Summer has officially arrived!
After 3 months of lockdown (with kids), you may be approaching your wit’s end. Rest assured, you are not alone. Many parents are feeling the burnout of having to entertain their children while also attempting to work from home. Needless to say, it has been a challenge.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of fun activities for children to try alone or with their families. Below, you will find:
The best news: Most of the entertainment options listed are free! Enjoy!
Make A Movie
Have you ever wanted to make your own movie? Have you dreamed up the perfect ending to that one movie that you thought was ruined? If so, you’re in luck! You probably already have all the tools you need to make a movie at home.
Get everyone in the family to collaborate on this project. Create the idea/script, a storyboard, props, a set, and designated parts. Rehearse if you want, or try your hand at improv. Set the camera to record and have fun! This is one of those projects that can be simple or complex, depending on family interest.
Reading As A Family
Reading is beneficial for all ages, so why not incorporate it into your daily routine. For half an hour each day, have every member of the family get cozy and read a book of their choice.
Alternatively, you can choose to use the allotted time to read aloud to your family. Have each member of the family take a turn at reading to the others. If you have a struggling reader, help him/her sound out the words and practice beforehand, or read along with them.
A picnic is an inexpensive way of feeding your family when you want to get out of the house, but don’t want to spend a lot of money. Work with your family to plan and prepare the feast. Make some peanut butter sandwiches or get a little more creative; you can have a good time regardless of food choice.
You don’t even need to go anywhere special – your backyard or local park would work perfectly!
Camping is a traditional summertime activity. You can go camping in your backyard to save money, and stay close to home. Grab the kids and pitch a tent under the stars while still enjoying the modern amenities that your home has to offer.
You can also camp in a state park near you. The prices are usually inexpensive and you have more outdoor fun options. You can go fishing, wander trails, and perhaps even swim in a river or stream.
Homemade Dinner/Family Night
Tacos, pizza, sundaes = you can create a DIY bar for any type of food you want to use. Then either get out the board games or have a movie night. Rotate family members for final movie choice.
You could also try your hand at watching a movie outdoors. Due to social distancing, you may have to stay in your car or park a certain distance from other moviegoers, but bring a blanket just in case!
Have a Movie Marathon
When the days get hot, there is no better place to be than inside an air conditioned house. Dust off your collection of DVDs and Blurays, and introduce your kids to a movie marathon. They could be entertained for hours! You can also have mid-day marathons, for the hottest part of the day, then resume outside activities when the sun starts to set.
Did you know: You can get movies for free from your local library (https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/life/free-library-resources/?aff_sub2=free-summer-activities)?
Play Board Games
If you have board games handy, pull them out and show your kids how to play. Sibling rivalry could rear its ugly head during gameplay, so you may have to stay alert.
Try having a mix of card and board games, and the winner determines the next game.
Learn Magic Tricks
All it takes is a little practice, and you (and your kids) can be magicians! There are many simple card and coin tricks that you can master, at the very least. Have some loose change and a deck of cards handy for anyone wanting to learn. Here is a beginner’s card trick and a simple coin trick.
Magician Daniel Jaspersen has a free, quarantine series on YouTube, and if you have a 2-6 year old, check out The Ultimate Magic Academy. Your kids can also see a virtual Zoom show of magician Harrison Kramer. Make sure your kiddo has a deck of cards for an exciting show.
Learn Great Shadow Puppets
Dim the lights or leave only one lamp on. Use a bright flashlight as a spotlight then hold your hands up to make shadow puppets. If you need some inspiration or ideas, check out this great introduction or these more complicated ideas.
Build a Fort
Let your kids have whichever room they choose for this adventure. Get out blankets, sheets, pillows, chairs, and stools then let them go!
The building of the fort is tons of fun, but exploring the world they made is even more so. Once the fort is constructed, take a tour for yourself. Then set up a movie for the kids to watch (you can even join in!).
Virtual Performances/Museum Tours
Most in-person events are either cancelled or postponed during the pandemic, but thankfully most of them have moved online. Look up the local theater group or orchestra for shows. You can also check out Lincoln Center at Home for free dance, film, and theater options.
Alternatively, you can check out a plethora of virtual museum tours. Dr. Kevin Folta is hosting a “field trip” series on Facebook. Dr. Folta will be presenting several 30-minute live streams ranging from science to agriculture for grades 3-6. Any age is welcome to join, however.
Visit a Virtual Zoo/Aquarium
There are so many virtual tours available for free, listing them all would take several pages. Some of our favorites include: The National Aquarium, which has tank cams of blue blubber jellies, Pacific coral reef, and the Blacktip Reef exhibit. In addition, they are offering at-home aquatic activities. If you’re looking for learning experiences, try The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. And don’t miss the San Diego Zoo, which has a site and YouTube channel for kids.
Summer Reading Programs
If your kids love to read, you can earn a free book by reading eight books (of their choice) and signing up for the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program. Half Price Books is also running a Summer Reading Program called Bookworm Bucks. Elementary and middle school children can track their reading minutes in a log, which earns them Bookworm Bucks. High school students must write short book reports for their Bucks.
Free Video Games
JayIsGames features browser and computer games, from RPGs to interactive novels. Just a few of the games are pay-to-play, but the majority are FREE!
Virtual “Summer Camp”
Some of the free virtual “summer camps” have already started, but a few options remain. Camp Hello Bello, a virtual camp offered by celebrity parents Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, offers free YouTube programming. Activities available include: toy theater, coloring printables, sewing lessons, and sing-a-longs.
Care.com Explore has free and low-cost access to interactive online classes and activities. Available options include: music, dance, cooking, art, and more.
Create a Bug Box
Get the kids to build a simple bug box out of household items. Once that is complete, set them out to find and collect insects for the box, starting in the backyard.
This activity could open the door to learning opportunities, as your child determines what they’re caught and what it needs to live and thrive.
Go On A Nature Walk
You can practice social distancing while getting fresh air by taking a nature walk. Taking a stroll outdoors is a wonderful way to release pent-up energy and perhaps even keep an adventure journal. Encourage your child to collect leaves, rocks, or other interesting finds along the way.
You can also try using this park locator tool from Discover the Forest to find a park or forest near you. When hiking in parks, make sure you and your children wear sturdy shoes and stick to the trails that are for your skill level.
Have a Scavenger Hunt
There are many different types of scavenger hunts you can have your kids try. Take several digital pictures of items in the house or around it then send everyone out to find the items. You can also do this with a list.
Another fun way to do a hunt is to have both adults make a creative list, combine them, then pair the parents and children off for a family hunt.
Chalk Driveway Drawings
If you have a cement driveway, give your kids their own space on it to draw something. You can suggest a topic or let them draw anything they desire. When they are done, have the children show the parents (and other family members via video call) their drawing and explain the meaning behind it.
Have a Water Balloon Fight
Those spare balloons you have in the junk drawer? Fill them up with water and send them outside with the kids. Load a couple of baskets with the balloons and let them have a war!
Not only is this a terrific way to cool off on a hot summer day, it gives the kids a great excuse to run around and burn energy.
Build a Backyard Obstacle Course
Why not use your yard space for something productive? Next time you clean our the garage, take any junk you find and help the kids to build an obstacle course.
Have the kids take turns, or run it as a family. Time each other, cheer, and have medal ceremonies. When you’re finished, take it apart and build a new one!
Fly a Kite
“Let’s go fly a kite!” Can you hear Marry Poppins singing when you read that? If you don’t already own a kite, you can make your own pretty easily.
If you don’t have a yard, head to the nearest park and use the social distancing to your advantage.
Ride a Bike
If you have small kids, this will definitely be a family venture. Use evening bike rides as a way to bond and to teach the smaller ones how to ride.
If your children are a little older, let them ride in a safe area. Remember to have everyone wear a helmet and pads for safety.
After you eat a yummy watermelon after a day of water activities, keep the seeds and have the kids plant them in the backyard. Apples work too. Nothing may come of it, but it’s good practice and helps instill a sense of pride and responsibility in the plant’s caretaker.
Play Hopscotch, Hula Hoop, and More
A timeless tradition that you may remember from childhood is playing hopscotch. Grab a piece of chalk and draw the squares on the driveway. Show the kids how it’s done the let them loose.
Using hula hoop is another way to get the kids out and having fun. If your kiddo is getting upset because the hula hoop won’t mind them, try a Skip It.
I hope that you were able to get some ideas for activities to try as a family or for your children. Remember to record all of these moments, and more, on the Legacy of Love app. It’s free!