I asked. You answered! Thank you to all who took their valuable time to respond with such fun ideas!
I'll have to do this more! Here are some of the best ideas I received in answer to my request for off-the-wall summer ideas for kids. I'll be taking some of them on television on Friday and I will share that video with you down the road. I couldn't include all your creative ideas in this blog (it's already longer than the tech elfs say a blog should be. Some of the ideas made me want to go live with the fun-loving mom who shared.
It's really worth your time to read these ideas if you have young kids or grandkids.
My kids actually came up with the following activity on their own, but boy did it keep them busy during the summer.
My three children would get many neighborhood friends together to re-enact a scene from a movie such as Harry Potter. They could spend all day at it. They had to decide who was going to be playing each character and then they had to plan the scene, collect props, collect costumes, run rehearsals and then they would have someone record it.
Not only did it keep everyone occupied for hours or days, it was essentially a no cost activity and they all had to use many skills including how to work through setbacks and disagreements and they used their imaginations!
I recommend this to all parents, especially ones who have children ages 5-15.
There are a whole lot more!
I used to let my kids and grandkids paint with watercolor paints on the sliding glass door. They really liked when one painted on one side and one painted on the other at the same time. We also let each child take turns to choose a family activity on a specific night each week. They looked forward to "their" night. No complaining and everyone must agree to do whatever is chose. Now I take my grandkids to the farmer's market with me on the weekend, give them a bit of spending money and they love looking at all the produce and handmade crafts. Kids also like to be put to work organizing odd things, sorting things. My nine year old granddaughter helped me go through DVD's. Last time she organized my spices. All kids like to feel useful.
When my kids were little, they loved the little samples at the grocery store. Sometimes, at home, when it was snack time, we would set up little tables (for the three of them) and pretend they were a "sample person" from the grocery store. We used our imagination and used lots of snack things (healthy or not so healthy) and drinks and then they would take turns pretending to be customers at the store. They would get a plate and select the things they wanted. It made snack time more fun. Also, instead of just putting a movie on for them, we would make it into a whole experience. I called it playing "movie theatre." They would choose a movie they all liked and then we would make movie posters and put them up on the wall, pretend credit cards, to pay for everything, pretend tickets for the movie, and snacks for the concession stand. We would spend hours just getting everything ready! They had more fun with all the other stuff than the actual movie! They would enjoy the movie too, though. They had the munchies they would "buy" from the concession stands. There would be a ticket person to "sell" the tickets too. We had a lot of fun. I miss those days...they're all grown up now!
First I want to tell what my mom did when we (5 of us) said we were bored. She put us to work. There was always something that needed doing. She had a sense of humor and one time I remember her telling us she would strap scrub brushes on our feet and we could use the kitchen floor for a skating rink. We found something to do quickly. I never remember any of us saying we were bored more than once or twice.
Two of my brothers put up a card table in their room and kept a monopoly game going off and on for 5 days.
When we were small Mama put about half our toys in boxes on her closet shelf, then every few months she would pack the others up and get out the ones on the shelves. Almost like having new toys, especially when we were little.
My kids went on lots of scavenger hunts. Also bigger and better. Start with a penny and ask at each house for something bigger or better. One brought home a television once!
I used to go into my bathroom and open the window so when my girls would pull up on their bicycles (it's along my back sidewalk), I would take their order like a drive thru. Sometimes we would pretend and other times we would use real snacks. Also, laminate pieces of paper, punch three holes in, and put in a three ring binder. Give them a dry erase marker and they can draw until their hearts content.
I have a few ideas - I remember playing in the sprinkler as a kid. There are fun ones out there that move the water in different directions.
We used to go to an outdoor concert venue with table, table clothes, candles the whole works. When we couldn’t go, we set up the entire setup with lawn chairs in the living room and had a picnic dinner.
One time, I let the kids take all the blankets and quilts and make an entire fort in the living room. They got to go camping in there.
Setup a hammock in the backyard or a tent and let them sleep outdoors.
We have a fire pit in the back - cooked dinner on the grill and made s’mores on the fire for dessert.
Make cookies that you can also freeze or freeze the dough and just bake enough for that night.
Use food coloring in pancake batter - more interesting breakfast... we have done that with scrambled eggs too - with fruit you can get a full rainbow breakfast! Green eggs anyone?
We have done a picnic breakfast with a morning of games at a local botanic garden
We were going into the city for an event - added a morning at my daughters museum of choice to make a full day of it.
Find out free museum and zoo days - picnic for lunch and be home to cook dinner.
Free concerts/plays in the park
Consider summer stock theatre options.
Big project - let teen going into high school to totally redecorate room- paint and all.
Camp crafts - candles in milk cartons, tie dye t-shirts, wreaths, bird feeders (pinecones, peanut butter and bird seed), friendship bracelets, macramé gods eyes, paint bird houses, wind chimes out of tin cans, shells in plaster of Paris, rain sticks.
My family project today is cleaning up from a flood - I don’t recommend that one :).
One idea my kids really enjoyed was playing restaurant. They would design a menu with main dishes, drinks and desserts, along with prices. Someone would play waitress and write down the order. Then another would “cook.” We had sandwiches, toasted waffles, hard boiled eggs, yogurt- whatever was easy. The waitress would come check on the meal. Sometimes we’d really add up the cost- sometimes use play money. It didn’t really matter. It was the play-acting that made it fun.
My two children are ages 16 and 18. My 18 year old never had much of an issue with summer boredom. He was born a natural worker. His motto at age 4 was “hard work makes you smart.” When he did get bored, all I had to do was find something he could do with his hands that didn’t require him to sit still.
My 16 year old daughter is the social butterfly of the family. She has always had the boredom bug in summer. I have found that she likes routine. So to keep boredom at bay, we have always tried to make and keep a schedule that includes daily things that need to be done, and then other fun things according to what her interests have been at the time (cooking, crafting, makeovers).
When they were younger we would attend multiple VBS (Vacation Bible School). We also garden, and can the produce from the garden. Including them in the process was always a great game to them. It is an easy hobby to start and include the whole family. I have lots of fond memories of canning pickles and green beans especially with my kids.
My mom babysat at home while I was growing up, and there was always someone to play with or an adventure to be had. I think a lot of boredom in kids these days comes from being glued to screens all the time and parents being so busy that they forget to slow down and breathe.
I hope this helps some of the weary moms and dads out there.
Oops! Not a summer pic. Oh well, it should cool you off a little.
This is from Glorie:
There are so many possibilities! Dollar Store pools for cooling off, giving toys a bath, creating naval battles, islands (made up of toys to conquer); there’s painting with washable paints where the paper is taped to the floor and then the artwork is hung on the windows to dry using the same tape. Use a 9x13 pan to make a clay volcano around a bottle that you can fill with baking soda, red food coloring, and then add vinegar to watch the “explosion.” Plastic dinosaurs make the experience all the more fun! Cities, (drawn in chalk on the sidewalk or driveway) where toy cars and trucks get to go. If you have really small kids on the scoot bikes, this is tons of fun, but they require larger space. Turn an entire room into a tent city with sheets and chairs and then read books with flashlights-like camping!
In the words of Elsa from Frozen, “Let It Go!”
This is my tip for young moms, especially moms with more than one kid. While it is great to make magical summer memories with your kids, (trips to the lake, picnics, bike rides) there is a second part to this. When a kid is bored, it is NOT YOUR PROBLEM.
Kids need to be able to amuse themselves, just like a baby needs to learn to sooth itself back to sleep. Sometimes they need to fuss a little.
Think about “The Happiness File.” Your mom and dad did some really cool stuff with you, but the other half of your happy childhood is the stuff you and Peggy got in to on your own. It developed your creativity and if your mom had always been jumping in to “help” you might not be the person you are today.
Same with me. Great parents, but also read a lot of library books and played dump trucks and cowboys in the back yard with my little brother.
I took the same approach my mom did. “Bored” one time, make a suggestion. If kid does not follow suggestion and comes back “bored” it is time to find something for them to do that usually involves scrubbing or vacuuming. That cuts down on repeat customers. 😉
P.S. It’s also a way to get stuff done since when I was a younger kid, I loved cleaning the bathroom?! (It was all sparkly when I got done and I could brag that I “cleaned a “WHOLE ROOM”.)
The woman who wrote the above wisdom, didn't leave her name so I can't give her credit here, but she's right about my mom giving us most of our summers to think up our own fun. The Happiness File book is filled with my sister's and my antics on a farm in southwest Washington.