Favorite Summer Activities for Kids- at Home or Away!

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What to do With Your Family this Summer

This year has been quite different than a typical year for all of us.  Usually, our summer activities include trips to visit family, family vacations, BBQs, and plenty of fun with friends at home or at nearby lakes, parks, or beaches.  This year with social distancing and changes to our schedules we don’t have any plans like that yet.

This got me thinking.  What activities will we do this year?  Will we be able to travel at all?  So, I have come up with a list of alternative activities for this summer.  Some of these will be good for stay at home activities, and others will include getting out safely given all the current changes in the world.

The reality though, is that these are great summer activities your kids will love for many years to come!

Backyard Summer Activities with your Kids

Read on to find out what kids love to do at home over the summer!

Water Games

In the heat of summer, it is always fun to cool off with a fun water game!  My girls love playing with water!  Getting bathing suits on and running through the sprinklers is fun. 

But, even better, is the “fire hydrant.” These attach easily to a hose and creates a fountain that can rival any splash pad!  My girls will run through this for hours (if I let them, usually we don’t use that much water!!).

Girls playing in sprinkler

Water guns are great fun too! Now, this is something they do play with for hours.  Get a big bucket (we use a Home Depot orange 5-gallon bucket) and fill it most of the way with water.  Give them each a cup so they can fill their own squirt gun.  Let them at it!!!  I found myself able to relax and garden in the yard for a bit while they played in the water!  It’s OK if the little ones spend more time playing with cups and bucket of water than they do with their water guns!

water balloons for game

Set up a water balloon toss, there are many versions of this!  A fun way to do it is to prep a bunch of water balloons with water.  Give each kid a towel, like a small hand towel.  Then let them use the towel to toss the balloon to the other person’s towel!! 

If you have at least 4 kids you can do teams with larger towels.  If you have an only child, this game is easy to play and that gives us grown-ups a chance to play too!

Or else, just let them throw the water balloon back and forth!!! 

If you have a pool in your yard, have at it!! You probably already know some of the best water games!!  We don’t have a pool, however we do like a temporary pool!!  There are so many fun, inflatable pools that are big enough to swim and float around in.  If you have little kids, even a plastic paddling pool is a lot of fun.

Learning Games for the Backyard to Play with your Kids

I tend to like to play games with my kids that are educational, but the key is to disguise the teaching as a game!  I don’t recommend getting out the worksheets and sitting down to a lecture for this. 

I mean, by all means, play and run around, but also, speak to your kids using the same language as if you were talking to another adult.  Show them what you see, talk about different plants and animals, and just share information with them. 

Kids are incredibly curious and they love this!

We have these awesome binoculars for our kids.  They get their binoculars and I get mine.  Together we look at all kinds of things, even while we are just sitting in our back yard.  Use the binoculars to look at trees, rocks, birds, and other animals. 

young girl using binoculars

Have them try looking through both sides and tell you how it’s different.  Talk about what you see.  Answer all the questions your kids have!  This is a big one!  Give real, honest, and informative answers when they ask questions!!! 

It is fun to use sidewalk chalk to learn about size differences.  For example, a gray whale is 30ft. long, measure that distance on your driveway or sidewalk and mark the two ends (or make multiple marks for a “connect the dots” for smaller kids).  Let your kids draw the whale and see how huge it really is!!  You don’t have to choose a whale, anything you like works.  You can pick different sized animals to see how big they are next to each other.  The idea is that everyone is outside measuring and playing! 

girl using sidewalk chalk

I did this whale project with my girls, they loved it!  Also, they asked lots of questions about whales and learned a bunch!

Another fun activity with my kids is to go outdoors at night.  Look at the night sky and try to find constellations, the moon, and planets.  Depending where you live you may also be able to find the milky way.  We live near the city, so it can be harder to see stars and I don’t think we can ever see the Milky Way at home!  We look for it when we camp though.  By the way, if you’re like me, a constellation or night sky app on your phone is a great tool to help you look at the night sky.

Get Out the Backyard Toys

Get out the outdoor toys for summertime!!  We have gradually accumulated quite a few toys for the outside toy box!  That reminds me, it’s time to go through it and organize it!

Sidewalk chalk is an extremely popular item at our house!  You can use it on the sidewalk, the patio, the driveway, so many places.  We have rules about not drawing on the house or walls though!  But really, our girls love to make chalk art!  There are many different kits you can get.  My girls love using basic large sized chalk and some stencils.

Bicycles and tricycles are awesome Summer outdoor toys too.  My girls have just enough room to ride tricycles on our back patio/yard area, but barely.  They love to come up with fun games while racing around.  We also love to gather up our bikes and race around in other places, like the park, and at the bay.

cartoon of kids bike and tricycle activity

Aside from biking, other sports are fun too!  We like to play catch and frisbee.  This is a cool kids frisbee which is soft and easy for little hands to catch and throw.

You know which sports you enjoy, so play those with your kids too!

I love Ladder Ball and Cornhole so we got a set for our backyard, though the park works just as well.  It has been fun to let the kids play too.  They also like to watch us grown-ups play a game here and there!  Now, I love to play but I never said I was great!  So, it is kinda funny to hear my 5 year old give me tips!  Throw it higher mommy!

For younger kids playing with bubbles is super fun when the weather is nice!  There are all kinds of kits to make fun bubbles and bubble shapes. One nice thing about bubbles is that you don’t really need a ton of space. Even a small deck or patio is enough to send them flying off into the sky.

Camping and Getting Outdoors

I think it’s time to get out of the house or back yard space to take advantage of outdoor places away from home. 

Campgrounds are starting to open near us and we’re planning to go camping this summer at one of our local campgrounds.  My kids (and I) are SO EXCITED to get back out into nature!  Camping is a really great summer activity for my family for many reasons.  We love to hike, play outside, see new scenery, and see wildlife.

Girls peeking out of tent camping

The national parks are also going to become really popular!  I just saw an article predicting that National Parks are going to be a top travel destination in the coming seasons.

So, we will have to see if any longer trips are in our near future. 

If you are planning to take a toddler camping, be sure to check out my article Camping with a Toddler- A List of What to Bring.

If camping is not your thing, then consider some of the other outdoor activities I mentioned above like hikes, playing outside, pic-nicking, walk along the beach, etc.  But, you can take them up a notch and do them as a day trip with your kids!

If enjoy hiking or even if it is new to you, check out the app AllTrails (found in your app store or at alltrails.com.)  This app is awesome, it really gives a lot of info!  You can quickly find out about distance, difficulty, see a map of the trail, and so much more!  It is great to have all that detail so you can find hikes that will be perfect to take your kids along with you.

young girls feet with flowers, laying in the grass

Enjoy the Summer

Normally, we would also include more social gatherings in our Summer plans, but some of that will have to wait until next year.

It turns out, even with some limits and restrictions in our life, we are still planning to have an awesome time together as a family. I love playing with my kids!

So that’s the key, get out there play with your kids and enjoy your time!  And please, stay safe!

What are you going to get out and do this Summer?  Comment and let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

What to do With Your Family this Summer?

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