Fun stuff to do with your kids in the summer

I made a website when I was pregnant with my second daughter. It was about things to do where Chair-on-beach we use to live – it was called norristownmom.com. It was an annotated list of all the things to do in Southeastern PA with kids it had park maps, shows, library events, everything. It was a labor of love but it also made me a walking encyclopedia of what was going on when. We moved and I sold the website – it is now www.playgroundbuzz.com and it’s really awesome. The woman who took it over put a zip code feature in so you can see what is in your neighborhood.

Now I’m not so much in the know. But I’ve learned enough to set up a workable system to keep the midsumer blues at bay. So here are my tricks:
1.The girls and I always make a Summer Bucket list – We do this so that on the fly if we have nothing to do we can pick one and start planning on how to accomplish it. There are thousands… literally thousands of bucket lists out there. Here is ours (summerbucketlist ) and here is our summer activities list on Pinterest. Here is a link to pinterest boards just on bucket lists.
2.We also print out a blank calendar of June, July, and August and put down any visits or camps or VBSs.
3.So lets talk about VBSs. Vacation Bible School. It’s like camp but the kids learn about God, and well it’s awesome and free. We always go to our church’s VBS and then there is another one that is pretty much the coolest one ever, we go to that too… and sometimes we go to one more… okay that may sound a little ridiculous but we don’t usually send them to camp and it is only half day, or at night. Definitely go to a church you know or where someone you know goes, and  try to send your kids with a friend.
4.Science in the summer – If you are lucky enough to be in the greater Philly, Pittsburg, or DC area then you can go to Science in the summer. It’s a one hour class every day for a week. The kids absolutely love it and they learn so much. Also it usually takes place in a library so it’s an opportunity to get out some books.
5.Libraries – Going to the library is easily our number 1 activity in the summer. Granted not every kid loves the library – but in the summer it is way more than just a library. We always join the summer reading program and then look at the library calendar for their weekly summer programs. Last year we saw an amazing science presentation at a library about 10 miles away, it was totally worth it!
6.Geocaching – This is so much fun and if you’ve never done it should definitely make it to your bucket list. If you have a smart phone they have a free app that makes it incredibly fun. You find the cache that you want to look for. The cache is usually a small container hidden in nature that has a log book and little treasures inside. So when you go out make sure you bring some trinkets (happy meal toys or little balls or packs of crayons) and you traded them for the ones in the cache.
7. Playgrounds – I love running and playing. My kids and I took a map of our area and started crossing off all the parks in our area. It was so much fun, and then we were keenly aware of where the cool parks were. Our personal favorites besides the two that are ridiculously huge, are the ones by libraries. We have two in our area which makes them awesome for a whole afternoon of activity. If you live in Southeastern PA check out this page. We keep a playground bag in our car – socks, sneakers, sunscreen, and nonperishable snacks. We also like to go hiking at one of the parks.
8. Nature Activities – Sometimes it is beautiful out – not too hot, just warm enough that you have to be outside. We love digging in the dirt, looking for bugs, and going through streams. Again there are lots of resources out there if you would like some ideas in this area. The key is to have your kids lead it, sometimes they could just sit for an hour or two or sometimes they are done in like 15 minutes… we go with the flow. Again if you have a smartphone there is a free app called Leaf Snap. You can use it to identify any leaves that you find – it isn’t always 100% reliable but the kids liked it.
9.Kids Bowl Free – Definitely sign your kids up for this. They get two free games a day for the whole summer. At our bowling Alley the kids get free shoes if it’s under size 1, so that means free all around… but ironically enough don’t go on a rainy day it is packed and it’s not really fun.
10. Schedule – This sounds silly but we have a summer schedule for days when we are just at home. Monday – cooking, Tuesday – science, Wednesday – sports, Thursday arts and crafts, and Friday is friends day. If we are going out or we are only out in the morning or just in the afternoon we do one of these activities the other part of the day. I print out about 10-15 of these activities and ideas for the subjects and then pick one to do.
11.Kindness & Giving Back – Summer can quickly become all about what are we doing – heck this post is all about “What are you going to do with your kids?” The girls and I really like to brain storm this. I start off with – Okay how can we help others? Kids can help out at a food bank, visiting a senior center, making a craft for neighbors, donate toys to GoodWill, do a walk for a cause, have a lemonade stand for Alex’s lemonade, have a bake sale for a local charity, clean up a local park, plant a tree, and so many more ideas.  I love the Artist Helping Children Website (except for all of the ads). Last summer the girls and I had The Family Cafe. It was so much fun and we collected a car full of good for the local homeless shelter. I’ll have to write a post on it, but the way it worked was we invited all of our friends to come over and have lunch at our house, we made a menu and cooked the food and the girls were the waitresses (It was adorable to see the kids sitting at little tables on the deck). The kids paid for their lunches with items off of the wanted list for the local foodbank. The girls and I brought the items over to the food bank, which was also a huge blessing. You will be surprised at the great ideas your kids will have about how to help others – give them some guidance but go with it… even the crazy ideas. Letting them learn to love volunteering is definitely worth sometime. This is my Pinterest Kindness board to give you some ideas.
12. Projects – Projects are awesome and can take up lots of time as you plan, get the materials, build and actually use. This past summer we made a kid car wash (here is the pdf KidWash ) and an outside water bed. They were totally worth the time and we had about every kid in the neigborhood came over to try them out. You can see us building it in this post. And here are some pictures of the girls playing on the waterbed… note to all… if you are going to only make one of these the kidcarwash can be used year after year and is awesome. The waterbed can really only be used once and it’s annoying to make, but oh it was gloriously fun while we had it. You can check out directions here.
waterbed

 

Here are some other great resources –
If you live in the Norrisotwn Area you have to check out the ACPPA – it is the most amazing community art center with the most reasonable prices.
Teachmama Smart Summer Challenge
Kindergarten Here I come – I actually have this whole calendar. It is an amazing resource for preschoolers, each month is full of fun, silly, and simple activities to do with your kids. It is a treasure trove of ideas. unfortunately it’s old so this is the only place I could find a digital copy. It also has kindergarten Here I AM  which is great to have themed books for topics. You can do one topic a week.
100 Free things to do with your Grandkids – This is a great pdf with lots of little ideas to get you through those inside the house times.

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