101 Fun Things to Do with Kids This Summer

by Ilene Jacobs, Care.com Contributor

summerSummer may be a time to relax, but tell that to kids who are bouncing off the walls or shrieking “I’m bored” every five minutes. How on earth are parents and nannies supposed to keep kids entertained, active and out of trouble for an entire summer?

The trick is to plan ahead. Brainstorm ideas for things to do now, so you don’t wind up spending the entire summer watching cartoons.

Jill Tipograph, summer expert and founder of Everything Summer, suggests that you: “Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week. Outdoor adventures don’t have to be extreme — explore a new neighborhood or walk as a family to get a healthy after-dinner snack.”

Jesse Koller, mom and publisher of the parenting blog Play, Create and Explore, likes to keep kids entertained with crafts. Sheeven holds regular art workshops for local kids. “We have a blast focusing on mostly process art and projects, as well as some sensory activities.”

Start creating your summer bucket list today. If you need inspiration, we’ve come up with 101 things that will keep kids happy — and you sane.

  1. Bake cookies for ice cream sandwiches.
  2. Volunteer at a nature center.
  3. Make a photo journal or a family yearbook.
  4. Have a luau in the backyard.
  5. Visit the beach and collect shells.
  6. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes.
  7. Visit a farmer’s market.
  8. Pick berries at a nearby orchard.
  9. Have a picnic at a state park.
  10. Make ice cream. Tipograph loves using YayLab’s ice cream ball, which you fill with ice cream base and kick around until frozen.
  11. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  12. Build a sandcastle.
  13. Write and illustrate your own book and have it published into an actual hardcover book using IlluStory.
  14. Forget cooking — set up an ice cream sundae buffet for dinner.
  15. Clean up trash at a local park.
  16. Have a backyard campfire…or just use the grill! Roast hot dogs on sticks, pop popcorn and finish off with s’mores.
  17. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter.
  18. Make homemade pizza.
  19. Print out a list of children’s books that have won Caldecott Medals. Visit the local library throughout the summer and try to read as manyas you can.
  20. Go for a walk and then make a collage from nature objects you find along the way.
  21. Take bread to a creek and feed the ducks.
  22. Have a water balloon fight.
  23. Practice your origami skills and make objects to hang from the ceiling.
  24. Go biking on a trail
  25. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  26. Plan a picnic at a local park — or in your backyard.
  27. Set up a lemonade stand.
  28. Create salad spinner art: Place circles of paper inside a cheap salad spinner, dab tempera paints on top, cover and spin away.
  29. Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  30. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  31. Make a sidewalk chalk mural.
  32. Go ice blocking (sledding) in the grass with a towel-covered block of ice.
  33. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvases or cardboard.
  34. Visit a fish hatchery.
  35. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers.
  36. Pretend to be pirates for a day — dress up in costumes, plan a treasure hunt and talk like a pirate.
  37. Make an indoor sandbox using colored rice: mix 4 cups of rice with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring and let dry overnight.
  38. Turn the backyard into a carnival — set up a face painting area and games like ring toss.
  39. Make totem poles out of paper towel rolls and decorate them.
  40. Visit a museum you’ve never been to.
  41. Make a giant hopscotch or Twister game on the lawn (with spray paint) or driveway (with chalk).
  42. String beads into jewelry.
  43. Make a bird house out of Popsicle sticks.
  44. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible — see if there are any local astronomy groups for kids.
  45. Create leis with wildflowers.
  46. Go fossil hunting near a lake.
  47. Break out your baseball gloves and start a game, sandlot style.
  48. Make paper boats and race them in a kiddie pool using straws to propel them.
  49. Play mini-golf — or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  50. Make your own colored sand and create sand art.
  51. Get a map of the United States and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit — create the ultimate road trip.
  52. Set up a net and play badminton and volleyball.
  53. Visit an amusement park or water park.
  54. Wade through a stream and search for minnows or tadpoles.
  55. Go zip-lining.
  56. Have a tricycle race at the park.
  57. Investigate an ethnic grocery store and make lunch using interesting spices and kid-friendly international recipes.
  58. Visit a fire station.
  59. Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals.
  62. Run through the sprinklers.
  63. Blend your own smoothie.
  64. Set up a bike wash and raise money for a local charity.
  65. Batter up at a batting cage.
  66. Let kids paint the sidewalk or patio with plain old water and sponge brushes. When their creation dries, they can begin again.
  67. Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones and then decorate them.
  68. Assemble a family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.
  69. Go horseback riding.
  70. Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  71. Catch fireflies in a jar (and let them go at the end of the night).
  72. Stage your own Summer Olympics with races, hurdles and relays.
  73. Create a backyard circus — kids can pretend to be animals and dress up as clowns.
  74. Decorate bikes and have a neighborhood Fourth of July parade.
  75. Take a sewing/crochet/knitting class.
  76. Make Mexican paper flowers using different colored tissue paper.
  77. Go to a flea market.
  78. Volunteer at an animal adoption organization.
  79. Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents.
  80. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  81. Pick a nearby town to visit for the day.
  82. Visit a cave.
  83. Get a map of your area, mark off all the local parks — then visit them, take pictures and vote for your favorite.
  84. Take in a fireworks exhibit.
  85. Make crafts with recyclable items like stickers using old photos, magazines and repositionable glue.
  86. Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with 1 cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and 1 tablespoon of glycerin.
  87. Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  88. Create three dimensional buildings using toothpicks and mini-marshmallows.
  89. Make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.
  90. Paint with ice by freezing ice cube trays with washable tempera paint.
  91. Create unusual s’mores by experimenting with ingredients like cookies, bananas, flavored marshmallows and white chocolate.
  92. Have a fancy tea party.
  93. Make a giant slip-n-slide with a painter’s tarp and shaving cream.
  94. Have a backyard camp-out.
  95. Let kids paint each other with washable tempera paint, then wash it off in the sprinklers.
  96. Visit a national park and help the kids earn a junior ranger badge.
  97. Go to a ballgame and teach your kids (and yourself!) how to keep a scorecard.
  98. Set up a tent in the backyard to use as a summer playhouse.
  99. Take a free kid’s workshop at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Pottery Barn.
  100. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary and bingo.
  101. Take a boring brown paper bag and have kids brainstorm creative things to do with it — you’ll be surprised at how many things you can come up with.

Ilene Jacobs is a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

Celebrate Mother’s Day Creatively

mirrorMother’s Day is almost here! It’s dad’s turn to help the kids get creative to make it a special day for mom. Crayola has some fun and easy ideas that kids of any age can participate in:

 

Greet mom in the morning with a special message on the bedroom window or the bathroom mirror Washable Window Markers. [Craft Details]

Jazz up mirrors. Make dazzling picture frames. With colorful Crayola® Washable Window Markers you can change designs whenever you wish.

1.Could you spruce up a mirror in your house with seasonal or fanciful borders? Or could you transform a plain picture with a decorative edge inside the frame? Check with an adult before you start to make Markered Mirrors.

2.Think up ways to brighten mirrors or picture frames. Some suggestions: Surround a mirror with “Happy Birthday” for a morning surprise. Create holiday decorations such as hearts for Valentine’s Day. Draw a string of colored lights for Christmas. Add an “I love you” border around your picture for a gift. Repeat or embellish designs from nearby wallpaper or clothing in a picture.

3.Use Crayola Washable Window Markers to draw a colorful border around the edge of your mirror or on the glass inside your picture frame.

4.When you are ready for a change of scene, just wipe with a damp paper towel and make a new design.

 

Personalize placemats to decorate the table for a surprise Mother’s Day breakfast/lunch/dinner using Ultra-Clean Washable Markers. [Craft Details]

Place others first and you’ll make someone smile! Show you care by creating a placemat to donate to an agency that provides meals to people who are homeless, elderly, or disabled.

1. There are lots of terrific kids who help others, care for the environment, and make their communities better places to live! What can you do to help others in your community? Here’s a great idea to inspire you: Design a placemat to donate to a service organization, such as one that provides meals for people who may be lonely or unable to leave their homes.

2. With Crayola Scissors, cut cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric into a placemat. Put on your painting shirt, and cover your work surface with clean paper. Crayola® Fabric Markers stain clothing and surfaces, CLOSE ADULT SUPERVISION IS REQUIRED.

3. Use a ruler and Crayola Fabric Markers to separate sections on the fabric. Each section can be a different size and shape.

4. Create a cheerful design with large and small shapes, colors, or patterns. Add stripes or dots to fill each section with color.

5. Designs must be heat set by an adult so the placemat can be laundered. Set the iron to cotton. Iron on the reverse side using a back and forth motion for 4 minutes. Or put the placemat in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.

 

Create a portrait for mom on the sidewalk or in a chalkboard frame using 48 ct. Washable Sidewalk Chalk that provides you with the largest variety of colors.

 

Customize mom’s favorite picture of the family by drawing a picture-frame border with Color Wonder markers that only appear on Color Wonder paper. [Craft Details]

Make memories with this easy-to-make, no-mess frame. Kids can display their own art or photos of themselves, pets, and family members.

1. Decide whether your picture frame will be a gift or for yourself. What picture will you put inside the frame? You could draw one, or ask an adult if it’s OK to frame a photograph.

2. To mark the frame’s four borders, firmly crease its inside edges in a piece of Crayola® Color Wonder™ Paper.

3. With Crayola Color Wonder Markers, draw and color a pattern to make your Bright Borders. What decorations go well with the picture you are framing?

4. Fold the creases in both directions. Carefully tear along the folds to remove the blank center of your frame.

5. Attach your art to the back of the frame with a Crayola Glue Stick. For extra support, glue cardboard on the back.

 

Candy Alternatives for Your LO’s Easter Basket

Ok, parents it is officially the week of Easter! You have probably been too busy to worry about Easter baskets, but it’s getting down to the wire. When filling baskets for your little ones, candy isn’t always the best option, so we came up with a few other options that are sure to make your youngsters Easter extra fun.

BOOKS

god-gave-us-youBooks really are perfect for every occasion! Since Easter is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, books that teach about Him are always important. You can find many wonderful books about the Christian Easter story in almost any store. Grab a simple board book for your youngest kids and one that teaches more facts and details about the resurrection for your older children.

We found another book that, while it’s not about Easter, it does celebrate God’s deep love for each of us, colorfully showing children how “God had a plan at the very beginning… He had you in mind, when He set the world spinning.” Marblespark’s new book God Gave Us You is a cleverly crafted book that is personalized specially for your child, and keeps the message of the Easter holiday, God’s unwavering love for all His children, close at heart. Each beautiful illustration features the child’s name. They’ll love finding the letters of their name hiding in the leaves of a tree, strutting on the feathers of a peacock and shining brightly in the night sky. Even the front, back and spine of this 8.5″ x 8.5″ hardcover book are personalized. Perfect for ages 0 to 6. $32.95 at marblespark.com.

BIBLE COVER

bible coverA Bible cover is a great Easter gift! What a perfect way to get kids excited about their Bible by making it feel special and unique to them. There are many options available for children online or in Christian bookstores. Look for something that has colors, embellishments or features that are fun for your kids. Something with a handle and a heavy duty fabric is great for years of toting to Sunday school! A more delicate Bible cover would be fantastic to for a baby’s first Easter. We found 2 beautiful white Bible covers: a lovely one for a little girl with eyelet fabric, lace edges and a bow on the front and another one that is hand embroidered with polka dots and a cross, appropriate for any gender. $19 & $23 at elegantbaby.com

SPRINGTIME ACTIVITIES

crayola-grab-n-goEaster really welcomes spring so fun activities to do outside are wonderful non-candy options for an Easter basket. This is such an easy way to fill a basket with inexpensive items like a jump rope, bubbles, sidewalk chalk or a kite. I just discovered a wonderful product from Crayola: Crayola Sidewalk Chalk Grab ‘n Go Games. Each game Includes 4 sticks of Washable Sidewalk Chalk, detailed instructions and the final accessory for the game you choose—everything you need to create and play challenging games on sidewalks or driveways. $6.50 at crayola.com

birdhouseWhat screams spring more than bird nests and baby birds?! Birdhouses and birdfeeders are a fun Easter gift. Look for a birdhouse that your child can paint and customize. We also found a super cool birdhouse kids will LOVE. The My Spy Birdhouse has a clear back and suction cups so you can hang it on a window in your house and see everything that goes on inside the birdhouse! It comes with a 3-way mirror so the birds have more privacy but you can still see them. We have ours hanging in a window and we anxiously check it daily for a resident (bird houses are not always inhabited right away so give it time if you get one)! $14.99 at myspybirdhouse.com.

COLORING/ART SUPPLIES

crayola egg crayonsColoring books, crayons, markers, chalk, play-doh all get old and spent. While doing your spring cleaning, throw out all the used up art supplies and replace them with new stuff in their Easter Baskets. Make it Easter-y by giving them an Easter coloring book (you can probably find a Christian one too)! Crayola has adorable egg-shaped crayons, which are made for tiny hands. They are perfect for this holiday but of course are made to use any time of year.

MOVIES

dog who saved easterI know that all parents struggle with the whole screen time thing with their kids, but children love to watch movies and it can be a great activity to do together with your little ones. Holiday-themed movies are extra fun for a holiday gift, too. And don’t worry that your kids won’t want to watch it year-round. If they like a movie they will watch it anytime, no matter the season. My daughter watches her Grinch and Rudolph quite regularly! Our Easter movie pick this year is The Dog Who Saved Easter. It is an adorable story about a yellow lab, Zeus whose family is heading out on a family cruise and sending Zeus to doggie day care. Everything is going according to plan until the daycare’s crosstown rival hires a trio of crooks to sabotage the fledgling business. Zeus will make some new friends and new enemies as he uses all his tricks to save the daycare and Easter! It is a cute movie with a recognizable cast (Beverly Mitchell, Mario Lopez, Dean Cain) that kids of many ages will enjoy. $9.96 at Wal-Mart

Go ahead and put a little candy in your kid’s Easter basket, but use these ideas to get you thinking of alternatives to fill them up with something other than sugar! Remember to teach them about Jesus and the resurrection and have a very happy Easter!