Summer is almost upon us. Summer, in all its glory, with its hot, sticky days, its melted ice cream cones, its mellow, lazy vibe. Too often summer can turn into too many cartoons, too many video games, and not enough constructive fun. What to do? How to banish the summer blahs? Check out these creative activities for kids!
Check out these tried and true summertime activities!
1. Nurture a Butterfly Habitat
This is one of my favorite activities for kids. We ordered an Insect Lore Live Butterfly habitat last summer. The habitat is a collapsible mesh cage that can easily be stored when not in use. The live caterpillars come in a sealed container that has everything the caterpillars need for nutrition. They crawl around in the container and eat until they are ready to form their cocoons. Once they are in their cocoons, you transfer them to the habitat—easy as pie. When they emerge you have several lovely Painted Lady butterflies. We kept ours for a few days and then released them. You can order a cup of replacement caterpillars and start the fun again!
My oldest really got a kick out of watching the caterpillars and checking the cocoons. We read a lot of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as some non-fiction children’s books on butterfly life cycles. Pinterest is chock-full of fun little printable coloring sheets and activities to turn this into a true educational activity.
2. Plant a Garden
This might be a bit bigger commitment, however, there are many levels of gardens. You could go as small as planting a single seed in a windowsill pot, make a fairy garden in a larger container or window box, or even plant an actual vegetable garden in your yard. Whether you go big or small, gardens provide endless activities for kids.
Involve your kids in every step of the process. Let them pick out what type of seeds to plant (they may need your guidance to choose seeds that will grow well in your zone, soil, sunlight, situation). If you are using a pot or container have them pick it out. Help them plant the seeds. For little kids, this is a great time to explain how soil and water are important, etc. For awhile my three-year-old was telling everyone that plants need sunshine, water, and oil (soil). If your kids are old enough to read the directions, let them take the lead.
Once your garden is planted, you can involve your kids in the necessary upkeep—weeding, watering, making sure there is enough sunlight, etc. The real fun is when your garden blooms! Take pictures of the flowers! Harvest the vegetables and find creative ways to eat them! The possibilities are endless!
3. Make a Personalized Path
This is not one I have actually tried myself yet, but it is on my bucket list for this summer! All you need is a few disposable cake pans, some Quikrete and some marbles and decorative stones. Mix, pour, and decorate! Each family member can make their own and personalize it to them! Then place the stones in the back yard to make a cute little path to the garage, the swing set, or maybe the garden! Find more detailed instructions with this post from Mavis Butterfield.
4. Watch the Stars
My three-year-old and I actually have tried this in the winter, when the stars come out a little earlier—closer to bedtime. However, I think the actual viewing would be infinitely more pleasant in the warmer months.
There are many great books for kids about astronomy and astrology! We have a book on constellations that glows in the dark. My three-year-old loved looking at the constellations in the book, learning about the legends behind them, and then trying to identify the actual constellations in the night sky. We were even lucky enough to wish on shooting stars a few times. If you own a telescope or live near a planetarium, you can add another layer of learning to this activity!
5. Put on a Garage Sale
This is one activity for kids that I would recommend saving until your kiddos are a bit older. I did it with mine last summer. It went well, except for when I tried to sell a few old toys. My kids had not so much as looked at those toys in 6 months, but as soon as I put the price tag on—melt-down.
For older kids, you could have them go through their own clothing, toys, books, etc. and decide what to sell. Wal-Mart has little fluorescent price tags to put a price on each item if you are feeling ambitious. Or, you could just have tables, boxes or sections of same-priced goods. Have your kids help sort, fold, label and prepare the sale. If you have some particularly enterprising kiddos they could bake cookies to sell or set up a lemonade stand. Make sure to advertise your garage sale. Check out sale groups on Facebook to post your sale. Have your kids make signs and post them around the neighborhood.
Garage sales are great for several reasons: they give you a chance to clean and de-clutter and they’re a great opportunity to teach kids the value of money. When you are done with all the hard work—and it is hard work—use your profits for something fun! Let the kids keep the cash from the items they sold, or take the whole family out for ice cream! For extra ideas on how to have a great sale check out my post, Five Tips for a Fantastic Garage Sale!
6. Feed the Birds
This was one of my three-year-old loved last year. We bought a simple wooden birdhouse at the local hardware store and then let her paint it. She loved picking out colors she thought the birds would like—pink, in case you were wondering. Then we bought a bird feeder, some seed, and hung them all in view of a window. We had a great time watching the birds (ok, actually mostly the squirrels) eat the seed. We even had a family of robins move into the house and lay eggs.
I hope these activities for kids gave you some great ideas for constructive summer fun! What are some of the things you have tried with your kids? Leave me a comment!