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Summer Activities at Home



Summer is a wonderful time of year when kids typically don’t need to follow a strict schedule, leaving room for outdoor fun and relaxed playtime. Of course, the newness of this freedom during the summer can wear off pretty quickly, leaving kids with a sense of boredom and a tendency to depend on screens and digital content to pass the time.

Some parents may rely on summer camps, day programs, or other scheduled extracurriculars to keep their kids from getting bored or restless while on vacation from school. Though these strategies definitely offer some benefits, heavily structuring your child’s summer days can result in unexpected stress and overstimulation—the very opposite of what summertime is intended to be.

Clearly, it’s best for kids and their families to find a balance between feeling as if summer days are stretching out with nothing do to and being burdened with an overcrowded summer agenda. To help achieve that balance, here is a list of five categories of summer activities that your kids can do at home to keep away boredom, prevent excessive screentime, and maintain a healthy schedule.

Art Exploration

Unfortunately, many schools are reducing and even eliminating the number of programs dedicated to the arts. This means that children are less exposed to creative subjects like music, theater, crafts, and fine art. Summertime, therefore, is an excellent opportunity for your kids to explore various types of art and develop an interest in artistic expression.

Here are some ways for kids to enjoy art activities at home in the summer:

  • Create a mural outside with sidewalk chalk.
  • Choose a different style of music to appreciate each day and spend 30 minutes “dancing” to connect rhythm and movement.
  • Try out dramatic skills by developing situational skits, playing charades, or even writing and performing a play.
  • Use different media and art supplies at home to create artwork such as collage, painting, crafts, etc.

Neighborhood Navigation

Parents and kids often forget how interesting their own neighborhood can be to explore. Here are some educational and fun summertime activities for kids while staying close to home:

  • Use your neighborhood to teach your children map reading skills. This can include learning cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) in relation to the sun, knowing important street signs and intersections, and being aware of “landmarks” near your home (such as a large tree, colorful mailbox, unusual fence, etc.). Drawing and coloring a neighborhood map adds to the fun.
  • Notice the signs of nature in your neighborhood, such as flowers, trees, plants, insects, and animals. Kids can keep a journal with writing and/or pictures of their daily observations, including how they experience the senses of sight, sound, touch, and smell.

Culinary Fun

It can be difficult to find time to cook at home and share meals as a family during the busy school year. Summertime not only allows for more togetherness, but it can also present opportunities for your kids to learn life skills such as meal preparation, cooking, and healthy nutrition. Here are some ideas to add culinary fun to your summer activities at home:

  • Search cookbooks and/or magazines at home for pictures of interesting food, bookmark the recipes, and then give them a try.
  • Allow each child to plan a meal and be part of the entire process, including food shopping, preparation, cooking, and even clean-up.
  • Choose a different color each week with your child and see how many summer fruits, vegetables, grains, etc., of that color you can incorporate into your meals.
  • Create your own show as you and your kids “perform” for a pretend audience while cooking. You can even record your “program” on a cell phone to watch later.

Family Forest

Free time at home during the summer is a great opportunity for kids (and parents) to learn more about their extended family and even connect with distant relatives. This can be an especially rewarding activity after the imposed isolation of the pandemic. Here are some ideas for expanding the “family forest”:

  • Create informal family trees as far as possible so kids have a visual representation of their maternal and paternal relations.
  • Retrieve, organize, and label family photographs as a fun project.
  • Invite local family members over for a relaxing summer visit.
  • Write a note and send a drawing or picture to a relative who lives out of town to reconnect and potentially gain a pen-pal.

House Hunters

Another benefit of at-home activities during the summer is having the chance to focus on fun house projects that may otherwise be put off with busy schedules. This is a chance for the whole family to be mindful of the home environment and potentially help others in need. Here are some activities for even the youngest of “house hunters”:

  • Do a closet cleanse and donate items that are in good condition but no longer fit.
  • Have an organization party for inside and outside toys, donating those that are no longer used.
  • Create a command center with items such as a family calendar, important phone numbers, necessary forms and paperwork, school schedules, etc. Allow each child to personalize/decorate their individual folder, file box, or cubby.

Though there is some pressure for parents to enroll their kids in programs during the summer, whether for entertainment, athletics, academic enrichment, or even social interaction, it’s also important to keep in mind that kids can find healthy stimulation, creative opportunities, and learning experiences right in their own home. Having the freedom of unstructured yet focused play, and time to think and imagine without relying on screen and digital distractions, creates a positive balance for children and allows them to discover who they are.

At Cognisprings, we understand parents who are searching for experiences that develop life skills for their children and the opportunity to create a healthy sense of self. This includes supporting parents who are looking for educational toys and materials that inspire children to discover who they are through exploring stories, building imagination, and applying critical thinking. We provide books, puzzles, games, and toys that are thoughtfully designed for creativity, curiosity, and fun for the entire family. In addition, Cognisprings prioritizes educational activities that are screen-free, promote healthy cognitive development, and encourage personal growth through independent play and lifelong learning.