Before you know it, it will be summer, and your kids won’t have school to occupy their time during the day. While this can be a great time for relaxation and rejuvenation (because your job as family chauffeur is on hiatus), it can also be a time when kids depend on electronics and other devices to keep them entertained.
Experts say that too much screen time at any age can be damaging to cognitive and social skills. So, what’s the alternative? Not everyone has the time to create elaborate activities for their kids all summer. For those of us who failed Pinterest University, here are some free activities that will encourage outdoor play and time away from tablets and TVs.
1. Outdoor reading time
Lay out a blanket or some beach towels in the front lawn or driveway and offer a choice of books. You could even include a bowl of fruit and some lemonade to entice them even more. You could also create a punch card or chart to track how many books they read over the summer and offer a small reward at the end of their vacation.
2. “Paint” the house
Give your kids a bucket of water and some paintbrushes and let them “paint” the outside of the house, the car or the porch. They won’t ruin your stuff and they’ll have fun splashing in the water. You could even draw letters, numbers or sight words on the driveway or sidewalk with chalk and have them trace each character with a wet paintbrush.
3. Take board games outside
If your kids are tired of being cooped up in the house, then send them outside with some board games or playing cards. Connect 4 and Slap Jack are even more fun when they’re played on the front porch or on blanket in the yard.
4. Play sports
If you have some sports equipment collecting dust in the garage (you know, that stuff you spent a fortune on before they decided that sport wasn’t for them), then have your kids put together a game with the neighbors or make up a new game using a combination of equipment.
5. Go on a scavenger hunt
Make a list of some of the items that can be found outside or around your home and give each child a list, a writing utensil and a magnifying glass. Have them scour the lawn for these hidden gems and check them off as they go. Offer an ice cream sandwich or a trip to the sno cone stand if they can find every item.
Jessa is the Editor-in-Chief of Hooray for Family and the mom of three energetic children. She has a BA in Mass Communication/Journalism from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and is a long-time resident of Central Texas. When she isn't writing and editing, she enjoys playing board games with her kids, teaching Sunday school and channeling her creativity into craft projects.