Summer is a time of beaches, sand, swimming, hiking, camping, and other family outdoor activities. Sometimes, however, even the biggest fan of the local swimming pool needs a change of pace. Here are some creative and goofy ways you can incorporate even more fun into summer days with your kids.
Bring on the pirates! Turn the yard or your living room into rough, pirating waters. Turn boxes into ships of legends and grab red bandanas for costumes. Create a treasure hunt for the kids by making a map and soaking the paper in a few tablespoons of cold coffee or tea for an authentic look. If you are really feeling creative, burn the edges of the paper and roll it up and seal it with wax. Use landmarks (swing sets, the tree in the backyard, the toy box, etc.). If you are able, actually bury the treasure, protected in a shoe box or small plastic tote, in the yard, a garden, or the sandbox. If digging is not an option, use something else that the kids will have to uncover to find the treasure. Chocolate coins and play jewelry are basic treasure fill items, but you can add things like fun pencils, sunglasses, water bottles, or a coupon to stay up late to watch shooting stars.
Mow the lawn in a goofy pattern – a miniature baseball diamond, soccer field, football field, or even gigantic hop-scotch grid! Just lower the blades on the mower and create some original backyard fun! My kids love to use the football field grid I mow to play other games, such as Ships Across the Ocean, or even just to use it as a square track for running. If you have limited space, use lawn-friendly spray paint from your local hardware store and create a design that will wash away in a couple of days. You could paint a target for bean bags or just straight lines for fall-proof balance beams for the youngest kids.
Have a bike wash station and invite the neighbors! Put a new twist on neighborhood car washes and set up kid friendly bike and wagon washing stations. Fill large totes or dish pans with soapy water, collect rags or sponges and add those to a bucket, and get out the WD40 or another grease-cutter for sprucing up those gears. Finish off the washing station with a box of bike decorating supplies. These can include old decks of cards for the spokes, miniature license plates with letter and number stickers (made from rectangular plastic storage ware lids with holes punched through the top for tying to bikes), small baskets to attach with zip ties, or glitter glue and stickers for decorating those hand-me-down bikes that have seen better days. Don’t forget to spruce up your own bike and then have a parade down the sidewalk!
Blow bubbles. Yes – it is a standard summer activity for young kids, but you can make this one more memorable by grabbing a kiddie pool and filling it with a couple of gallons of bubble liquid. Large quantities of bubble liquid can often be found inexpensively at dollar or general stores, and you can add dish detergent for stronger creations. Instead of using small hand wands, have your child stand on a small stool in the middle of the pool and try to pull a bubble up and around him by using a hula hoop.
Serve everything on a stick. Summer is the quintessential time of county and state fairs where everything you can imagine eating is served on a stick – even candy bars and pizza. Create your own concoctions and serve an entire meal on a stick. You can grill hot dogs and slide them onto skewers before serving, take paper cups and freeze yogurt smoothies in them with craft sticks for handles, or cover a stick, dip it in honey or peanut butter, and then roll it in cereal, nuts, raisins, or trail mix. Chill or freeze before serving. There are almost no limits to what you can serve on a stick for backyard summer fun!
Other fun things to do with your kids this summer
- Decorate flip flops with fabric paints or by tying short strips of fabric to the straps.
- Go on a bird tagging expedition with a local ornithologist group.
- Try geocaching or letterboxing.
- Press flowers into large books to frame or use as artwork.
- Head to the ice rink to cool off on a hot day.
- Get a bug ID chart online, at the library or bookstore, and go on a backyard bug hunt.
- Find a drive-in movie theatre and order some popcorn!
- Go metal detecting at local sand pit volleyball court.