Summer Activities

three happy girls painting
evgenyatamanenko/iStock/Thinkstock

Are you looking for fun activities to do with your children this summer and for keeping cool in the summer sun? Try these activities:

Our Summer Bucket List

Our family of eight wrote individual lists of 20 activities we wanted to do over the summer. My husband and I merged the realistic ideas into a master list of 20 activities and, together, we ranked them from most to least popular. There was a wide variety of activities, from going on a picnic to camping on a beach by the ocean. We spread out these activities over the summer so that when the last item was finally crossed off our list, we all knew it was time to get ready for school.

—Hannah Maple

Seeking Treasures

To help my kids record summer memories, I had them decorate wooden boxes. Then during the events of the summer, they searched for little treasures: a dead butterfly, a sparkly rock, a robin's blue eggshell, a pretty feather. At summer's end, my kids took out their treasures and showed them to the rest of the family. Each item was associated with a memory, which they shared.

—Adelle Norg

Ice Cube Treasures

Some August days can be long and hot. So I find small trinkets and place them in an ice-cube tray — one per cube. After filling the tray with water, I freeze it overnight.

The next day, I remove the cubes, and with supervision, our upper elementary kids take turns tapping their ice cubes with a hammer. Trying to get to the toys keeps them entertained and helps them practice their gross motor skills, even as the ice keeps them cool.

—Heather Vogler

Exploration Iceberg

Fill a 4- to 5-inch-deep plastic container one-third full of water and add a bit of blue food coloring, if desired. Place small plastic toys in the water. (You can often find plastic sea creatures or animals at a dollar store.) Freeze for a couple of hours. Repeat with a second and third layer of colored water and plastic objects, filling the container most of the way full. Freeze for 10 hours.

Remove the ice block from the plastic container and place in a plastic kiddie pool (or on the lawn if you don't have a pool). Provide your toddler with plastic tools, a bucket of warm water and cups, a hose or anything else he can use to free the toys from the "iceberg." This activity is great on a hot day — and bathing suits make the perfect attire. Be sure to apply sunscreen!

Develops: problem-solving skills, fine motor skills

—Suzanne Gosselin

Sticky Salt Painting

or a fun way to nurture your budding artist's creativity and motor skills, try adding salt to his next painting project. Your child will be thrilled with the color and texture in his creation. First, cover the entire sticky side of a piece of contact paper with salt. Then give your toddler a paintbrush and watercolors to paint on the salted paper. Watch the color spread and blend as if the art is painting itself! If you’d like to keep your child’s creation, let it dry overnight.

Develops: creativity, fine motor skills

Suzanne Gosselin

Summer Snowballs

In a large plastic bowl, mix together two boxes of cornstarch and one can of shaving cream. Add food coloring if desired. Allow your child to put his hands in the mixture, squish it between his fingers and mold it into objects.

Form the mixture into "snowballs" or build fun miniature sculptures. You can even have a snowball fight outdoors. The balls are light and fluffy, and they burst on impact, but it's still best to wear old clothing.

Develops: sensory development, creativity, investigative skills

Suzanne Gosselin

Pompom Race

Place two muffin tins on opposite ends of a room or yard. Place colorful, medium-sized pompoms in each cup of one of the muffin tins. Give your child a large cooking spoon, and have her carry the pompoms one at a time from one muffin tin to the other.

To increase the challenge, time her or give her smaller spoons. Or have several children play together and make it into a relay race.

For a less structured activity for younger children, give them the two muffin tins and a variety of, and invite them to sort the pompoms by color or size.

Develops: gross motor skills, fine motor skills

Suzanne Gosselin

Pitcher Games

Water play is always a hit with kids in the summer. For this simple outdoor activity, fill a pitcher half full with water and provide 10 to 12 plastic cups and bowls. Have your toddler practice using the pitcher to fill the cups and other containers.

For added fun, try some role-playing. Pretend that you are at the family dinner table, a restaurant or a lemonade stand. You may be surprised at how quickly your little one can master the skill of pouring.

Develops: fine motor skills, creativity

Suzanne Gosselin

Sand Treasure Hunt

Fill a plastic bin or sandbox with sand. Hide "treasure" — play coins, toy jewels, plastic gold rings or other dollar store trinkets — in the sand. (Make sure the items aren’t choking hazards, if your kids still tend to put things in their mouths.) If you like, decorate a shoebox to be a "treasure box." Have your child use a plastic shovel to dig up the treasure and put it in the treasure box.

Develops: fine motor skills, investigative skills, sensory perception

Suzanne Gosselin

Personalized Painting

Use masking tape to "write" your child’s name or initials on a large piece of foam board. Have your child use a paintbrush or his fingers to paint a variety of colors of paint over the entire piece of foam board. This is a great activity to do outdoors in a large open space. Allow your child's creation to completely dry, then peel off the tape to reveal the letters.

Develops: fine motor skills, creativity

—TK

Splash and Grab

Fill several large plastic bowls with water. If space permits, use a kiddie pool or large plastic bin. Place foam blocks, lightweight bath toys or stacking cups in the water. Give your child a pair of tongs, and teach him how to pinch objects and move them from one bowl to another. Experiment with different sizes of tongs. For older children, use a timer to see how fast they can transfer the items from one bowl to the other.

Develops: fine motor skills, problem-solving skills

Suzanne Gosselin

Mini-Fruit Mosaics

Prepare this colorful snack one day before serving. Begin by washing strawberries, grapes, kiwi or other fruits. Cut the fruits into bite-sized pieces; place in separate bowls.

Pour 3 1/2 cups of white grape juice into a saucepan, and sprinkle two packets of unflavored gelatin over liquid. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir juice and gelatin over low heat until gelatin dissolves.

Pour liquid into individual bowls or sections of a silicone muffin tin. Allow your toddler to select and add fruit to each bowl or muffin tin section. Chill in fridge overnight or until gelatin is set.

Loosen the mini-gelatin molds with warm water or a knife. Holding a plate on top of the molds, turn them upside down quickly to remove the snacks.

Develops: fine motor skills, creativity

Suzanne Gosselin

Trail Mix Buffet

Place trail-mix ingredients such as cereal, raisins, mini-graham crackers, granola, chocolate chips, mini-chocolate candies or dried cranberries in separate bowls. Give your child a paper lunch sack (you may have him decorate it ahead of time for extra fun), and have him create his own trail mix using the buffet. After he’s selected his ingredients, fold the bag over and shake to mix.

Develops: fine motor skills, creativity, decision-making skills.

Suzanne Gosselin

"Our Summer Bucket List" and "Seeking Treasures" first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Ice Cube Treasures" first appeared in the August/September 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Exploration Iceberg," "Sticky Salt Painting," "Summer Snowballs," "Pompom Race," "Pitcher Games," "Sand Treasure Hunt," "Personalized Painting," "Splash and Grab," "Mini-Fruit Mosaics" and "Trail Mix Buffet" first appeared on ThrivingFamily.com in the summer of 2013. The compiled article "Summer Activities" first appeared on FocusOnTheFamily.com (2018). If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

"Our Summer Bucket List" © 2019 by Hannah Maple. "Seeking Treasures" © 2019 by Adelle Norg. "Ice Cube Treasures" © 2018 by Heather Vogler. "Exploration Iceberg," "Sticky Salt Painting," "Summer Snowballs," "Pompom Race," "Pitcher Games," "Sand Treasure Hunt," "Personalized Painting," "Splash and Grab," "Mini-Fruit Mosaics" and "Trail Mix Buffet" © 2018 by Suzanne Gosselin. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

 

 

Next in this Series: Spring Activities