Oh, how I dreamed of you through winter’s icy chill. You and your gorgeous sunshine. You and your endless blue skies. You and your lush green grass and lazy evenings and beach vacations, all of the gifts that you bestow with the most delightful change of seasons.
Oh, yeah . . . And the bored children. The kids who complain (by day two) that they have absolutely nothing to do. I guess that’s your fault, too. Oh, sweet seduction! How you betray me!
Sure, there is plenty to do with the freedom of the summer months, but sometimes we all need some inspiration. To help you out, my kids and I have created a list of 100 ideas to keep you and your kids busy this summer. You can customize it to meet your own needs. We like to create a bright poster where we can mark off the things that we do, and, although we call it our “Summer Fun” list, we work on our list all year and never, ever finish. But that does not diminish the fun! If you want a more realistic summer bucket list, reduce this. Create your own poster, or write the ideas on popsicle sticks or paper strips and put them in a jar.
Do you have more ideas? If so, please leave a comment! Here we go . . .
1. Plan and record a parody or lip-sync video. You know, like the ones you see on YouTube!
2. Build forts inside with sheets and clothes pins and anything else you can find.
3. Use toothpicks and mini-marshmallows or Dots candy to build things on a rainy day.
4. Make lemonade from scratch. Set up a lemonade stand on the corner.
5. Watch a movie from the 1980’s. Tell the kids what life in the 80’s was like. Share pictures.
6. Put glowing neon bracelets into plastic Easter eggs. Hide them at night and enjoy a summer
7. It’s pizza night! Experiment with new crusts, sauces, and toppings. Make a dessert pizza.
8. Build a fire. Let the kids burn something from the school year that has passed. Roast hot
dogs and marshmallows. Make s’mores. Talk.
9. If you have a dog, learn how to teach it new tricks. Then teach it something!
10. Write down questions to prompt dinner conversation. Who was your favorite teacher and
why? What was the scariest moment of your life? Put them in a jar. Pull one out at dinner.
11. Enjoy ice cream for dinner on a special day. (We do this on Father’s Day each year!)
12. Create a neighborhood scavenger hunt with things to find (someone riding a bicycle, a black cat, a
garden gnome, an American flag, etc.) and then take a long walk to find them. Make it a competition if you want to.
13. Play in a creek. Catch crayfish.
14. Round up all the kids in the neighborhood and meet at school for a soccer game.
15. Too hot? Go ice skating! You will have the rink to yourselves!
16. Go bowling. Look for opportunities for kids to bowl for free.
17. Check out your town’s Visitor’s Bureau. What are you missing right where you live?
18. Plant tomatoes. Make fresh salsa together when the tomatoes are ripe.
19. Play cornhole in the backyard.
20. Attend a sporting event of some kind – little kids, college students, or professional athletes.
21. Research fireflies. What makes them glow? Grab a mason jar and catch fireflies at dusk.
22. Visit a farm. Feed the chickens. Ride a horse. Talk to the farmer.
23. Play with puppies at the pet store or at an animal shelter.
24. Water fight! Fill balloons and water guns!
25. Clean out closets and toys. Decide where to donate them and deliver them together.
26. Be adventurous eaters. Try a new restaurant. Maybe it will become a family favorite!
27. Just a little adventurous? Go to the family’s favorite restaurant, but agree that everyone
will order something they haven’t tried before. Critique your meals like food critics.
28. Host relay races in your backyard. Search for ideas online. Create an idea of your own.
29. Sleep in tents – in the backyard or at a campground.
30. Enjoy traditional summer fun! pend a relaxing day at the pool.
31. Ride a roller coaster.
32. Hold a baby. Any baby. Offer to babysit to give a friend a break.
33. Bake your favorite cookies. Deliver some of them to someone who needs a hug.
34. Find a strange fruit or vegetable at the grocery store. Buy it and try it!
35. Visit the grandparents. Write questions in advance and interview them about their lives. What did they do for fun as children? What was their wedding like? What historical events are most memorable to them? Write it all down or record the interviews.
36. Play flashlight tag.
37. Splurge. Buy from the ice cream truck at least once.
38. Record a “radio show.” Include commercials, news, weather, and music.
39. Exercise together. Train for a fun 5K, like a Color Run, and run together.
40. Everyone gets a $5 bill to go to yard sales. Who got the best deals?
41. Play a classic yard game, like croquet or badminton. (But no lawn darts! Yikes!)
42. Go to a drive-in movie.
43. Create a scavenger hunt at the park. Hide the clues and provide a surprise at the end.
44. Binge watch a series of movies, like Back to the Future or Jurassic Park.
45. Jump on a trampoline.
46. Visit a park. Create a plan to visit a different park every week all summer. Rate them.
47. Go for your longest family bike ride ever.
48. Jump in the car for a spontaneous road trip to visit a relative who lives a few hours away.
49. Join the summer reading program at te library. Sign up for library activities, too.
50. When is the last time that you put a BIG jigsaw puzzle together? Ready, set, GO!
51. Plant herbs in a pot. Cook a meal together using the herbs you have nurtured.
52. Collect big cardboard boxes and duct tape. Let the kids build whatever they can imagine
with only those supplies (and something to cut the tape).
53. Get out the paints. Everyone loves to paint once in a while. Paint on paper, canvas, or sheets.
54. Raid the garage. Use stuff that you find (pool noodles, hula hoops, etc.) to create an
obstacle course in the backyard.
55. Watch a movie that is considered a classic. Talk about it. What was the theme? Why is it a classic?
56. Family video game night!
57. Grab a towel and the sunscreen and head to the water park. Ride the biggest slide together!
58. Buy an ant farm or a butterfly garden. Keep a close eye on what happens there.
59. If your kids have been asking for a pet, summer is a great time to research. Let the kids
study the costs, challenges, and benefits and report back to the family.
60. Volunteer at the food pantry or anywhere that will allow children to help.
61. Decorate a friend’s driveway with sidewalk chalk for a birthday or a “welcome home.”
62. Project a movie in the backyard. Throw down blankets. Invite kids. Make popcorn.
63. Start a summer book club as a family, or start a summer book club with friends.
64. Meet mom and/or dad during their lunch break from work. Eat out together.
65. Visit a science museum. On the way home, talk about what amazed you the most.
66. Family board game night! Each family member chooses a game.
67. Learn five challenging vocabulary words or learn five words in a different language. Use them in family dinner conversations. When everyone has mastered those, learn five more.
68. Work together to plan a cookout. Invite friends and neighbors. Decorate. Build community.
69. Go retro. Go roller skating.
70. Cut postcards from empty boxes, like cereal boxes. Write notes to friends and mail.
71. Go to the zoo. If you go to the zoo often like we do, try something new there.
72. Raid the craft drawers. Give the kids a bunch of supplies in a box and let them think
of a project.
73. Introduce the children to old-school television, like Night Rider or MacGyver or Alf.
74. Browse at the local farmer’s market. Buy fresh ingredients and talk about nutrition.
75. Play in the rain. Enjoy every minute!
76. Attend a local theatrical production.
77. Let the kids write and illustrate a children’s book. Read it to a younger child.
78. Try a new flavor of ice cream. Better yet, make homemad ice cream!
79. Create cards for servicemen and women. Mail them.
80. Invite the cousins to spend a few days at your house. Play and laugh until it hurts.
81. Tech-free day! Lie down on a blanket and study the clouds together. Use your imagination!
82. Tie dye t-shirts. (It is not as hard as you might think.)
83. Try a new recipe once a week. Let the kids help. Pretend you are on a cooking show.
84. Ride in a boat.
85. Start with a dart gun battle. End with a pillow fight.
86. Watch a movie from the 1990’s. Tell the kids how life in the 90’s was different. Share pictures.
87. Pack a picnic lunch. Eat it in your own yard or at the park or in the woods.
88. Have the kids write a script and perform a short play for the grown-ups. To make it harder,
give them a topic, a character name, and five words that they must include in the story.
89. Make a special effort to attend an event that will include lots of extended family. Help the kids make a family tree to sort it all out.
90. Go to a movie on the first day that it opens.
91. Go for a hike in the woods. Look for something specific like toads or tadpoles or Big Foot.
92. Go to a fun local festival. Eat a funnel cake.
93. Snuggle up and look at picture albums. Tell stories about the kids when they were small.
Really nostalgic? Watch home movies, including your wedding video.
94. Listen to live music. Somewhere. For free.
95. Go fishing.
96. Google search for simple kitchen science experiments. Try some!
97. Pick berries. Eat a few while you pick and a lot when you get home. Make shortcake.
98. Learn about geocaching. Try it!
99. It’s pajama day! Don’t you dare put on “real” clothes!
100. Go to a history museum. Look for something that starts with each letter of the alphabet while you are there.
With these ideas, your family will not only survive summer break but will also have a lot of fun while spending quality time together and learning a few things along the way. Enjoy!