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20+ Summer Ideas for the Kids

Who remembers the euphoric feeling of walking out of school knowing a whole summer stretched in front of you? Nothing quite like it, right?

Well, now that I'm a parent, I look ahead at summer as an opportunity for either a lot of sibling squabbles because of the extra down time or for some guided activities that help my kids grow & learn & bond.

As I'm sitting down to think through what I want our summer to look like, I thought I'd share some of the things I come across in my research.

I understand that I'm talking to friends who are working outside the home, and for you, a lot of these suggestions will just have you shaking your head saying, "Yeah, OK, Elaine! My kids have an awesome summer camp program where they play all day. They won't be up for more of that in the evening! And I might be too tired, too!"

But just think about those wonderful homework-free evenings with your kids! What if -- maybe just one night of the week -- you pick an idea from the list below & spend some time with them. I can almost guarantee that you won't regret the time it took to prepare.

So, I hope we can see this list as it is. A list of ideas to fill the summer down time - from one tired mom to another! Let's beat that dreaded "summer slide" along with all of those "I'm so bored" complaints!

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Discipling Ideas

Summer can be such a sweet time of meaningful, teachable moments. Is there a topic that you'd like study, why not invite your child into that study? There are some wonderful studies available from places like The Daily Grace Co. Or you can plan to read a book of the Bible together as a family - the Gospels might be really great places to start for this. Here are some other ideas:

  • scripture memory - pick a Psalm to memorize together or find a collection of scripture on that topic you're studying together; for inspiration, you can read Hunter Beless's new book (affiliate link)

752501: Read It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving the BibleRead It, See It, Say It, Sing It: Knowing and Loving the Bible
By Hunter Beless / B&H Kids

A whimsical picture book that follows multiple diverse families as they grow their knowledge and love for the Bible in four simple ways:

  • Reading, or hearing God's Word read aloud
  • Seeing, or memorizing Scripture
  • Saying, or talking about the Bible together
  • Singing, or worshipping God and proclaiming the Gospel
Readers will learn that as we study, memorize and repeat Scripture, Jesus is glorified and our lives are changed forever.

devotional books for kids

devotional books for kids

  • Brave Heroes and Brave Defenders & Courageous World Changers by Shirley Redmond
  • Indescribable & How Great is our God by Louis Giglio
  • Tiny Truths Wonder & Wisdom by Rivard & Penner
  • Foundations by Ruth & Troy Simons
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • The Gospel Storybook Bible by Marty Machowski
  • service projects - are there some people who could use encouragement in your neighborhood or church? Have the kids use their art (see below) or time or new life skill to bless someone. Maybe there is a cause (refugee aid, pregnancy center, foster care, etc.) that is near & dear to your family that you can find a way to help!
  • growing up conversations - Biblical views on bodies, puberty, sex, relationships... Have you had a chance to break into these topics with your kids yet? This summer could just be the time to wade into these conversations. Because your kids deserve to learn about these things from you! If you need recommendations for books to help you guide the conversations, reach out to your pastor or elder or deacon. Or I might have a few that I can recommend, too!

Arts & Crafts Ideas

Do you have a creative little one in your home? Or do you see the need for your analytically-minded child to flex his or her artistic side?

The truth is that we are all creative in some way, but arts & crafts might not be it. It's still a great way to explore & learn & even be a little silly with your kids.

  • Check out some library books on artsy topics or buy a few to keep around:
  • picture books about famous artists - the children's librarian should be able to point you in the right direction on these.
  • books filled with craft ideas - here's one that I checked out recently that has some really fun ideas that I hope to incorporate into our summer plans

  • Stock up on supplies: (affiliate link)
  • Keep it simple with coloring books & fun coloring supplies
  • Venture into paints & pastels
  • Go a little crazy & buy the glitter (I don't even have glitter in my house - my poor daughter - sigh!)
  • I wrote a blog post a little while ago about building a creative environment in your home. I hope you'll click over & grab some of those ideas, too.

Nature Study Ideas

I know, I know. This isn't my cup of tea either. But I keep trying to force myself out of my comfort zone because I know it's good for me & my kids. So, I'll slather on the sunscreen & drench myself in insect repellant & bravely attempt to be "adventurous."

And, if I can learn to do it, you can learn to do it! (Any Anastasia movie fans out there?!)


STEM Ideas

I'm not going to say you have to make slime or make things explode. Let's see if we can figure out some better ideas together...

  • LEGO animation - 2 of my kids got to participate in a LEGO stop motion class at our co-op this semester & they seemed to really like it! There's a free app that you can download to help your kid create some fun little movies.
  • LEGO building challenges - while we're on the subject of those lovely little plastic building blocks, a quick Pinterest search will lead you to all sorts of building ideas to use with your own kids!
  • Coding - being married to a programmer, I can tell you how large the need is for people who can code! We use the free courses offered on code.org & the kids really enjoy it (for the most part).
  • Hurricane tracking - I grew up in coastal SC, so we couldn't help but be aware of what was happening during the Atlantic hurricane season. I remember one of our homeschool science projects was to track the various storms. If you have a weather worrier (one of my kids is NOT a fan of storms), this might or might not be a great idea. But if you live near a hurricane zone, it could also help your kids understand & be more prepared for what these storms mean.
  • Science experiments - someone gifted this kitchen science experiment book to us on a birthday & we've done a few of the ideas in it, including using various nuts as fire fuel & making butter!

  • Good old-fashioned games - so many board games & card games require strategy & logical thinking. They can reinforce skills that your child has been working on in school or they could challenge them for the year ahead.

English & Language Arts Ideas

I promise not to nerd out on you on this topic... OK I can't make such promises because I really am a nerd about English & reading. BUT, I will refrain myself to give only a few ideas...

  • reading challenge - many schools send their students home with summer reading lists because they know that it's the perfect time to get to all of those books that get left out because of the rigors of the curriculum. What if you joined your kids in the challenge? What if you had each person set a summer reading goal & then reward yourselves along the way? Make a poster & start competing!
  • poetry -
  • Hear me out - read poetry with your kids. It doesn't have to be T.S. Eliot or Shakespeare, although it could be. As I've probably mentioned too many times, we follow the AmblesideOnline curriculum & they have a schedule of poets that my kids have been following (more so this year than in previous years).
  • Research more modern poets & find a poem or 2 you can share.
  • There are always books to check out at your local library. We've been giggling through some Shel Silverstein recently...
  • Google "poetry for kids" to get you started!
  • brew some Sleepytime tea & make it a cozy way to end the day.
  • read alouds - I've said it before & I'll say it again - read to your kids! Even if they're teenagers or tweens - find a book you can all enjoy & read it together. Maybe it's a classic you've all thought about reading for a while. Maybe it's a novel you enjoyed as a kid & want to share with them. Maybe it's a biography or a book about Christian living...
  • you know I have a blog post about reading

Life Skills Ideas

Another great way to bond with & challenge your child is with a little life skill training. It only takes a quick look on the "interwebs" to see young people begging parents to teach their kids the basics! And it can be fun (& very sanctifying) to learn about these things together.

  • cooking - speaking of sanctifying, cooking with kids can be very trying to my patience. But my daughter took a cooking class at co-op & received this cookbook that she is constantly reminding me about. So, we will try to make that happen this summer. My little boys also enjoy "helping" in the kitchen. You know how that goes. But I also want to put myself out of a job, so I have to teach them how to be independent! And every little minute with them at my elbow is invaluable in so many ways.

  • organizing - any other aspiring minimalists out there? I've read many books on the topic & done quite a few purges over the years. But Allie Casazza has written a book just for kids. I am very interested in walking through this book with my kids & teaching them the habits of editing, decluttering, & creating an environment around them that they love!

  • chores - some families are very good about this. We've been better about it in the past, and I am planning to make a renewed push this summer. Sweeping, mopping, laundry, cleaning toilets - again with the idea of teaching them to live on their own. Each child is a valuable member of their family & they are able to contribute to caring for their home.
  • simple home repairs & tasks - do your kids know where the batteries for the Roku remote is? Do they know how to safely change a light bulb? Are there other things that you wish you'd known before you were on your own? This summer could be the time to teach them some age-appropriate tasks, so look for those teachable moments.
  • hygiene - do your kids need better self-care habits? Are they independently taking care of their nails, teeth, hair (if they are at an age where that would be appropriate)? Take some extra time to help them cultivate those habits!

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Summer is supposed to be a chance for kids to unwind from school, and they absolutely deserve to have that rest! I also know vacations & camps & VBS & family visits & beach days take up a lot of some summers.

But in those moments of boredom or frustration. Or on the rainy days. Or those precious moments between dinner & bedtime, take a peek at this list & I hope you find something that will help your family!

I've totally used this blog post as a "brain dump" of sorts. It's just a collection of all the ideas I'd love to pull from for this summer & for ones in the future.

What plans do you have for the youths in your care? Share in the comments below!

As always, I'm cheering you on!

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Could you do me a favor? If you found this post helpful, could you pin it on Pinterest? You can use the buttons along the side of this post or here's the pin!

And check out my Pinterest board where I'm gathering more ideas that wouldn't fit in this post!

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