By in Family

How Can I Keep Kids Happy in the Summertime?

This post is a response to Kasman 's question about things to do with kids during the summer holiday . We have four kids who range in age from 10 to 17, one of whom is developmentally about age 4. We often have k_mccormick2 's 5- and 7-year-old along with us for the day as well, so we have to get creative about the kinds of activities we plan so all the kids are safe and happy.

Free Stuff to Do Outdoors

Nature walks, bike rides, trips to the library, geocaching and its spin-offs are all free of charge. Gardening can be done without much fuss or expense, as can cooking or baking with kids. Even a trip to the grocery store or the farmer's market is an outing that many kids enjoy.

A trip to a flea market, garage sale or thrift shop can be great fun as a family. You might even find an inexpensive piece of furniture you want to upcycle! Yard work and other chores are fine. But so are picnics and trips to the park, and a day spent picking berries at the local u-pick.

Stuff to Do in the City

Urban parks departments often run free summer activities in the park at least periodically, and swimming lessons also tend to be inexpensive compared to options like day camp. A day at the pool or the public beach is also usually quite inexpensive – and if you happen to have access to a swimming hole it can be absolutely free. Bring along a packed lunch, or plan to have a barbecue.

Also in the city, many museums have very low family rate s and may even allow free access to at least part of their collection. Some even run family programming aimed at younger kids

Stuff to Do Indoors

On a rainy day, try getting out the board games or the playing cards, or playing charades and I Spy with kids. Or create a dress-up box. Or give them some paper bags or old socks to make puppets, and a cardboard box for a stage. Tell each other stories and jokes, or do a little improv.

If you are the crafty type, kids love to do all sorts of simple crafts. You can do decoupage or scrapbooking, or make beads from old newspapers and magazines. Make friendship bracelets from craps of yarn or crochet cotton. And there are probably a zillion free videos and printable craft kits available online!

If you're a musical family have a jam session. If not, try an informal sing along. Create inexpensive instruments from stuff in your kitchen or recycling bin. Play a few songs you used to like when you were their age, and get them to share some of their favourites with you. You can all dance around the living room shaking yogurt cup maracas and tapping wooden spoons on pots and pans!

Kind Stuff You Can Do

Volunteer as a family. The local animal shelter, food bank, or college greenhouse will generally accept teen volunteers. But many organizations also encourage families to bring in their younger kids too. Sometimes this can mean a free meal or some food to bring home, and the older kids might even get school credit for volunteering. Of course, if you find a cause you support, just knowing you're helping is reward enough by itself.

Visit a nursing home and help to run a bingo or a movie night. Or check in on an elderly neighbour whose grandkids can't come by to visit very often. Help to clean up an abandoned lot or to set up a free book exchange in your community. Sort through old clothes or toys that could be given to charity, or make a quilt or afghan to send to someone in need.

Stuff to Challenge You

Take advantage of all the myriad documentaries and virtual museum exhibits you can access free online. Learn about another culture or place on the earth, or explore a new genre of song or dance. Listen to free audiobooks together, or maybe even volunteer to read a book at Librivox . Lean how to edit graphics, make sound recordings, or create your own videos.

Print off some free word or logic puzzles to do together. Do some Sudoku. Check out the art study and composer studies at the Ambleside Online web site, and while you're at it check out all the other cool stuff they have to offer! There are a huge number of links to free digital texts – from fairy tales and classic kids' literature, to natural history and social studies books that are aimed at kids. Fill in some of the gaps left by today's test-centered education, prevent summer learning loss, and maybe discover a passion for a new subject area. Will kids really want to “do school” in the summer? If you just present it as cool stuff to check out, sure!

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Image credit: © Kyla Matton Osborne

Image Credit » Kyla Matton Osborne

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cheri wrote on July 13, 2015, 10:18 PM

These are good ideas. My kids are just happy with their gadgets at home but at times I give them something to do.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 13, 2015, 10:32 PM

Yup, my kids love their gadgets too! And I have two who go away for the whole summer now. But when the little guys visit, we still need to find ways to amuse them emoticon :smile:

wolfgirl569 wrote on July 13, 2015, 11:11 PM

My kids were easy to amuse. They had a large field to play in and an empty tack line to ride their bikes on. But those are all great ideas

MegL wrote on July 14, 2015, 9:16 AM

I have just come back from Wales and brought my eldest granddaughter a poster with the multiplication tables on it in Welsh. Of course, the numbers are the same. I thought she might have been annoyed with being given a maths poster but she loves it! Kids are always surprising!

AudreyHowitt wrote on July 14, 2015, 7:35 PM

What great ideas Ruby! Kids can get bored when not directed--as can we!

WordChazer wrote on July 15, 2015, 4:39 AM

Our local kids are mainly older boys and younger girls so the boys have a football/soccer ball, shoot hoops, ride bikes and scooters while the girls run round with chalks decorating the sidewalks or have teaparties for teddy bears and passing adults. We live in a village with a traditional village green and play area, there are footpaths crossing the interior of the village and a nature trail around the outside of it. The youngsters here are unfailingly polite, which helps. I said hi to a group of them that I knew a couple of the other day and one of them replied 'well, I don't know who you are, but hello anyway!' with a big grin. Made me smile to myself. I like your ideas for keeping them occupied at low cost - too many parents over here have no clue about that kind of thing and so the youngsters spend all day indoors with their computer games.

ViperGirl85 wrote on July 18, 2015, 11:59 PM

I think we need to find more free stuff to do around here for the kiddies, even if it's just at the library.