Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keep Those Kids Busy Making Summer Memories

I know that many of you have kids or grandkids who will be around your house this summer, now that school's out. The first week, they usually occupy themselves because they are so happy to have free time and not be in a classroom. After that, they start looking for things to do, or attempt to slouch on the couch in front of TV or video games. But, do you really want that for your children/grandchidren? Or do you want them to have fond memories of summer and time spent with you, playing outside?

I will admit that mine spent a certain amount of time in front of the TV and video games cooling off in the air conditioning, but it's nice to have at least a list of things that you want to do with them this summer, so that those special times are observed and don't slip past. Today I'm offering a list of ideas to get you started, please add your own fond memories of childhood to pass down.

-Go to Library Summer Reading Program and pack their lunchboxes for an outside picnic afterwards

-set up a lemonade stand

-line up empty plastic juice bottles for target practice w/ a sling shot or just a rubber band (outside)

-paint rocks with old nail polish or other old paint; smiley faces, flowers, bugs, your initials- they make great paperweights for gifts or child's own desk

-Put up a tent in backyard and "camp out"; if no tent, let them drag their sleeping bags into the family room floor. Tell stories by flashlight, make shadow animals, make s'mores (you can melt the choc-marshmallow filling in the microwave on defrost), sing camp songs

-have a pirate gold digging expedition(my Dad did this for our oldest two one summer and they never forgot it!) you have to paint rocks w/ gold spray paint ahead of time and hide them in a sandy or dirt patch in your yard or landscaping. Give them a pouch and a buried treasure map.

-make lunch a picnic! Throw down a plastic tablecloth on the back deck, backyard or porch and serve whatever you were planning for lunch, anyway.

-Tie dye shirts

-Make a driving obstacle coarse in your driveway w/ soccer cones and empty boxes for the big wheel drivers and skaters to maneuver. An open-end refrigerator box makes a tunnel for Big Wheel drivers!

-Help them make a photo mobile for their room using computer-printed photos of their family, friends and pets (or a wall collage).

-Do messy fun projects out on the back porch or deck: make a volcano that erupts w/ soda and vinegar; make slime; playdough, salt dough figures to bake; do finger painting.

-Stretch out rolls of brown or white parcel paper (outside) and let them use rubber stamps and paint to stamp personalized gift wrap and cards for the coming holidays (we did dinosaur wrap one summer). No rubber stamps, use half a potato and carve a design on it to stamp with.

-Make old sock puppets and a cardboard theater and have a puppet show.

-Make pop rockets w/ old film cannisters (I'll have to hunt for this recipe and will include it in a later post w/ instructions for play dough, etc) We made these for library program and our VBS one summer and the boys really liked them!

-Take them to VBS

-Read Green Eggs and Ham and then put a little green food coloring in the scrambled eggs for breakfast or lunch.

-Memorize the names of the Presidents in order or the books of the Bible; this is made easier if you use the singing method; offer a small prize or treat as a reward.

-Take them to swim lessons-some places offer them for free, or teach them yourself; take lots of pictures, the pool water is a great backdrop for summer pictures.

-If you have a child who loves cars and trucks and big equipment: take him to watch a construction project, let him wear his hard hat and keep at a safe distance.
- Buy a bag of pea gravel and enough landscaping timbers to corral it and make him a gravel pit in a shady corner of the yard; he can drive, scoop and dig to his heart's content! My husband made one of these for our youngest son and he loved it! He made ramps and tunnels for his cars to go through and spent a lot of time in the gravel pit. Be forewarned, he looked like he was a construction worker when he was finished. He had to be wiped down to come in the house.

-Make pet rocks with craft scraps; make a home for the pet rock with a shoe box that they can decorate. Our son named his Earl Grey because that was the name printed on his wooden tea-crate home!

-Take pictures of the special times in the summer and make a little photo album for each child

-Teach the dog some tricks (how to jump through a hula hoop)

-put some water in the plastic kiddie pool and let the dog chase tennis balls into the pool; let kids take silly pics of dog w/ sunglasses on.

-get out the sprinkler, water guns and water balloons!

-Teach your kids kick ball and freeze tag

-capture lightening bugs, caterpillars, lizards, ants in a jar w/holes punched in the lid and observe them, then release them back into "the wild"

-keep a turtle as a short-term backyard pet, then return him to "the wild" so he can find a girlfriend (Box Turtles love strawberries and lettuce ...and trips on vacation to was a scouting project for a merit badge, and we couldn't leave "Speedy" at home!

-Pour pancake batter into shapes of Mickey Mouse, or letters that spell out the child's name for a morning surprise; every one that lived- at or stayed- at my house loved this! Chocolate chips in the pancakes are a fun, less messy surprise(oldest son had these at a friend's sleepover and it became a favorite at our house). The "surprise" was on me one Saturday morning when I heard one little visiting nephew whisper loudly to his little sister," Go ahead and ask her, I'm sure Aunt Marcia can make a pancake just like Cinderella's carriage"...whoa! me and my big ideas!
(Here's a shout-out to Hayley and Seth!)

-Teach them one of your interests: woodworking, cooking, scrapbooking, gardening. This can become a shared interest for a lifetime! My boys still remember my dad making bird houses and a sled with them.

Please send me your great kid-friendly ideas, and memories of childhood summers; leave them in my comments. Happy Summertime!

Join me today at WorksforMeWednesday at WeAreThat Family


  1. This is a great list. A little imagination is all it takes to have a great summer. Thanks for the suggestions.

  2. These are great! I've been so frustrated this week because it has rained EVERY DAY! You thought of plenty of indoor activities which helps on weeks like this.
    Otherwise, my kids really love to play card games, like UNO and Skipbo. We take them everywhere.

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog! This is an awesome list, and one that will help me out immensely, with my two boys. Thanks for posting it.

  4. Great list! I'm always looking for ideas to keep my guys entertained. Sometimes it's hard when they days are so long! Thanks!

  5. These are great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  6. great ideas! i love the gravel pit idea, my boys would LOVE that. We have such a small back yard and it's soo hot and very mosquito ridden, that outside play in the yard in the summer is almost impossible, sadly...

  7. Great list. I linked up here:

  8. Thank you for linking to my post! It will help me reach more moms with children at home.