What to do with kids this summer
The long days of summer can be wonderful. Until you start hearing the word “bored” too many times. When my kids were younger, like under the age of 5, it was pretty easy to keep them busy as everything was physical. Give them outdoor toys, a water table or small pool, and they would play all afternoon. It also wore them out so they slept well. As they got a little older, I started mixing in some summer camps which would give them something new to try and it would add in some social aspects by seeing other kids. As they’ve gotten older, they’ve been really good at keeping themselves busy and they are past wanting to go to camps or splash in a blow up pool. But by now, the bliss of sleeping in late and being able to do the things they dreams about doing during the school day is a little ….. boring.
Also, I have to confess. My kids love electronics. My daughter likes her music and music videos, and is an artist who uses her iPad to draw amazing art. My son is a gamer – computer, Xbox and iPad – and likes to watch YouTube videos. It’s a balance letting them do things they love on their devices while resting their eyes and engaging their brains with other activities.
I've thought of some ideas to help you (ok me) and them get off the couch (but if you don’t want to, I’ve included some for the couch or floor). Some may be better for littler kids while others hit the preteen and teen ages. (And many can be adjusted for the age of your kids.) Many of these can be kept at home while others require getting in the car. We live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area so I’ve also included a few things specific to the Twin Cities.
I hope these ideas help keep the "I'm bored" to a minimum and also help create some great summer memories for you and your kids.
For the creative
- Get out the sidewalk chalk and draw a city
- Leftover school or your own craft supplies? Use them out and make a masterpiece
- Pick out a movie, make some popcorn, close the blinds and have an afternoon movie showing
- Have them make a book – complete with illustrations and a story. Depending on the age, you never know what you’ll get
- Go see a movie, on a nice day it’s probably empty and cool
- Play restaurant, but for real. Have them think up an idea for dinner, take them shopping for the ingredients. Let them make a menu, set the table fancy and help prepare and serve it
- Make cookies together (or something simple like Rice Krispies bars)
- Play charades
- Get out the LEGO’s and do a build challenge
- Get some air dry clay and create a summer sculpture. Paint it the next day.
For the action & outdoor loving
- Crank up the music and have a dance party. Rotate who judges the best moves
- Take a walk or a bike ride
- Head out to a local park and have a picnic and play on the playground
- Pitch a makeshift tent with sheets, bag clips (does anyone have clothes pins anymore?) and pillows outside (or inside if weather is bad). Let them take some books and treats into the tent.
- Go bowling
- Go mini golfing
- Older kids? Find a driving range, get a bucket of balls and see how far you can hit them.
- Set up a mini Olympics in the yard. The competitions can be anything.
For the inquisitive
- Visit your local zoo, and it doesn’t need to be a whole day and, depending on the zoo, you can just hit certain parts and come back a different day to check out what you missed
- Check out some of the local museums – science museum, art museums, children’s museums
- Pack up the kids and go on a road trip for the day. Have a sense of which direction to go with at least one sight seeing stop. Stop at gas stations to get treats. See an ice cream shop? Stop!
- Play hide and seek
- Make flubber (I prefer this to slime, recipe here)
- Visit a farmer's market and try some new foods, incorporate it into dinner
- Put together a scavenger hunt around the house or yard
- Play 20 questions
For the water lovers
- Turn on the sprinklers and let them run through (this counts as their shower/bath, right?)
- Find a local pool. Sometime local fitness clubs will let you pay for the day. Community center pools and YMCA pools are also great options.
- Fill up some balloons or get out the soakers and have a water fight
- Some lakes offer peddle boats for rent, go out and take a cruise of the lake
- Find a local park that has a splash pad, let the kids get wet while you sit with an iced coffee and watch
- Visit a water park for the day
For the gamers
- Grab a game – any game – and play it together
- Make up a game – kids always amaze me with their creativity. They could make a board game using craft supplies.
- Visit a local arcade, many are attached to bowling alleys or go to a place like Dave and Busters
- Watch a gamer movie like Pixels or Ready Player One
- An amusement park close by? Pack them into the car and get ready to spin
- Go outside and play a real life version of pac man. Mom or dad can be the Pac-Man and see if you can stay away from your ghosts (ok, this is tag but maybe it will fool them?)
Local to the Twin Cities
- Fort Snelling
- Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store
- Mill City Museum
- Science Museum of Minnesota
- Minnesota Children's Museum
- Minnesota History Center
- Minnesota Zoo
- Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
- Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe (check out Fly Over America)
- Minnesota State Fair (starts August 23rd through Labor Day)
- Minnehaha Falls at Minnehaha Regional Park (picnic or grab a bite at Sea Salt in the park)
- Centennial Lakes (peddle boats and mini golf)
- Segway Tours of Minneapolis and St. Paul (riders must be 12+)
- Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark
- Edina Aquatic Center
- Lazy Loon Lanes (a 30 min drive west of the cities, but great food too)
- Minnesota Renaissance Festival (this starts August 18th and is open weekends through the end of September)
* Make sure you check hours as some may be closed on certain days, have summer hours, or close for the season after Labor Day. Also many of these attractions have Groupon or Facebook coupon deals, so check their sites to save some money.