Summer is fast approaching! My kindergartener’s class is counting down the days till they are in 1st grade. 11 to go, I believe. That’s not much time to prep or at least think about what you want your summer to look like from a parenting perspective. What are some of your favorite summer activities?
1. Horse Back Riding
This is not something we’ve done yet. However, I use this as an example to encourage you/us parents to plan some fun activities that your family maybe hasn’t ever been involved in. It is great to know your wheel house, to know the things you love to do together and to do them again and again. I’m a fan. But sometimes it’s also good to do things that challenge you in new ways!
Water. Anything with water. Everything with water. Just add water. Celebrate your Birthday with water. Eat your cupcake in your snorkel gear for crying out loud. Cupcakes make everything better. Swimming makes all of summer that. much. better! 3. Hiking
Listen friends, you don’t have to send your progeny on a death march. Really, when it comes to hiking with kids, just find a long walk in a beautiful place and call it a hike. We love to go to Dutch Hollow. We also love Mirror Lake. It’s over an hour away, but the boys can both tromp around the entire little lake in an hour. Perfect mini-excursion. We have high hopes to hike Mt. Nebo and Mt. Timpanogos with our kids in a few summers. But for little ones, keep it simple and relatively short! 4. Biking
We do a lot of biking around here because our Daddy is a cyclist. (Mom is an avid amateur!) Biking is a great way to get kids out and active, and you can also make this a family affair. I have many, many friends who will stroller their toddler and then have their school-age child bike along as they go for a run. A great all round summer activity.
Sometimes the temperature is searing. Like if you live in Phoenix and daytime temps reach 120. WHOA nelly! Days like this are perfect for an indoor activity. Hit up a local children’s museum or play place. We have always had luck at Natural History museums because they house so many things my kiddos are interested in. The picture below is outside of the Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal, Utah. While the museum is not really very near to anything, it is worth a trip. It’s probably best to plan two days to see the Field House in Vernal as well as the Dinosaur National Monument Quarry and Visitors Center in Jensen, UT on the Colorado/Utah border.
Are you children more into art? Why not opt for an exhibit at a local art museum. Last summer my kiddos and their cousins visited The Leonardo in downtown Salt Lake. The exhibits at The Leonardo are constantly changing, but it was a fantastic and interactive experience! Check out some of the local spots in your area. It’s never too early to start instilling public niceties and polite museum manners in our kids. Summer is a great time to start. 6. Old-school games
My mother-in-law has amassed an awesome collection of some of the games that she played as a kid. (Trust me, you played them as a kid too.) Old school tidily winks, marbles, pick-up-sticks, jacks, hop scotch, jump rope. There are lots and lots of new games on the market. We just purchased some magformers for our boys and they LOVE them! But there is also fun to be had in games that have been around the block (literally) time and again.
7. Slip and Slide
Our boys were gifted a Slip and Slide two years ago and never could I have imagined the joy, laughs, and endless slips down the slide it would bring us. Slip and Slide has become on of our go-to activities every summer. Looking forward to the day we can roll that puppy out on the lawn and let the good times roll. But my anticipation can in no way match my boys’ who have been asking about the Slip and Slide since February. Enough said.
If you don’t have a Slip and Slide, or want to purchase one, don’t forget the sprinkler. Nothing new-fangled or fancy here. Just a hose and a sprinkler head and wha-la! A wonderful activity to engage children of all ages for hours! Don’t forget the sunscreen! 9. Picnic
The winter months put eating out-of-doors on the rocks. But a PICNIC is always a fun thing to do all summer long.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel here. A few months ago an article circulated on the inter webs about the fact that “when we were small” our mothers and fathers turned us outside to play unattended and relatively unregulated day in and day our. In fact, I think the article mentioned something about the primary caregiver locking the door once the kids were out to pasture. While I have an open door policy ;), it’s true that you can get way too concerned with finding STUFF for your children to do. Don’t underestimate the importance of self-play!
11. Science Friday
I couldn’t help myself. I had to throw Science Friday, Refined + Rugged style, into this mix. Here’s why. Summer is the perfect time to institute Science Friday because, for some, fewer goings and comings mean that you can start up your practice without so many other obligations and alternative activities, i.e. SCHOOL. Without school cramping your schedule, think about jumping over to Kiwi Crate to the DIY Science Experiments and giving Science Friday a whirl. I promise you, and your littles, won’t be disappointed! 12. Yard Work/Chores
Let’s not leave work off of this list either. A friend of mine recently shared this article titled “Science Has Figured Out The Best Age To Start Giving Your Kids Chores”, from the blog Fatherly. She has done a fabulous job of setting her household up to include a very straightforward and consistent approach to chores for her three girls– 5, 3, and 1. I believe. (I’ll have to double check what the 1 year-old-contributes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were small tasks she was asked to complete.) Here’s the thing. Play is awesome. Fun is wonderful. Hanging out languidly on a lawn chair can be the bomb. So do all of those things. But don’t forget that your kids can contribute, even from an early age, to the maintenance and up-keep of the place you call home. There is nothing child labor, or untoward about it. Doing chores builds character as children learn a sense of responsibility and accomplishment that isn’t gained from recreating alone. This is probably one of my biggest summer goals. To establish age appropriate, consistent chores/tasks for my kids to participate in around our home and yard. Try it out! I’d love to hear your feedback!
13. Attrition Prevention
Before leaving the workplace for full-time parent status, my sister was a third grade teacher in Washington D.C. A few weeks ago I bemoaned to her the fact that I was SO OVER school. (I have tried to keep this attitude clear of my kids, but they are pretty perceptive individuals, so who knows.) Anyway, I am that mom who would like the cessation of school to coincide with April 30th. This May business is killing me!
My sister let me know that there are REAL reasons that we keep children in school as long as we do, and that there are curriculum in place to assist kids who have basically forgotten what they learned the previous year when they return to school. In her words, “Attrition is real.” So this Summer, why not add in some daily lessons to keep your children at pace with all of the knowledge they have hopefully gained this past school year. Reading, writing, and short mathematics lessons might do just the trick! 14. Eat popsicles
Okay, okay! I put this one on the list not only because it is my boys’ favorite thing to do. It is MY favorite pastime. Popsicles. YUM! I found some AWESOME watermelon popsicles. I am pretty sure they are POPSICLE brand. I tried to link them here but didn’t find them. Head to your local grocer’s freezer section and stock up now!
I am sure we have already established our love of camping for all readers of this blog! If you are interested in a good post about Camping with Kids, click here. If you are looking for a fabulous Summer activity the whole family can enjoy. Go camping! 16. Stargazing
This one is for the geek in all of us. My husband has dubbed the boys’ and me the Planeteers. I understand that stargazing with kids may be difficult depending on age. But all you really need is a dark, clear sky, and a star chart or star guide. There’s a printable version available HERE (this guide is updated monthly). Or you can order a simple plastic version for under $10.00 from Amazon, HERE. (Make sure you note the region of the world in which you live or you might end up with a guide to the sky over Brazil!) My little guys can already pick out Orion and sometimes the Big Dipper (Ursa Major). They are always curious as to the names of particular stars, and I don’t always have the answers.
This is really just an exercise in following your curiosity and seeing where it leads. Sometimes it’s to a discussion of the nubulea in Orion’s Belt, and sometimes it’s to endless pontification on the merits of moving to Mars or Jupiter (yes, our three-year-old has a desire to move off-planet. After he can drive, he’s pointed out!). Maybe this isn’t your realm and you want to debate the merits of mushrooms, or catalog trees, or start an epic rock collection. ANY and ALL of these would be awesome Summer pursuits.
Throw a ball, organize a neighborhood run, score a goal. You don’t have to register for organized sports to do or play any (or most) of them! Or maybe you do want your child to learn a particular sport. Enroll them in a class at your local Rec or gym. Above all, get out there and PLAY!