A few weeks into summer and your kids are already complaining. ‘Mom, I’m bored!’ they whine. Or, they spend the whole day watching cartoons, lazily stuffing chips into their mouths. When you tell them to turn off the TV, they mumble: ‘Oh, but there’s nothing else to do!’
Here are some fun activities to try this summer. Many are easy. Most are really, really cheap. All are TV-free, and exercise your kids’ body or imagination. So try one today, and never hear the words ‘I’m bored!’ again.
1. Make street art.
Give your kids a bunch of colored chalk and send them out to create colorful masterpieces on the sidewalk. If they’re asthmatic, use dustless chalk. Young toddlers can join in on the fun, too, but throw away any pieces that are small enough for them to put in their ears.
2. Build a car obstacle course.
Do your kids have remote control cars? Arrange toy blocks, long books and planks, and boxes of assorted sizes (try shoeboxes and medicine boxes) into an obstacle course. For added challenge, fill pans with marbles, or gravel or sand from your garden.
3. Lights, camera, action!
Older kids will love making their own music video or even movie! Turn it into a major production, with scripts, props and costumes. Schedule an ‘international premiere’ and invite friends and relatives to watch the finished product in your living room. Upload the video onto Youtube—they’ll get a kick out of seeing themselves on the world wide web.
4. Paint flower pots
The only thing prettier than a garden filled with summer flowers is a row of colorful pots your own kids made! This is a really easy craft project. Even the youngest kids can make simple circles, stripes or dots.
5. Make popsicles.
Cool down on a hot summer day with this healthy and cheap snack! Just thicken ready-to-drink juice by boiling to half the original amount and then adding a little corn syrup.
6. Play with face paint.
Who said that costumes are only for Halloween? Buy a small box of face and body paint and let kids design their own tattoos. All the mess washes off at the next bath time!
7. Blow bubbles
Buy those giant bubble guns and let the kids loose in the backyard. You can make your own bubble solution by mixing half a cup of liquid dish soap and one and a half cups of water. Add two teaspoons of sugar. Now, you’re good to blow!
8. Hold a garage sale.
This is a great way to get kids to clean up their rooms and declutter the house! Let them organize the garage sale, from getting the stuff together to posting signs around the neighborhood to entertaining the customers. The incentive? They can keep the proceeds to shop for new clothes for the upcoming school year! (This is also a great way to teach kids about the value of money.)
Though your kids are responsible for sorting through their cabinets (and even the attic and the junk in the garage), do look through the boxes. Your grandfather’s priceless stamp collection may have ended up on the auction block!
9. Wage a water war.
Give everyone a bunch of water guns and step aside—you could get drenched in the cross fire!
10. Make them wash the car.
Combine all the fun of getting wet in tip # 9 with a bucket of soap and sponges, and you have your summer cleaning brigade! Make them wash the car, or even scrub down the driveway too. This is great for really hot days.
11. Make a summer scrapbook.
Kids can make memorable scrapbook layouts from summer trips, family events, or the thousands of photos you’ve probably accumulated from this year alone. The best thing is they can tell the family story from their point of view, with their own journaling and handwriting. These summer scrapbooks will surely be one of your most cherished mementos from their childhood. (Plus, your kids will reap all the emotional and mental benefits of doing crafts.)
12. Play board games.
Charades is still fun, but there are hundreds of boardgames for every age and interest! Many of these boardgames help develop important skills. For example, the Uno Stacko Game challenges kids to pull blocks by color. The classic Monopoly teaches money management.
13. Decorate the room.
Kids can decorate their room by applying giant rub-ons on the walls and stenciling (patterns are available at craft stores or can be downloaded from the Internet). They can also stamp on their furniture, or make simple crafts.
14. Build a blanket fort.
Too hot to play outside? Drape sheets and blankets over tables and chairs and voila, your kids have their own living room fort. Serve the ‘troops’ finger snacks that they can eat inside the ‘barricades.’
15. Press and dry summer flowers.
Kids can preserve the beautiful summer flowers they picked from the garden or the trip to the park. Just make several alternating layers of newspaper, tissue and cardboard and then place a flower. Repeat this several times until you’ve laid the last flower, and then cover with very heavy books. Leave this for two to four weeks.