Summer fun with little ones
50 summer activities to keep the kids busy (and your sanity intact)
Does summer promise you lazy days, relaxing picnics and afternoon naps under a shady tree? No? You’re seeing bloated swim diapers, stained tank tops and melted ice cream on the couch? Hello, young parents. Summer greets you with open, sticky arms.
There, there. With a little creativity, those long-long-OMG-long days of summer will fly by in smiles. So stock up on Popsicles and bust out the plastic shovels—the sun’s about to shine.
Play in the water
Don’t worry—everything dries out, sooner or later.
- Bring out the hose and make puddles. There’s almost always an out-of-the-way spot in the yard, flower beds or…apartment building lobby?
- Sprinkler time! Squirt-gun time! Squirt-guns-in-the-sprinkler time!
- Give kids sponges to “wash” the car with tear-free baby shampoo.
- Fill up a bucket—or your kitchen sink—and hand out whisks, cups, tiny shovels and floating ducks. Stay close by—even a bucket can be a drowning hazard. (I’m a mom. I worry a little.)
- Spit fountains! Mouthfuls of water to spit, spray or drool down your chin. The four-year-old who gets to spit in your face is a happy four-year-old.
Bask in the sun
Break out the SPF 55—it’s the warmth you’re after, not the UV rays.
- Have a picnic in your front yard…or better yet, a tea party!
- Lie in the grass and look for cloud animals.
- Look at bugs. Careful with that magnifying glass in the sun!
- Try something new with sidewalk chalk.
- Eat Popsicles. Make your own frozen treats. Eat those, too.
- Jump, run, yell, scream, giggle and get those ya-yas out. See just how loud and crazy you can be.
- Treasure hunt! Scout the neighborhood for pretty rocks, bottle caps, coins, pop-tops and other ad hoc collectibles. Or hide surprises around the house for little seekers to find. Why should Easter have all the fun?
- Somewhere nearby, there’s a creek. In that creek, there are rocks. And in those rocks, there’s fun. Build dams. Find tadpoles, fish and other friends. Get muddy; get sloppy; get summer-ized.
- Jump rope.
- Play hopscotch.
Take a trip
A change of scenery is oh-so-good for everyone now and then.
- Zoo! Once a year might be enough. But less than that might not be.
- Find a new park…or visit an old favorite.
- Find a new swimming pool…or make the old one a daily stop.
- Visit every library in town. They can’t throw you out.
- Art museum! They can throw you out, but strollers are usually welcome.
- Visit Grandma!
On scorching summer days, air conditioning rocks.
- Use stickers.
- Play “Simon Says.”
- Build with clay.
- Dress up in silly costumes.
- Make blanket forts! Crawl in to read, tell stories or even nap.
- Have little hands “help” bake cookies.
- Make cute houses for stuffed animals out of boxes.
- Have lunch with the teddy bears.
- Make up a story.
- Put on a play.
Creating together is a sweet way to pass the time.
- Make rocks into animals by drawing faces on them.
- String noodle necklaces.
- Trace hands and color them.
- Draw each other’s portrait. Now do it “wrong-handed.” Fun!
- Glue magazine pictures into a collage.
- Use ink pads to make fingerprint art.
- Hang a tree swing.
- Build a clubhouse.
- Plant flowers along a path.
With little ones, just about anything qualifies!
- Play with a friend’s puppy.
- Fly a kite.
- Pack some bread and go feed the ducks.
- Temporary tattoos!
- Run outside to catch the ice cream truck.
- Chase lightning bugs.
- Hunt for fairies.
- Blow bubbles! Pop them. Blow more bubbles!
All this may seem obvious, but when you’ve spent months trying to entertain a tot or two, it’s easy to forget the fun that’s right under your nose, in your cabinets or just outside the door.
And remember, one day those little people of yours will be running off on adventures of their own, and you’ll wonder how the time went by so quickly. While they’re here, make them wish these summer days would never end.
Penny Krugman Howard is a freelance writer and freestyle mom. Even though sippy-cup summers are behind her, she remembers them like they were yesterday. Happily, she still keeps ice cream sandwiches in the freezer.