There’s a whole, awesome summer ahead of us that I’m excited to fill with fun stuff for me and the kids, but I accept that sometimes I’m just really all out of ideas on how to fill days or hours for them.
My kids are only six and three, and still need a lot of guidance on how to entertain themselves, so I started writing a note about fun things we could do this summer with the idea of being mindful of our budget. We started writing things down together (the kids and I), and here’s our list so far. If you have things to add, let me know!
1. Visit a splashpad: Check your local town/city website to find out where there are free ones near you!
2. Visit a beach: Even if it takes a couple hours to drive to one, this is a worthy day trip because who doesn’t love playing in the sand?
3. Go for a hike: Find a trail and hike that trail. So much adventure can be found on hikes!
4. Find a new playground: Explore your town and find a playground you’ve never been to before. Even with all the same equipment, a new park is exciting.
5. Go swimming: Local pools have inexpensive public swim times that are always worth checking out.
6. Write a diary every day: This is a fun way to recap what kids do every day, so they can appreciate all the wonderful stuff they experience. It’s so easy to forget.
7. Take a photo every day of something fun you did: And at the end of the summer, make a beautiful photo book of memories.
8. Do a nature craft: Take a look at what’s around you (sticks? rocks? pinecones?) and Google crafts to make out of them. You’d be surprised at how cool some of the ideas will be.
9. Visit a zoo (bonus if it’s free): There are a few free and inexpensive zoos in the GTA, so check out what’s around you!
10. Visit the library: On a hot day, a cool visit to the peaceful library is a welcome activity that everyone can enjoy. For free!
11. Write and mail real letters to family/friends: Everyone loves a surprise in the mail.
12. Bake something yummy.
13. Cook a meal together: Getting kids involved in the meal-making process is great for everyone. As little as two-years-old, they can offer input into meals and help out with preparation.
14. Pick up garbage in a public park.
15. Take a road trip: Hop in the car and drive to a new town and see what you find.
16. Have a picnic: Even just taking lunch outside on the front step is a fun activity that shakes up the boredom.
17. Be dramatic: Put on a play with friends or siblings, write a summer song.
18. Finger paint: Even adults can get into finger painting when they let down the Mess Alarms. Dig out the paints and make a big mural together. Embrace the mess!
19. Run through the sprinkler.
20. Walk around your neighborhood: How many of us just wander our ‘hoods these days? I’m willing to bet not many.
21. Ride bikes.
22. Make a piñata: Then fill it with candy and break it, just for fun.
23. Visit a museum: What’s in your area? Do you know the history of your town/city?
24. Find a free local activity: Many towns and cities offer free summer entertainment and programs, you just have to look for them. Take advantage!
25. Go to the farmer’s market: Support local (or local-ish). Get out there and enjoy the local tastes of the season, there’s nothing as delicious as the produce picked this morning!
26. Clean out the closets: No time like the present to get rid of last year’s outgrown wardrobe.
27. Purge the toys: Ditto for the toys, get rid of whatever is broken or unused!
28. Try a new hobby: There’s no time like summer vacation to pick up a new hobby. School’s out, so why not learn to make beads with clay? Or learn about local trees?
29. Check out a farm.
30. Watch a movie outside.
31. Make gifts for friends/family: Make a necklace for nana out of beads, or a paper weight for papa out of rocks.
32. Play outdoor twister with chalk: Or hopscotch.
33. Set up a lemonade stand: Unless you live in this woman’s ‘hood.
34. Take a drive through the country: Have your kids ever seen cows? Cornfields? Wild turkeys and coyotes and deer? Mine have, because we frequently drive through The Country to search for such things. It’s pretty awesome, really.
35. Take a walk in the city: Being suburbanites, this is a thrill for my kids.
36. Go somewhere new for ice cream.
37. Draw pictures of your day, every day: At the end of the summer, have them bound in a nice book.
38. Have a scavenger hunt: It’s not hard to set up a hunt for the kids outside that’ll keep them occupied for awhile!
39. Pick your own…whatever: See what’s coming up for picking and get out there. Kids will love picking raspberries, etc. then eating them all on the drive home.
40. Stay in your jammies all day.
41. Get together with friends.
42. Eat dessert first: Because why not? Sometimes it’s fun to live on the edge.
43. Turn those old pants into shorts: Remember when I suggested purging those old clothes? Take all those flood pants and cut them off… now you’ve got more shorts.
44. Get crafty: Search Pinterest for summer crafts. There are a gazillion of easy, fun ideas on there.
45. Make a summer playlist: And play it wherever you go as a family!
46. Have a yard sale.
47. Paint a t-shirt: This is so fun for kids as little as toddlers. Get some cheap t-shirts and a few fabric paints and go to town.
48. Grow some food: Nothing’s more rewarding than eating something you’ve grown! My kids love growing herbs (and I do, too, since they’re so easy!) and eating them.
49. Dig in the dirt.
50. Paint some rocks.
51. Play a board game.
52. Fly a kite.
53. Kick a ball.
54. Check out a cool part of town.
55. Be bored: It’s ok to not have something to do every moment of every day. Kids are programmed to say, “I’m borrrrrrrrrrrred,” and they’re also programmed with amazing imaginations when left to use them. Let them be bored and see what they do.
56. Donate to a food bank/shelter: Take the time to teach kids about supporting their local community.
57. Sleep in a tent: Even if you can’t get camping, pop a tent in the backyard (or even just hanging some blankets or making a fort) and camp out there.
58. Read outside: It’s a special kind of wonderful to read outside in the summer warmth.
59. Call in the reinforcements: When all else fails, reach out to family or friends to babysit (and maybe spoil) the kids for awhile.
60. Spend a night at a hotel: We often check Hotwire for cheap hotels to stay at for nights away, just for fun.
61. Check for events in towns nearby: Don’t forget your neighboring communities; they may have awesome things for you to check out, too.
62. Invite friends over for a just because party: Have cake, balloons, games… for no reason other than Just Because.
63. Be in nature: Just getting out there to see things is exciting!
64. Play in the rain.
Do you have more ideas to add to the list? Lemme hear them because we’ve got about eight weeks left to fill here!
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