Schools out and now it is time to plan Summer activities for kids. Whether the kids are in camps, on a family vacation or spending their summer at home with you, structure is important to keep everyone enjoying the break from school. Keeping kids entertained and organizing fun activities can be challenging seven days a week without a good plan and plenty of ideas. I thought I would share some of my organizing tips and ideas to make summer at home with kids easier and fun.
There are several components to organize a fun summer for the whole family. In this article, I will highlight each of them in detail below: Planning, Entertainment, Reward Systems, and Adventures.
Planning Your Days
When planning summer activities for kids, we all dream of summer with less obligations, no more school lunches to prepare and freedom to sleep later. However, the reality is parents still need to work. Camps fill in for school and you are still packing lunches each day. You have a lot to juggle if you are a stay at home parent , or a part-time stay at home parent like me, to keep everyone happy. In some ways the summer is even harder than the structured days of school. That’s why it is important to create a plan that will help everyone with daily expectations and give reasons not to declare pajama day every day.
First, I suggest creating themes for the weekdays to inspire activities and create predictability. Think of it as a summer camp for home. You can find an example of a theme week here:
Map out what activities you want to accomplish each week with an activity planning worksheet.
Take time to dream up everything you want to accomplish this summer. Create a bucket list the whole family contributes to. This will help you map out what you can achieve and what might not be in the cards this summer.
Preparing for daily outings or bigger trips is easier with a prepacked bag. Pack essential items like sunscreen, bug spray water bottles and snacks. Use packing list templates to plan what you need ahead of time. Lists help so you are not scrambling when you need to get out the door. Reuse the same list every time you go to the beach or the lake.
The more that you plan out the summer on your calendar the smoother your days will go. You can still build in more flexibility than the rest of the year. However, pre-planned activities will allow everyone some fun and keep the schedule moving. You won’t hear “I’m Bored” or “I’m hungry.” every five minutes!
Summer Entertainment for Kids
Having entertainment ideas to pull from during the Summer is essential in creating fun summer activities for kids. It will make Summer at home with the kids exciting and positive. Entertainment comes in many forms. Reading, games, crafts, sports, outdoor games, cooking, and screen time on television, tablets, computers and gaming systems fill time. Screens are less ideal for most parents. Without structure they can end up being too much a part of each day.
My kids walk in the house for five minutes and immediately say “I’m bored.” If you’re a parent who has not heard this refrain at least five times a day then you impress me already. To solve this problem in my house I created several printable items, included in my Summer Activity Pack to keep the entertainment flowing.
1. “I’m Bored Jar”
This template contains 50+ non-screen activity ideas on printable cards. Place them in a jar and have kids draw them when looking for something to do. You can easily make your own with slips of paper and creative ideas.
2. The Drawing Challenge Game
This printable game consists of over 50 cards to place in a jar or box with drawing ideas. Kids can pull them out for something to do alone or having a drawing contest with a friend.
3. The Building Challenge Game
The Building Challenge Game has over 250 ideas to build with Lego, blocks, or common household items. For example, build the tallest building you can, create your dream house, or build a wild west scene. Come up with your own challenges as a family and have some fun.
4. Treasure Hunt Cards
Indoor and Outdoor clues that can be found in most houses. Hide the cards and have each one lead you to the next clue . Use the last clue to find the treasure at the end.
5. Reading Logs & Book Mark Punches
There is nothing better than getting kids to read over the summer. It helps keep their skills strong, their minds learning or adventuring to fantastic places and it occupies time. Logging books on a chart can be motivating to reach individual reading goals for the end of the summer. The bookmark printable allows kids to track how many books they have read by punching holes on the bookmark. When completed they will have read 60 books.
6. Family Dinner Questions
Get conversation flowing at the dinner table and create a great family bonding experience. Learn about each other with questions about likes and dislikes, places you have been, and memories.
7. Game Ring of Ideas
Create a ring with game ideas the whole family can do with minimal props or common household items. Kids can grab it for inspiration playing with friends or parents can use it for quick ideas when boredom strikes.
There are so many ways you can be creative without too much prep work. Many parents devote entire blogs to creating ideas for you. Go out and find them to keep from getting in the screen cycle this Summer.
Reward System Activities for Kids
Another important component to Summer fun is having a good chore and reward system to keep kids on track. This helps the Summer not become a complete free for all. It also allows parents some frustration free time with kids home.
Outline activities you want kids to help with around the house using a chore chart. Have them help make their beds, put a way laundry, clear dishes etc. Work together to come up with a plan of what is expected and give them incentive to complete their daily chores. I like to use a printable chart in a clear binder sleeve with dry erase markers. In addition, you can also use a picture frame for the same effect and check off the chores completed each day.
Like chores, screen rules should be outlined up front during the Summer to limit endless “Can I use my iPad?” or “Can I play a video game?” questions all day long. I created The Screen Time Rules printable to give a checklist that kids should complete before settling down to screens for the day. Like the chore chart it can be placed in a clear binder sleeve or picture frame to be reused each day.
One of the most coveted rewards in our house is screen time. We dole it out sparingly. A great way to give kids the opportunity for more is have them earn “screen tickets” for chores. This template allows you to fill in the minutes earned. allowing you to set rules on when and how they can cash them in.
Activity coupons can also be a great way to encourage good behavior and completion of chores. This printable set includes many great family activities kids can earn.
Surprise tags make another fun reward system. Use them to announce a special trip, label a bag with an impromptu treat or toy. Create a series of surprises to reveal a big prize or vacation.
Summer Adventure Activities for Kids
One of the best parts of Summer is having time for fun adventures and vacations. Kids are always excited for the opportunity to do something new. Whether you plan a day trip, or a long vacation you will want to plan and document the fun. Here are some ways you can create memories and stay organized in the process.
Use a packing list to outline all the details for your longer trips. You can create different packing lists for a day adventure or a long adventure. Use them each time so you do not have to reinvent the wheel each time.
Working on a travel journal throughout the Summer is a great way for kids to practice their writing skills and track their memories. You can use a template like the one pictured below or a simple composition book.
A fun way for kids to learn geography and track their adventures is to keep a visual travel map log. You can use this printable to track travels around the US and the world. Add the page to your journal or keep it in a memory box to keep adding to.
Keep it Simple
Hopefully I have given you lots of ideas to keep your Summer busy, organized and fun for the whole family. All of the printables talked about are available in the Life’s Lists Summer Activity Pack. I love creating them and testing them on my own family. Summer activities do not have to be complicated…think about your childhood and what you loved to do in the Summer and you can go from there.