What are Some Family Friendly Summer Activities?

wiseGEEK Writer

Children seem to inevitably get to a point in summer where they exclaim, loud and often, “I’m bored!” When kids seem to be hitting that point, you can get to work providing plenty of family friendly summer activities that can keep all members of the family interested and entertained. In fact, it’s highly recommended you try some of these suggestions to stave off or completely avoid the boredom that a long summer can bring.

Families might enjoy working together in a home garden during the summer.
Families might enjoy working together in a home garden during the summer.

Unless children are attending summer school, one of the benefits of summer is the lack of pressure to “perform” for school. You may not have to devote hours to helping with homework, and all kids benefit from a little unstructured time. However, too much unstructured time can be as bad as none at all. It’s a good idea to plan some summer activities that are structured so children still have a routine in place, instead of sitting open-mouthed in front of televisions or computer screens for hours.

A picnic is a great way for families to enjoy the outdoors.
A picnic is a great way for families to enjoy the outdoors.

You don’t have to be wealthy to plan a lot of summer activities, and these suggestions are primarily for the families that aren’t planning on extended vacations. Instead, they can make up the everyday time slots of summer so kids stay active and have fun along with their parents. First off, if you are budgeting, search your Park and Recreation Center for free or cheap family friendly summer activities.

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A jigsaw puzzle can encourage siblings to work together, while keeping them occupied for a few hours in the day.
A jigsaw puzzle can encourage siblings to work together, while keeping them occupied for a few hours in the day.

Some cities offer things like special family bowling nights, movies or plays in local parks, free days to museums, or cheap days at various cultural and social events or local swim centers. Many Parks and Recreation centers also offer inexpensive to free classes that can be taken by whole families. Why not take Russian folk dance if it’s free? Or learn how to speak conversational Spanish at a low price? Maybe it’s time to really train the dog, or learn the basics of photography.

Hosting a barbecue is a great summer activity.
Hosting a barbecue is a great summer activity.

Summertime also gives many the option of spending lots more time outdoors. There’s no reason why you can’t have dinner at a local park, or institute a family park visit a few nights a week when the weather is cooperative. Just be sure to put on your sunscreen if it’s still light outside, and make certain to wear a good insect repellent to avoid evening bug bites from mosquitoes.

A relaxing day fishing is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
A relaxing day fishing is something that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

If the house is impossibly hot, head to the nearest park in cooler evening hours with your favorite board games, or use the time to allow kids to burn off steam by playing on park equipment. Alternately, turn the sprinkler on for a little inexpensive fun getting wet, or have a few water sprayer fights with kids. Kids often love it when parents get involved in the fun and play along.

Stargazing is a nighttime activity families can enjoy.
Stargazing is a nighttime activity families can enjoy.

Keep planned events like family game night alive during the summer, and also consider working on some type of project as a whole family. You might, for instance, work on a jigsaw puzzle together — a really big one that will take up several days. Another suggestion is to choose books to read together as a family. Read and discuss a favorite book, or choose summer activities that give back to the community like volunteering to clean up local parks or creeks.

Going for a bike ride is a great summer activity.
Going for a bike ride is a great summer activity.

Summer activities can also involve learning and reinforcing things taught in school in less structured ways. If you want your kids to become good at fractions and math in general, help them by teaching them how to weigh and measure for recipes and how to double, triple or halve recipes. Let kids be involved in the day to day running of the house and keep them writing by having them compose shopping lists, and helping with the cooking. The whole family can learn new recipes, or how to make a treat they love.

Training the dog is a good activity to do in the summer months.
Training the dog is a good activity to do in the summer months.

Don’t underestimate the value of daytime excursions out of your city. Even if you can’t afford to take long vacations, most families can usually pursue summer activities like day trips to semi-local points of interest. Explore what it’s like to visit another town for a day, or plan a few day trips to large cities.

Area businesses may host fireworks shows during the summer.
Area businesses may host fireworks shows during the summer.

Since school can be such a big part of life, keep up social engagements with other families during the summertime. Plan a few playdates with the whole family and other families from school. Sometimes parent organizations have summer activities pre-planned for school families. These are often inexpensive ways for the whole family to have a good time and maintain close ties with schoolmates and parents.

Families may just choose to stay in and have a movie night.
Families may just choose to stay in and have a movie night.
Families might spend time playing video games together.
Families might spend time playing video games together.
Some families enjoy catching fireflies in a jar at night.
Some families enjoy catching fireflies in a jar at night.
Families may enjoy a game of backyard football.
Families may enjoy a game of backyard football.
Families often enjoy going to the beach during the summer.
Families often enjoy going to the beach during the summer.
Outdoor dinner parties are a popular summer activity.
Outdoor dinner parties are a popular summer activity.
Families may enjoy going to a baseball game together.
Families may enjoy going to a baseball game together.
A family might spend a summer day reading together.
A family might spend a summer day reading together.
Many families enjoy a trip to the beach during the summer.
Many families enjoy a trip to the beach during the summer.
Camping is a popular summer activity.
Camping is a popular summer activity.
A trip to an aquarium is an educational family excursion.
A trip to an aquarium is an educational family excursion.

Discussion Comments

rosequartz

For our family, summer has always been a time to share our lifestyle, faith and country. What I mean by this is that we always enjoy hosting an exchange student from another country for a month each summer. Since we can't afford to travel the world, we bring the world here to our home and exchange our cultures in a home environment.

Our kids summer activities are based on where we live. We love to canoe, kayak, play at the beach, swim, surf, sail and water ski. When we host an exchange student, we share our love for nature with the student and also learn the student's culture and language.

This is something our family looks forward to every single year!

Jester39

@Firstbase - I agree! Parents need to utilize the summer months for play and for work!

We offer our kids plenty of outdoor summer activities - mostly at the beach, pool, or boating.

But we also like to teach our kids how to do something that they've never tried before; whether it's snorkeling or learning how to do a back flip, they usually find something new to do every summer.

This summer I'm helping my kids learn how to care for our pets on a deeper level. Sure, they take the dogs for a walk and know how to feed and water them. But bathing? That's always been a bit of a challenge to the kids. They are afraid of getting water in a dog's eye or nose and I finally said, this is the summer you learn how to be a pet owner (since they always beg for more pets, more pets).

Each child has the responsibility to bathe a dog once every two weeks. Since we have two dogs, each child gets the chance to bathe and blow dry each one often throughout the summer. This helps them understand that to be a pet owner is not all fun and games.

FirstBase

Summer is always a great time to enjoy outdoor activities such as swimming, mini-golf, hiking, tennis, biking, croquet, or roller blading and skateboarding.

Don't forget to use this time to teach your kids how to take care of the lawn and the bushes. These activities, while mundane to the parents, can bring about a whole new level of maturity and creativity for your kids.

For example, teach your kids to help you mow the lawn and edge (the boring part) and also how to trim bushes.

One summer my youngest child was asked to trim a particularly wild bush. He trimmed it, all right. After a recent trip to Disney World, he had Micky Mouse on his mind. He trimmed one unruly bush into the shape of Mickey's head. Our neighbors oohed and ahhed over that bush all summer.

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