Summer break is great in so many ways. Kids get to run around and have fun and just be kids for a few months. Inevitably though, kids start complaining about being bored just a few weeks into summer. While hanging out at the pool or running around the backyard is fun, it is nice to have a list of summer fun activities that your kids will not only enjoy but that will also keep them engaged in learning. These eight summer fun activities will let your kiddos enjoy their summer break while also engaging their minds and teaching them some cool stuff.
8 Smart Summer Fun Activities for Kids
A great way to keep kids engaged in learning during the summer is to have them write in a journal every day. It is a simple way to practice good writing skills because the more practice they get writing, the better writer they will become. Start by buying fun notebooks or pretty journals with blank pages for them to write in because who doesn’t love a great notebook? There are a few different ways you can add journaling into your kids’ summer fun activities, so you can pick the method that will work best for you and your kiddos or mix it up and use a few of these ideas interchangeably.
The first way you can make journaling feel more like part of their summer fun activities than a chore is to designate “journal time” every day and have your kids write for a certain amount of time about whatever they want. This is more of a traditional journaling technique. There are no prompts or questions. Let them get cozy on the couch or in a favorite chair. Set a timer. Write!
There is no set length they have to reach. They just write for 10 or 15 minutes for example. This may work better for older kids but it could be fun to do with younger kids once a week to mix things up and give them a little freedom of expression.
Another way you can use journaling in your summer fun activities to keep your kids engaged in learning and practicing their writing is to give them a daily journal prompt. They can be anything from silly to serious. Mix it up so that there is something different for them to think about and respond to every day. Write the prompt at the top of that day’s page and have them write a certain amount.
To keep things simple, have them write the same amount every day. Make sure to give them an age-appropriate goal. For instance, your younger kids might have to write a paragraph with at least five sentences while older kids need to fill half a page or the entire page. A page would be too much for a first or second grader but a middle schooler can certainly fill a page. They can take whatever amount of time they need to reach that goal as long as they fill the space they are supposed to. They can always write more if they want to, but as long as they hit their paragraph or page requirement, they are done.
READ MORE: Journal Prompts for Kids Stuck at Home
You can also consider a back and forth journal where you have a conversation with your kids via journal as one of your summer fun activities. Start off in a similar way to the journal prompt method and either give them a journal prompt on the first day or write something to them that asks some questions. Let them respond (again with a minimum length requirement) and then respond so that you are writing back and forth to each other kind of like a conversation. This makes it fun for them and you may learn a thing or two about your kids.
No matter what journal method you choose, at the end of the summer you will have a record of that summer through your kids’ eyes.
Museum and Zoo Visits
Among the summer fun activities that you have likely done before are visits to museums, zoos, and aquariums. These are awesome activities to keep your kids engaged in learning during the summer while also being fun. They are the ultimate for sneaking in a little learning during the summer! They are also great for summer fun activities that take up an entire day rather than a few minutes or an hour so everyone is having fun and occupied for awhile.
Spend a day at the zoo or aquarium learning about the different animals. There is likely an animal or two that your kids are obsessed over, so spend some time reading books, watching an episode or two of Planet Earth, or watching videos online about them before you go. That way they can drop all their knowledge as you walk around and see the animals.
You will also be able to say things like, “Remember how we learned that cheetahs are a lot like dogs even though they are big cats? Their paws look more like a dog’s and they have claws like a dog’s that stay out all the time and not like a cat’s that they can retract or pull in all the way.” That will likely prompt them to remember and talk about other things you read about or watched.
Museums are also great summer fun activities because they can let you beat the heat of days that are too hot to be outside while learning some cool stuff. You can visit everything from science and history museums to art museums and make it fun for kids. Science museums are especially fun because they typically have lots of hands-on activities. They are also likely to have some awesome fossils that any dinosaur-loving kid is going to flip out over.
Look at your local art museum’s website ahead of time and pick out a few pieces of art or a section of the museum that you think your kids would be most interested in. Check those out first and if they are excited about it, check out some of the other areas of the museum. Art museums also often have nice outdoor spaces that mix art and the outdoors that you and your kids can enjoy after checking out some of the amazing art inside the museum.
Check out the events pages of your local museums every so often. They often have summer fun activities, programs, and special events geared towards kids. Art museums often have hands-on art projects. Science museums tend to have cool days like Bug Fest, Bird Bonanza, Exploring Space, and so on. You could fill a lot of days with summer fun activities at the museum and zoo.
Consider a subscription to one of the many activity kits that are on the market to add some at-home summer fun activities to your list of things to do this summer. You can find these sorts of kits made specifically for any age range and they come loaded with activities in all sorts of themes – STEM, cooking, art, travel, and nearly anything else you can think of. These types of kits come with all the tools, materials, and inspiration your kids need to learn about a topic and create a few fun things from science experiments to cooking and art projects.
Most subscription boxes let you purchase just one or sign up for different lengths of time, so you can buy them month to month and maybe mix up which subscription box you try that month, or sign up for a few months of the same themed kit so you can receive a couple of them during the summer. The bonus to these summer fun activities is that they are already created for you! You just open the box and follow the directions.
Just 10 minutes of math a day can improve kids’ math skills and keep them from losing skills while out of school during the summer. Chances are, your kids do not want to practice math flash cards or sit down and do a math worksheet every day over the summer. So make math fun (yes, it is possible)! As one of your summer fun activities, give your kids math problems that they have to solve in order to spell out phrases and secret messages.
First, assign each letter of the alphabet a number (it is easiest just to go from 1 to 26 in alphabetical order). Have this written out on a sheet of paper or get a nice big alphabet placemat and write numbers above or below each letter with a permanent marker. Then, think of a phrase or sentence you want them to figure out. For each letter in your message, create an age-appropriate math problem that when solved, gives the number to the corresponding letter they need to fill in the message.
Obviously, the longer the message the more math problems they will need to solve. For instance, if you want them to figure out the message, “I love you!” you’ll need eight math problems. Mix things up so they have to use different math skills from addition and subtraction to multiplication and division, if age appropriate. Once they get the hang of it, if your kids are old enough, you can even mix it up some days and have them come up with a message and corresponding math problems for you to solve!
This is a fairly easy way to sneak a little math into your kids’ summer fun activities without putting too much emphasis on the math part while doing something different than what they are probably doing for math during the school year.
Themed Summer Camps
Whether or not your kids need to go to summer camp because of child care needs, think about signing up your kids for a themed summer camp for even just a week during the summer. There are all kinds of summer camps centered around topics like STEM, theater, sports, and cooking for example that are full of summer fun activities that your kids will love. There are even summer camps that focus on building with LEGO or playing video games.
Themed summer camps offer more learning opportunities for your kids than traditional summer camp and will likely be things they are really engaged in when it is something they are interested in like theater or cooking. Imagine the summer fun activities your kids can have at a camp that is geared towards something they are really interested in!
Themed camps can be more expensive than regular summer camp, which also offer plenty of summer fun activities and are worth enrolling your kids for a week or two in the summer to get them out of the house, offer some structure to their day, and let them play with other kids their age. Whether themed or not, summer camp can offer some fun arts and crafts activities and usually a field trip or two to someplace cool like a city pool, bowling alley, or even an ice skating rink.
Plant a Garden
If you are a family that likes to spend a lot of time outside, plant a garden as one of your summer fun activities. Kids can help pick out different plants from flowers to vegetables and you can spend the summer working together to take care of the garden. Start some plants from seeds and buy some others from your local nursery or home improvement store that are already growing. Go all out and plant a great big garden or keep things small with a little planter box or a few big tubs on your back porch.
Gardening makes for lots of summer fun activities because there is so much to do – and you can do it together. Teach kids about all the things it takes to grow plants and tend a garden. You can plant a pollinator garden, attracting bees and butterflies to your yard and talk about how important bees are to the ecosystem. They can see their plants grow and learn the basics of where their food comes from if you decide to plant a few vegetables. With any luck, you will end up with a few squash or some tomatoes from your garden summer fun activities by the end of the season too!
Start a Book Club
Another fun idea to add to your list of summer fun activities that will also keep your kids engaged in learning is to start a little book club. You can do this with just the people in your house or invite a few friends and neighborhood kids to join you.
If you have kids of varying ages who are on vastly different reading levels, pick a theme for every month and have everyone read a different reading-level-appropriate book that fits with the theme. Then, at the end of the month (or whatever length of time you set) when everyone is finished reading their books, you can come together over snacks or go out to a cute café and have everyone share what their book was about and what they liked and disliked about the book.
This way everyone is reading something new and different, which helps with reading fluency, comprehension and an overall love of reading. It also gives them a chance to talk about and share what they read with other people, which can help them learn to appreciate books more.
Let your kids come up with book or theme ideas for each book club so they feel involved in the process. Just be sure to keep things light and fun without too much pressure or making it feel too much like work. You want these times to feel like summer fun activities, so avoid over structuring things. You want your kids to enjoy reading and sharing rather than dreading a list of questions or a writing assignment that comes with it.
A simple way to slip some educational things in with your summer fun activities is to create a word jar. Get a big jar and fill it with slips of paper that have different words written on them. Try to include words they may know but do not use frequently or words that you think may be completely new to them.
Every day have your kids pull out a piece of paper and read the word together. See if they can define the word. If not, look up the word together and use it in a sentence. Have them try to use it during a conversation at least once throughout the day. This can easily be adapted to be age-appropriate for any kid. If you have kids of varying ages, you can make a jar for each kid with different words appropriate for each kid in their jar. You could also mix up words of differing levels all in one jar and use different colored ink or paper to differentiate word levels.
Every day you pull a new word. Some days it will be a harder word geared more for your older kids and others it will be a simpler word aimed at the younger kids. Everyone can take a stab at trying to define the word (allowing younger kids the first try on simpler word days). There is no harm in teaching younger kids more advanced words and older kids can help the younger kids learn their new words, so everyone is still involved. Word jars are great summer fun activities because they expand your kids vocabulary in an easy way that you can also make fun.
You do not have to keep your kids busy with educational activities all day, every day during the summer. Sprinkling some educational bits into your summer fun activities keeps them learning and helps keep them from losing the skills they build up during the school year. Mix it up and add in more than one of these eight smart summer fun activities to your summer and both you and your kids will have a good time and probably learn something in the process.
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