Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
This post originally published on July 5, 2010. Enjoy!
Summer is in full swing and I’m even basking in the sun while writing this post. Most likely your kids have looked forward to the joys of this season with great anticipation.
But sometimes when so much unstructured time floats their way, one familiar phrase invades a child’s vocabulary: “Mom, I’m bored.”
You don’t need to fall back on video games or another movie when a child needs a little play direction. Use the following ten ideas to help you enjoy the summer at home and stay unplugged at the same time.
1. Organize a backyard Olympics.
Your backyard may be fabulous, but occasionally it needs a little freshening up. Try a backyard Olympics.
Create an obstacle course with chairs turned on their sides, your outdoor table, a trampoline, the hose–whatever you have to work with. Let your kids develop the games themselves and create prizes to go to the winners of each event.
2. Make a sidewalk mural.
Get out the chalk and washable paint and plan an art masterpiece.
Younger children can be kept occupied for hours while painting with water. Older children can spend indoor time beforehand sketching out mural ideas, then putting them into practice outside.
3. Plan a home camp out.
Photo by makelessnoise
I don’t think I’ve met a child yet who doesn’t love camping. Indoors or outdoors, camping at home is a breeze. There are no big plans to make, no endless list of supplies to take along.
You provide the tent (or large sheets and plenty of clothespins) and let the kids get busy. Hot dogs on the grill and smores over an outdoor fireplace will provide the perfect end to the day.
4. Get creative with bubble prints.
Kids love the magic of bubbles. Did you know you can also use bubbles in your artwork? Try this project–outside, unless you’re really brave!
In a container, stir together tempera paint, some water, and liquid dish detergent. The more paint you include, the brighter the bubble print will be. Experiment with the ingredients until you reach a bubble consistency.
Place a straw in the mixture and begin to blow until the container fills with bubbles (Make sure your little ones don’t suck in if they try this!). As the bubbles expand and overflow, place your paper over the top and allow them to pop on the paper–leaving their print behind. Experiment with different colors if you like, then lay flat to dry.
5. Create a habitat for outdoor creatures.
This is the perfect time of year to watch nature in action. We recently loved observing caterpillars transform into butterflies using Insect Lore’s Live Butterfly Garden. Releasing them was an amazing treat!
You can always use a jar with holes in the lid to create your own habitat–let your children place their critter finds inside to watch for a while.
6. Prepare for afternoon tea.
Get ready for an afternoon tea party and have everyone dress up for the occasion.
Afternoon tea isn’t afternoon tea without scones, of course, so use this recipe from Simple Bites to make a delicacy everyone in the family will enjoy.
7. Rearrange the furniture.
I spent many happy childhood hours rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Older children may enjoy sketching out a floorplan of their proposed changes, then getting your approval before they begin their work.
Or if Dad is away at work for the day, surprise him when he arrives home with a completely rearranged living room!
8. Make mud–lots of it.
Photo by mollypop
Kids love mud, and as Simple Organic editor Katie recently reminded us, playing in the dirt is good for kids.
Take off your shoes, point the hose in the dirt, and let the fun begin. After everyone is nice and muddy, turn the sprinkler on to get everyone presentable before you head back inside.
9. Create your own games.
Children love making up rules to new games, which can be done indoors or out.
If you have an inspiring artist in the family, this game kit allows you to produce your own customized board and card games. Spend time playing the games together when the creation is complete.
10. Reach out to your neighbors.
Summer is full of outdoor opportunities, like cookouts and block parties, to get to know those who live nearby.
One of my sons, who currently aspires to be an author, has spent hours creating books for our neighbors in recent weeks–detailed stories, poems, and illustrations. Not only has this kept him happily busy, it’s also created a special bond within our community when he delivers his gifts.
A little gentle direction from us as parents can help our kids maximize their unplugged play this season.
Need help to implement these ideas and make them even more exciting? Write these and other summer activities on small slips of paper. Cut up, fold, and put in a jar. Once a week (or whenever works for you) have a child choose what the day’s activity will be.
Unplugged summer fun for all is guaranteed!
How do you help redirect your kids when summer boredom strikes?