Fun in the Sun: Activities to Stay Engaged This Summer
School’s out for summer! For many, summertime is a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the year, a time to relax and have fun in the sun. It’s also be a great time to develop new skills or bodies or knowledge that we don’t learn at school or work! We’ve put together a list of fun, easy, and accessible activities for every age group to try something new this season and stay engaged in their lifelong learning:
- Take a nature walk
- Through the neighborhood, to a local park, or if you have time check out a regional, state, or national park near you! Make sure you have the proper parking pass and bring plenty of snacks and water for you and your littles. Turn your walk into a scavenger hunt, see if your littles can find flowers, birds, rocks, footprints or bugs! They can collect items from their walk and then make a collage when you get home. Being outside helps children develop large and fine motor skills as well as fuels their imagination and curiosity.
- Get creative with recycled material crafts
- Cereal boxes, paper towel rolls, yogurt containers, shipping boxes, old magazines, and soda bottles can all find new life in arts and crafts with your littles!
- Use these materials for papier mache, to build a fort, make an instrument or create a collage!
- Learn a language together
- Pick a language(s) that you might also be interested in learning – each week pick a word or phrase to introduce into your vocabulary and use it regularly. There are a lot of free resources online, including the phone app Duolingo, that can help you pick new words each week.
- Large motor skill development
- Throwing, catching, and kicking a ball, dancing, baby yoga, obstacle courses, climbing, swimming are all ways that your littles can develop their large motor skills through active play and experiences. Make sure to keep in mind the average ‘motor skills milestones’ for your child’s age.
- Volunteer together
- It’s never too early to instill the values of altruism, care, and service in our little ones. They are the keys to our future! Enlist their help for a neighborhood cleanup or to go through their clothes and toys for donations to local shelters.
- Conduct a science experiment
- Put on a play!
- Help you child reenact their favorite book or movie – DIY costumes and all! Or let them craft a tale of their own! Put on a show for an audience of stuffed animals or family.
- First library card
- Build responsibility and ownership with your elementary kiddos by taking them to get their very own library card. Many libraries have summer reading contests that they can participate in and receive fun prizes!
- Positive affirmations and gratitude
- Start your mornings together with positive affirmations and motivation and end your days with gratitude. These words are powerful to develop self esteem and self worth, respect and kindness, and appreciation.
- Start a ‘business’ – lemonade stand, garage sale, etc.
- Fuel your kiddos entrepreneurial spirit! Come up with a business name, set business goals, and discuss the responsibilities of a good business owner. Help your kiddos interact with customers and handle the cash. And then let them save or spend their earnings how they wish 🙂
- Write letters
- To anyone! Grandparents, family friends, and penpals (even those that live just down the street) still love to receive thoughtful, handwritten letters. Your children will practice their writing skills while also focusing on staying connected to important people in their lives.
- Start a fundraiser
- Collect pennies, cans, dog food, clothing and let your child to decide what cause or organization to donate the items to! Let them make the donation in their own name. Talk to them about how it feels to give back to their community.
- Plan an activity for the family
- Let your kid(s) collaborate to come up with an activity that will be fun and inclusive for the whole family. Let them plan all the details – who, what, when, where, why and have fun seeing what they come up with. Planning an activity requires responsibility, agency, and commitment!
- ‘Yes’ Days
- The premise the book Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is that “No matter how silly the requests, there is one day a year when kids always receive positive answers: Can I have pizza for breakfast? Yes! Can we have a food fight? Yes! Can I stay up really late? Yes! This day is simply called Yes Day and it’s the best day of the year.” This idea might sound terrifying as a parent, but don’t be alarmed, Yes Days still come with groundrules set by you!
- Amazing Race
- This activity takes a little to a lot more preparation on your part. One of my favorite memories as a child is that my parents organized an ‘Amazing Race’ for me and my brother. We each got to pick our teams and duel head to head in a battle of wits and strength. We did activities like a scavenger hunt and an archery contest, but you can also plan relay races, minute-to-win-it games, and brainteasers like the Baseball Thinking Game.
Middle School/High School (12-18yrs)
- At the family reunion have them lead a game or team building activity with everybody!
- Good old fashioned road trip games
- Here are some new takes on old fashioned road trip games that will help to pass the time while also getting your kids to think critically, problem solve, and laugh together.
- Get into a museum for free (or for a discount)!
- Many smaller museums offer free admission and often some of the larger museums have free or reduced rate days each month so that you and your family can enjoy arts, history, science and culture without breaking the bank.
- Use your child’s allowance or wages to help teach them smart budgeting practices! I know it’s not the most glamorous activity to do together, but it develops soft skills like goal setting and accountability as well as the technical skills of money management and long term planning. Use this activity to get started!
- Tech free day!
- Choose a day for the family to unplug from technology – that means no cellphones, no game consoles, no TV, no laptop or iPad, no radio even! These days can be really challenging for me personally, for the first few attempts make sure have some structured time together to play board games, go on a walk, or cook or garden together. Having things to do will help keep your kids busy and not thinking about what they are missing on Snapchat!
- Self care calendar
- The demands of school and sports and life only go up from middle school and high school. Remind your kids to practice good self care habits by reading up on the basics and putting 21 Days of Self Care activities on the calendar.
- Geocaching is the world’s largest modern treasure hunt! ‘When I was a kid’ before smart phones, we used GPS systems to navigate to these caches of goodies but nowadays you can also use your phones. When you find them you can enter your name in the logbook, and trade any knick knacks that you find, just make sure if you take something from the geocache that you add something to it in return!
- Job shadowing and internships
- Resume, professional dress, and interviewing are all important skills that can help your child land a job shadowing opportunity, internship or first job! Have your student do some research to find a job or career that they are interested in and have them prepare to ask about different learning opportunities in that industry. If a business or professional doesn’t offer internships, many times they will let students shadow them for a day at work or interview them to learn more about what they do for a living. Help your student to prepare good questions to ask!
Big Kids! (Adults :D)
- Host a Mafia night!
- Mafia is a high energy card game that can be played with kids, family, and friends!
- Arts/Music/Movies/Taste Of Festivals
- Most cities have some sort of festivals or fairs that allow you to explore more without going too far! Check out the best of what your hometown has to offer in food, music, art, and movies by checking local event calendars and bulletin boards in your area.
- Join an Adult League
- Ultimate Frisbee, Softball, Bowling, Dodgeball, Basketball, Soccer, you name it there is an adult sports league out there for you! Most of the time these clubs are more social than competitive but they get you exercising and meeting people with similar interests in your area!
- Take a community class
- Most city websites list low cost community recreation classes in topics like the arts, languages, technical skills, exercise classes, baby and me classes and more! Inspire life long learning by finding a class in a topic or skill that you’ve been wanting to learn or master but haven’t known where to begin.
- Date nights (with friends and significant others!)
- Brainstorm ideas together of places you’ve wanted to eat, places you’ve wanted to go or activities you’ve wanted to do together. Write all of these ideas on pieces of paper or popsicle sticks and each date night draw your date night idea out of a jar to make it a surprise!
- Gratitude journal
- Instead of checking social media before bed each night, start a gratitude journal and spend even just a few minutes writing down the good things that happened that day that you are grateful for, no matter how small!
The world is your oyster! No matter what your plans are for this summer, there are endless possibilities to engage your family in activities that inspire learning, leadership, service, and other skills that might not be taught in school! Go forth and have fun! Share some of your favorite summer activities and learning experiences in the comments!
*Meet the Author*
Caelan Cooney is another Millennial who wants ‘to make an impact’, a self-proclaimed movie critic, avid explorer, lifelong learner, and Chapman University graduate.