Easy Ideas to Keep Your Kids Entertained All Summer

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One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is having summers off. I love my job, but it’s really fun being home full time with Buddy. Now that summer is almost here, I’ve been thinking about all of the fun things we’re going to do together.

Last summer was my first summer home with Buddy (not counting my maternity leave). I was nervous about what I’d do to keep him entertained all day. After spending a long time looking, I eventually found plenty of ideas to keep both of us busy and having fun. I want to share my ideas to help out any other parents who need things to do this summer.

The best way to keep Buddy entertained is to get him out of the house. My favorite two resources are the park district and the library. The library has many fun classes and crafts available for free. Ours has story times by age level, and Buddy and I made some great friends in his reading group last summer. I also love being part of the summer reading program. Buddy had a great time earning prizes, and it was a great excuse to read a lot every day. This winter, Buddy won the grand prize in the reading program and he was so proud! Our library also has free reading and snack times once a month at the mall and Panera. We did a couple of those last summer, and they were so fun!

Buddy and his grand prize!

I also spend a lot of time looking through the park district summer catalog. Last summer, Buddy took a music class and gymnastics class through the park district. This year, we’re doing a music class, an art class, and a sports class. It’s really fun to have someone else plan activities for Buddy, and most of the classes are reasonably priced. Buddy loves the interaction with other kids his own age. He’s used to being around kids all day during the school year, and being at home with just me is a huge change for him. These classes helps with that transition. Our park district also hosts free kids concerts, summer movies, and group walks. Plus, the parks themselves are lots of fun too.

If you have older kids, there are great free or low cost classes for kids at Home Depot, Michaels, and JoAnn Fabrics. Unfortunately, Buddy is too little to take advantage of these for another few years. Barnes and Noble has free story times followed by a craft every Saturday. We also love playing with the Thomas train set when we visit Barnes and Noble.

Between the library and park district events, Buddy and I are busy and out of the house most mornings. But I still need something to keep Buddy busy during the afternoons. Last year I made a daily schedule for our summer. (Read more about it and get the free printable here.) Our days are Make Something Mondays, Time to Read Tuesdays, Water Wednesdays, Try Something New Thursdays, and Field Trip Fridays. Our classes are in the mornings, and in the afternoons we will do something related to themes. I might switch up our Thursdays and sometimes do a Throwback Thursday when we do something that we haven’t done in a long time. Once Buddy is a little older, I also like the idea of doing a Thoughtful Thursday where we do something nice for someone else.

One of our favorite Try Something New Thursdays – playing with cornstarch and water

Another possibility is doing themed weeks. When I worked at a day camp, we had a new theme every week. I loved coming up with crafts, stories, and games related to that week’s theme. My favorite week was holiday week, where we celebrated a different holiday every day. We made valentines, had an Easter Egg hunt, dressed up in costumes, and made graham cracker gingerbread house all in the same week. Other fun theme ideas are space, ocean, farm, circus, dinosaurs, water, and Olympics. Winder-Mom.com has a great list of themes and resources for doing themed weeks at home. I haven’t done any themed weeks with Buddy yet, but I might try it for a week or two this summer.

Some of the other things on our summer bucket list are:

  • Visit every park in town
  • Attend at least one baseball game
  • Go to a children’s museum
  • Play outside as much as possible
  • Go swimming often
  • Play in the sprinklers
  • Go to the zoo
  • Attend at least one outdoor concert
  • Have a picnic
  • Take nature walks
  • Go to a beach or lake (or both!)
  • Walk to the Dairy Queen and have ice cream as a family

Finally, it wouldn’t be summer break without taking at least one trip. Buddy and I will be taking a road trip later this week, and the whole family will be going to Baltimore in July. We also plan to take some short day/weekend road trip to see friends within a few hours of us. Hubby and I have always loved to travel, and summer is the perfect time for us to get in a few trips.

Hopefully some of my ideas will be helpful to you for kids of any age. I’d love to hear some suggestions for activities to do with Buddy this summer. Please leave a comment if you have a fun idea for us.

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