Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy All Summer

Have family fun in the sun all summer long!

Young girl painting outside
Kristen Curette/Stocksy United

Summer is here and the kids are home for the next two months! They are going to need to be entertained constantly for the next 60 days. What are you going to do?

Of course, summer is a wonderful time where kids and parents get to bond and do all sorts of fun things. But sometimes it's easy to run out of steam or have trouble coming up with some creative ideas—the local sprinkler park is tons of fun, but you can't go there for a picnic every day, can you?

 

Whether your little one is going back to preschool in the fall or taking that big step towards kindergarten, you'll want to make sure that their summer (and yours!) is filled with fun and learning. If you are looking for ways for keeping kids busy all summer, this list of 12 activities will keep everyone in your family happy and busy!

  1. Do art outside: Painting, drawing, and creating becomes so much more fun when you head outside to do it. Whether you simply bring the normally-used-inside art supplies outside, or use art supplies specifically designed for outside use, creating outside really lets the creativity of your kids soar. From hopscotch boards to racetracks on the driveway, outside art is a fun project everyone can create and then have fun with.
  2. Ball fun: Sure, playing with a ball is tons of fun and you don't need many supplies to do it (just one round sphere!) but for preschoolers, ball play helps build important gross motor skills. In the beginning, it is likely your little one will not be able to catch or throw (eye-hand coordination takes a while to kick in), but still, it is fun to practice. If you are just catching and throwing, you can use different size balls or even beanbags. Stand close together and then far apart. Who can throw the ball the farthest? Kicking a ball is fun too. Encourage your child to switch from using their left foot to their right and practice dribbling too. 
  1. Hula hoop: Hula hooping is not something a preschooler can likely do yet (in fact, many adults can't even do it!) but there is lots more you can do with these timeless toys than just attempt to keep it up over your hips. Here are just a couple of fun games you can play with Hula Hoops: Pretend to be race car drivers, using the hula hoop as a steering wheel. Set up a bunch of hula hoops in a path. How quickly can you and your preschooler get through the maze? If you have a few other people to play with, hold the hoops up and let everyone crawl through the tunnel. Toss beanbags, balls, or other soft items into the hoops. How far away can you still get the item into the hoop?
  1. Bubble blowing: While it may be difficult for a young preschooler to blow bubbles right away (blowing bubbles requires a very specific lip position that most kids master around age three or four), you can certainly have fun practicing! And who doesn't enjoy simply running through bubbles or even trying to catch them on your hands or your feet? To make bubble blowing even more fun, offer a variety of homemade wands such as fly swatters, berry baskets, and pipe cleaners. You can also make your own homemade bubble solution!
  2. Jumping rope: Most kids don't master jump roping until they are about six years old, but it is definitely a skill that comes with practice. To start, just have your preschooler jump—no rope required! Then, when he or she seems to do well simply jumping pretty consistently, introduce the rope by simply lying it flat on the ground. Then, with another adult, raise it just a bit off the ground so they understand how that works. After that, try using the jump rope the way it was intended. Patience is the key!

  1. Head to the playground together: Sure, every kid loves the playground, but they will love it a whole lot more if you take a turn on the swings and slide too. If your preschooler would like to learn to pump themselves on the swings, it's a pretty easy skill to teach. To start, demonstrate how to do it. Then walk your child through the motions, explaining what they need to do. Important safety note: Before your child gets on the swing, be sure to remind him that it can be dangerous to walk in front of or behind a swing and show him the correct way to approach them.

  2. Go for a walk: Sure, another obvious choice, but one that provides exercise and fun, plus everyone in the family can do it. Head to the local park, your own neighborhood, or even a nearby neighborhood for a change of scenery. Talk about what is the same and what is different. Are there hills? Is the ground flat? If the path is safe, take off your preschooler's shoes for a fun sensory experience. Let her feel the cool grass, the grainy sand or even the rough sidewalk (make sure nothing is too hot before tender feet touch). While you walk, you can also make it fun. Pretend to drive cars, fly a plane, or even swim like fish in the sea.

  3. Bike ride as a family: Riding a bike, whether it's a tricycle or a "big kid" bicycle with or without training wheels is a great way to help your little one develop his gross motor skills and eye-hand coordination. Plus, it's a fun family activity that gets you all moving. When it is mastered, bike riding is an easy task, but when your child is first learning, it can be a challenge. Make sure she's on a bike that is age- and size-appropriate and she's wearing the proper safety gear. Be sure to discuss bike safety and the rules of the road (even if you'll be on a sidewalk or at the park).
  4. Draw up a summer bucket list: How do you make a summer bucket list? It's easy! One night over dinner (or after, or before, when doesn't really matter), sit down as a family and figure out what it is you'd like to do. Keep a running list and hang it up on the refrigerator or any location where everyone can see it. For preschoolers who can't read yet, consider printing out pictures so they get the general idea. The great thing about a summer bucket list is that it can be filled with all sorts of activities, things you've done before and things you haven't. The key to making a good one is to make sure everyone has input and to know that no idea is too crazy, no idea can't be done. Making the list is a way for your family to express what they'd really like to try. And while maybe you can't visit Disney World this summer, you'll know that it's something that your child would really like to do and you can file that information away for future reference. 

  5. Go camping in your backyard: Looking for a low-key way to relax and have fun with your preschooler, all while experiencing the great outdoors? Try camping. But instead of packing up the car or trailer with supplies and food and anything else you might need, try heading out your front door and settling in your own backyard. For preschoolers who have never “roughed it” before, camping in the backyard is a great solution. They’ll get to see what the experience is like with the comforts of home literally steps away. It’s a great, relaxing, and low-stress way to try something new before you actually pitch a tent at a campground that is far away from home.

  6. Bring the inside out: Sometimes even tried and true activities get boring inside. So make them more exciting by bringing them outside. From reading books to simply bringing out a favorite toy, an activity that your child may be tired of becomes fun again with a change of scenery. Before your child brings something outside, make sure you are both ok if this particular item gets dirty. If you do try this summer activity, talk to your preschooler about the importance of cleaning up once it is time to come in. You don't want to leave a treasured doll or favorite car outside in the rain accidentally and have it get ruined. 
  7. Go on a family outing: If you have the time, consider a family outing as part of your fun summer activity plan. Whether you stay local or even go on a little overnight trip, spending time someplace else as a family will make memories for your preschooler that they are sure to remember for a long time. Ideas that work for the whole family include the aquarium, an amusement park, a zoo, a farm, a library, and more! Wherever you go, be sure to take lots of pictures. When the fun is done, assemble the pictures into an album, or have your preschooler put together a book chronicling your adventures! 

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