field trips or visit friends. Make sure that none of the items are sensitive to heat (like crayons) or difficult to replace if lost or broken, and set a limit for the amount of objects that can be packed. Possible items could include: action figures, dolls, stuffed animals, books, drawing paper with colored pencils, small puzzles, card games (if you have more than one child), toy cars, fidget toys, or hand-held games.
Activities for Infants and Toddlers
Remember that even if toys and activities are safe, it is still important to supervise infants and toddlers closely while they play. Avoid items with strings or toys that are too small to go through a paper towel tube as these items may be choking hazards. Infants who are not able to sit unassisted can be placed on their tummies to play.
Place a variety of small rattles and toys that have different textures in front of infants. Give them the opportunity to experiment with sound by placing items on a shallow pan or plastic tray so they can make a banging noise. You can also make sensory bags or sensory bottles and place them in front of infants. Talk with them about the sounds, colors, and textures they are experiencing.
Once infants are able to sit independently, you can place them in a small plastic wading pool and use a spray bottle filled with water to spray their legs, chest, and arms. You can also place wet sponges in the pool for them to explore. If it isn’t hot enough for water play, you can use the wading pool as a moveable play space. Place some pots and pans with wooden spoons or plastic spatulas in the pool so babies can vocalize, make music, and explore different sounds.
Once infants are walking, you can turn the wading pool into a sand box with buckets, scoops, and measuring cups. Add a little water to make it a mud pool or use it as a special play area by lining the pool with a blanket and placing some pillows and books inside to create a reading nook. Allow toddlers to build with cardboard boxes and cardboard tubes. If you have a large cardboard box it can be a house, or turn it into a tunnel to crawl through.
Play water tag with toddlers outside in the grass. Fill a spray bottle with water and “tag” their feet while they run. Place wet sponges in a bucket and throw them at a wall or fence, or put on swimsuits and throw them at each other! Find more ideas on the Bright Hub Education websites.
Activities for Preschool Children
On days when it’s too hot to be outside, children can help make the same sensory bags and bottles that infants and toddlers enjoy. They can also help make no-cook playdough and then enjoy playing with it afterwards. Add cookie cutters or small wooden dowels to make the playdough more interesting. Children can also make simple summer treats like popsicles or homemade ice cream.
If children are inside they can get some exercise by bowling with rolled up socks and plastic bottles, playing musical chairs, Simon Says, or hot potato. Play freeze dance with music that you can easily stop and start. Invite children to dance and explain that when the music stops they need to freeze until the music starts again.
Make sensory bins to play with outside. Click here to see some ideas for sensory bins. Fill a dish tub or plastic wading pool with sand and water, and then add old cooking utensils to make a mud kitchen. Add plastic animals, or measuring cups, spoons, and scoops for more fun. Turn the wading pool into a place for making giant bubbles with water, dish soap, and a hula hoop.
Visit a local park to explore nature. Go on a nature scavenger hunt for bugs, birds, colors, shapes, and other items. Collect fallen nature items like leaves or petals for crafts. If clouds are out, lay on the grass and look up for shapes and pictures in the clouds. Parks are also a great place for active play like swinging, climbing, running, or playing sports.
Plan a camping trip in your backyard. Use a rope, four rocks, and a large bedsheet to make a simple tent. Build a pretend campfire ring with rocks and sticks, and add a couple of pots and pans for cooking. Teach children about fishing with these activities from Project Wild.
Make time for quiet activities like reading, drawing, puzzles, and craft projects. If you don’t have a lot of storage space for quiet activities, you can make these busy bags. Find more ideas for art projects and activities on the Fun-A-Day website.
Activities for School Age Children
Limit time children spend using digital devices and encourage them to play outside. Talk to other friends and neighbors with children the same age and take turns driving children to nearby parks where they can play and exercise. Explore nature in the park with a scavenger hunt or help your child make a kite they can take to the park and fly.
Children can use sidewalk chalk to draw pictures or create games like hopscotch, frogs on a lily pad, or four square. View this video to see how to play chalk games. Jumping rope is a great way to exercise and help children develop balance and coordination. Three or more children can play jump rope games together.
Hold your own summer Olympics. Invite other children from your family or neighborhood to join you for a day of sports. Children can decide what sports will be played, create medals for participants, make signs, decide on rules, nominate judges, etc. Invite other families joining you to bring food to share and enjoy the day!
Stay cool with water play outside. Set up a sprinkler children can run through, juggle wet sponges, use spray bottles to play water tag, or visit a nearby splash pad or community pool. It is important to supervise water play closely. Click here to read important safety tips for using swimming pools. For more water play ideas, visit the Kid Activities website.
Encourage children to play traditional board games like Chutes and Ladders, Battleship, Monopoly, Sorry, or Pictionary. Children can also make their own board games. Teach children a new card game or a strategy game like chess or checkers.
Allow time for relaxing activities like reading, listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or music, and being creative. Save items that can be recycled and invite your child to make them into a work of art with one of these ideas from the FaveCrafts website.
Visit your public library to participate in story time, book clubs, and other free events. On your city’s website, you can look up the parks and recreation page to see what parks are near you and learn about free events. Many parks offer free music nights and other family events throughout the summer. The city website will also have information about local museums and historical sites you can visit with your children.