25 TV-Free Summer Family Activities

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woolywonderworks on flickr
It's a beautiful day! Go outside! Do something!

When boredom hits (usually about two days into summer vacation), fun and interesting activities can be hard to find. So be prepared: Print off a copy of the list below and tape it to your fridge. Even if you decide not to do any of these activities, reading through them will likely get your own creative juices flowing to wash away that boredom in no time!

1. Plant a garden

If you don't have space for a large garden, you can use a large pot (or 1/2 barrel) filled with soil. Flower gardens are great, but so are vegetable gardens. Three things that seem to be the best for young children to plant are fast-growing radishes, tall sunflowers, and pumpkins for carving or mini ones for enjoying.

2. Go to the park

Bring bread to feed the ducks, if there are any to feed!

3. Pick up litter in your neighborhood or at a park

Wear thick gloves.

4. Play an old-fashioned game

Duck, Duck Goose, Ring Around the Rosies, London Bridge, etc. Your local library probably has a book or two that lists various games and their rules. Invite the neighbors over to play.

5. Have relay races

Egg toss, 3-legged race, ball (or egg) on a spoon, etc.

6. Wash the car

Especially good for a hot day!

7. Pick flowers and deliver them to a neighbor

Make their day!

8. Play reverse musical chairs

Take a chair away just before the music starts each time, just as in regular musical chairs, but no one ever goes "out." Instead, those who are without a chair to sit on must sit on someone's lap. Soon the pile-ups will have everyone laughing too much to play anymore!

9. Blow up a couple of balloons

This is an inexpensive way to have a lot of fun, and planned games are unecessary, as they'll be tossing them around and having fun before you could say anything anyway!

10. Write a story together
Have one person start the story, then another continues, then another, and so on. You can just tell it or tape-record it instead of writing it down. To make a funny story, have each person write down just one paragraph of a story separately. Give them a subject or a few starter words, then put them together to make one story.

11. Write special notes to each other

Leave notes on the recipient's pillow for them to find at night. This is a good way to keep the kids writing over the summer.

12. Have a treasure hunt

The treasure could be something small and simple, such as stickers, candy, or even just a picture of a treasure box full of jewels. Let the kids each take turns hiding a treasure and drawing up the map.

13. Have a girls' night

Send the men (and/or boys) of the family out somewhere, or have them watch a video in one room while the girls spend time together in another (or hold a boys' night at the same time--camping out, going to a ballgame, doin' guy stuff). Have fun giggling, doing hair and nails, playing dress-up or whatever.

14. Throw a family dance party

Blow up a couple of balloons, stick in a tape or CD and have some fun! Don't worry if someone doesn't really know how to dance, just move.

15. Go to the library

Make this at least a weekly event. Get both individual books and a family book that you will read from together each day. Even older children who know how to read usually enjoy hearing stories, and you can talk about the books as a family as well.

16. Put on a family play

The kids write the script and design the costumes. Keep it simple. When the play is ready, perform it for Grandma or some willing neighbors. Be sure to pass out tickets to the event, and assign someone to be the ticket-taker.

17. Play tic-tac-toe using sidewalk chalk

18. Play "Name that Tune"

One person chooses a song that everyone knows and hums or plays the first four notes. If no one can guess the song, then five notes are hummed, then six, and so on. This can be a good travel game, provided the players can hum loudly enough for everyone to hear.

19. Hold cooking classes

Teach the kids how to follow a recipe and cook meals, but also have some fun cooking desserts. Have a contest to see who can make up the best original recipe, then let everyone enjoy eating their creations.

20. Make up a news report and tape it

Don't forget the commercials!

21. Make homemade ice cream or popsicles

22. Get a book of science experiments and try some

23. Learn something new together

A foreign language, karate, square dancing, knitting, flower arranging, etc.

20. Ride the bus

If riding the bus is not something that they regularly do, the kids will probably get a thrill out of doing it. You can entice older kids to come along if the ride includes a stop at the ice cream store!

21. Fly a kite

Go to the park or a school field.

22. Volunteer in the community

Most communities have abundant opportunities for giving service, and should have at least a few that are appropriate for younger children (as long as you are there to supervise them).

23. Make homemade greeting cards

Make a whole boxful of assorted cards for various occasions to use the rest of the year. Or make Christmas cards now to give later, or to sell in the fall to earn a little Christmas cash.

24. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest

For the brave, try a a pie eating contest!

25. Build a model house

Use toothpicks and gum drops, or pretzels and peanut butter.

After trying some of these activities, if a family member says they can't think of anything to do, ask them to come up with an idea--brainstorm a list if you like. Being self-entertaining is a habit that strengthens through practice. Hopefully these suggestions will serve as exercise equipment for the imagination. Happy summer!

Alice E. Workman is the mother of three, a writer and homeschooler. She is the Editor of Love of Learning, a free email newsletter for parents and homeschoolers. Information and back issues of Love of Learning can be found at http://edsupply.hypermart.net