Summer Activities For The Family

By Adriana Lopez
Reprinted from Porch.com June 17, 2022


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Summer is a fantastic time to explore your neighborhood, meet new people and build stronger bonds with your family and community. Some kids go off to a day camp organized by a local organization or away centers, but when it’s time to be at home with the family, it’s time for an activities plan. Parents don’t always have time to monitor every minute of their kids’ day. Studies have shown that leaving kids in front of a television for hours at a time harms their well-being and that outdoor activities can decrease obesity rates, increase vitamin D, lower stress levels and develop stronger immune systems. This guide will give you the tips and tools to help create a healthy and entertaining summer activities plan for your kids.

Indoor Activities

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Understandably, not every day during the summer can be an outdoor day. Heatwaves and summer rains can force kids to stay indoors, but that doesn’t mean they should spend the day gaming or watching movies. Outdoor summer activities for kids with special needs and children in highrise communities aren’t as simple as walking into your backyard or the park. Indoor activities with other children can teach kids how to relate to others and develop empathy and interpersonal skills. Indoor activities can be educational and fun and bring new experiences into your child’s life that they would not have if we plunked them in front of a television all day.

Crafts like painting and pottery are excellent for kids to work on hand-eye coordination and express their creativity. They can be done alone or with a sibling or friend. Add an element of giving by having them make birthday cards for grandparents or aunts and uncles. Don’t forget to include time for clean-up. 

You can set up a small gym or obstacle courses to give them physical activity at home. Keep safety at the top of your mind when setting it up, and ensure everyone knows the safety rules.

Not all computer-based games are detrimental to children. Games like Minecraft can teach youngsters basic geometry skills, and there are several apps for tablets that can teach children of all ages the basics of coding. If you do allow gaming, set a time limit and have a plan for after that will get them moving.

Creative play is vital to kids, but some need a little more. Their brains are like sponges and are ready to absorb information, try and have them do STEM activities, that will make a more accessible and fun ride for you and your kids! A clear way to have a great time and still be connected to the topics, without the classic school environment but still a gym to theirs and your brain! Be sure to read this article on the best STEM toys for kids!

  • Edible Sugar Crystal Science Experiments!: Kids love the galaxy and everything that has to do with it. Science in a delicious edible way? What is not to love about that! Make with them these sugar edible crystals based on galaxy figures! They will love it and will learn easier.
  • Solar System Slime!: OMG! Don’t we love slime and the great things to do with it? Well, add a new one. Make different slime colors and use them on balls to create planets, to learn and recreate Science in the best expression.
  • Stop Motion Videos with Jelly Beans!: Have you ever seen these kinds of videos? There is so much work and precision behind them, it will be a high level of concentration and fun at the same time. Just imagine using Jelly Beans to create technology! Not to mention that you can eat them at the end.
  • Binary Coding Bracelets with Secret Messages!: Not only will you be teaching or maybe learning about binaries, but also creating a new connection between your kids and yourself with secret messages to let them know you are there for them, they will create a secret code and bond in a strong way.
  • DIY Melty Beads Pokemon!: Pokemons and beads, are two favorites that you can combine to make it more fun. The way your kids can develop crafting and hand coordinating is amazing! Creativity and coloring are other targets achieved.
Don’t forget about the simple things like helping around the house. Create a daily and weekly chore chart to teach them important life skills. This can include making their bed, picking up their towels, putting their laundry in the bin, folding and putting away clean laundry, and making sure all the dishes have made it to the kitchen. Older children can help with meal prep, washing the dishes, and doing the laundry. It may not be as fun, but these are still essential skills for children to learn as they help them build confidence in life.

Outdoor Activities

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Though we can find positives to indoor play, the best part about summer is still being able to get outdoors. Sports like basketball and soccer only require a ball and a target. A basketball court or soccer pitch will improve their overall skills but practicing hand-eye, or foot-eye coordination can happen with just a ball.

Another fun activity could be a scavenger hunt. Select items from around your neighborhood and have them take pictures or bring samples — things like leaves and pinecones or a picture of a mural or something that is the color red. Set a time limit and maximum distance; as always, keep safety in mind and make sure they have a buddy with them.

The backyard is an excellent location for outdoor, home-based learning. It has the added benefit of keeping kids within eyesight. Water-based sprinkler games can keep them cool while they play. Building a project with them like a stage for your budding actor or singer can have lasting benefits throughout the summer. Working on projects with your children can help you learn more about each other and build stronger bonds.

Gardening projects are also fun for children to engage with their natural environment throughout the summer. You can teach your children about positive and negative bugs, composting and soil types, and how to care for plants in general. You can also plant food. This has the added benefit of helping kids develop a better relationship with nutrition and their environment and gain an understanding of better eating habits. Plus, who doesn’t love the crunch of fresh peas plucked from the vine or fresh basil and tomato flatbread. If you don’t have a backyard garden check around your neighborhood to see if there is a community garden you can participate in. 

There are outdoor activities you can do at night as well. You can use a fence or wall to create a home theatre like a drive-in movie. Set up a tent, make smores, and eat popcorn, all from the safety and comfort of your backyard. Create a sound-based scavenger hunt and help your little ones identify the sounds of the night and what each nocturnal creature is probably doing, or teach your children about the universe with a stargazing exercise.

Why not get the whole community involved with a block party. This is an excellent way for the community to get to know each other, meet the new kids on the block, and share a meal. A well-organized block party can create lasting relationships within your neighborhood. Be sure to check with your local police and fire department to see if any permits will be required. Also, you can find more ideas in this article on easy screen-free activities.

Summer Activities with your Dog

Taking care of your dog, and having a commitment towards them is not limited to providing them shelter, food, and medical care, but to actually including them in activities that you like and enjoy. After all, loving you and being happy to see you is what they like the most and are best for.
Include them in things you both won’t have a problem going or staying. They are the ultimate forever puppies when it comes to fun, water, running, searching, finding, or just walking by your side. Make sure is a secure environment for both, and take supplies just in case you need them. Don’t forget the basics, such as having enough water if the trip requires it, a place to poop or pee and make sure to clean it, taking food in case time to eat gets in the schedule, but most of all pack tons of fun and patient to enjoy no matter what comes in the way. Make sure to stay safe though the entire journey and let people know where you will head to.

Water Activities

Jul22porch4When the temperature climbs, it may be time to explore water-based activities. Water play teaches hand-eye coordination, maths concepts like volume and weight, counting and numeracy, concentration and focus, social and communication skills, and motor and sensory skills. Remember to teach safety during water play. Running on slippery surfaces is dangerous, and water is a precious resource — turn all taps and hoses off when not actively in use.

Most people remember the fun of a balloon toss, but have you ever tried a balloon pinata? Fill up a balloon with water, suspend it and then have the kids take turns trying to pop it with a plastic bat. Don’t forget the blindfold. 

Another fun backyard water game is a wet sponge toss. Cut some sponges into long strips and tie them together in the middle so the sponges look like puffballs. Fill up a bucket of water, soak the sponges, and let the fun begin. Try this DIY dunk bucket or set them up with a game of duck duck splash – like duck duck goose, but with a cup of water on the head of the unsuspecting ‘goose.’

There are many home-based educational water activities that can be done with items found around the home. Simple games that involve a kiddie pool and varying cups or buckets can teach about water displacement, volume, and mass. More elaborate experiments like creating a water wheel with cups and a plate can teach about hydroelectricity. Help your knowledge-hungry student get ahead of the curriculum with a STEM-based water project. A water filtration challenge can teach about current issues the planet faces and how water filtration is handled in space. 

If you have a swimming pool, why not explore some new games. For their next pool party with friends, have all the kids get into the pool and line up along the edge. While in the pool, have them start walking around the pool, then jogging, then increasing to running. At that point, they should feel a strong pull of the current helping them along. Then abruptly have them change direction all at once to try to run. The current they have generated from going in the other direction will make this almost impossible. 

Fun Activities for Kids with Special Needs

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Though there are indeed different challenges when setting up activities for a child with special needs, it doesn’t have to limit the fun potential of the summer. Here are a few options that the whole family can participate in.
  • Family picnic – some of the fun with a picnic is picking the items. Choosing the food, bowls, napkins, and location can all be part of the fun.
  • Go to a farmer’s market or farm orchard – have them pick their favorite fruit or vegetable and select a market or farm known for that food. This is also a great way to teach them about where their food comes from.
  • Crafts day – have the family make letters out of construction paper and practice spelling each other’s names. You can scale this project for each family members learning level by adding tasks like memorizing the family phone number or address.
You can organize the activities by day, location or weather — on rainy days, make friendship bracelets, and visit museums or art galleries on Mondays.

Activities for Older Teens

Jul22porch6Summer doesn’t have to be all fun and games, however. Especially for older teens who may be thinking about their launch into college and life. One strategy to consider is using the summer months to earn college credits by encouraging your teen to take some CLEP (College Level Examination Placement) tests. These tests measure a college-level of knowledge and are available for many 34 subjects. These are not tests to be taken casually, they do cost a bit of money ($89 plus fees) to take and can be challenging. But the payoff can be HUGE!

Each successfully passed CLEP test can earn your student between 3 and 12 college credits. When you consider that the average cost of single college credit at an in-state public college is $432 and at a private college is about $1400, those earned CLEP credits will translate into hard cash in your pocket. With today’s sky-high costs for a university degree, why not get credit for the knowledge your student may already have. Even when a college doesn’t grant college credit for CLEP tests, they may allow your student to place into a higher level class on the subject, essentially eliminating the need and cost for taking some prerequisite classes.

CLEP tests have been used successfully for years by homeschoolers to reduce college costs, but are available for all high school students. If you have a motivated older teen, CLEP tests can be an outstanding and profitable way to reduce college costs and the time required to get a degree. Read more about how to implement this strategy in this article, Homeschool College This Summer.

The Fun Class is in Session

Jul22porch7Many games in this guide have an educational element, but you don’t have to tell them that. Kids learn best during play. You can use this opportunity to learn and play with them while guiding them through the activities. This has the added benefit of understanding their learning style while showing them the tricks and tips you use to understand and apply some of the concepts in the learning activities.

Summer activities for kids should be fun, creative, and inclusive. Children learn best with play, so don’t be afraid to add educational elements. Use the ideas in this guide to develop an activity-based plan for your little ones this summer. Keep them safe, keep them hydrated, and most importantly, keep them fun.

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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