Summer Fun Ideas

Updated on May 14, 2008
C.B. asks from Cherry Valley, MA
12 answers

Hello Girls,

Well summertime is approaching quickly & I'm in desperate need of plenty of fun-filled ideas for my boys (ages 3 1/2 & 6 yrs old). I've done loads of arts & crafts ideas with them & we read lots of books & do some sort of activity according to each book. We've baked or cooked simple things like cupcakes, jello, home made lemonade, etc. I'm just trying to think of some new different ideas to keep them occupied & entertained as well as teaching them. I'm an organized FREAK & scheduling is one of my favorite things to do. So when I have things all planned out -- the better. ** I do plenty of spontaneous things with them too, but I can't do it every day - i'm leaving that for atleast 2 days a week - i need a game plan for the rest of the time **

Any ideas would be great. Thanks for the help

Also - any classes or lessons (art, music, gym, etc) that my boys could take part in that isn't TOO expensive in my area? I"m new to Leicester & I"m not sure where everything is just yet.

Thanks again!
C. B.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for the awesome responses ... I too get Family Fun Magazine, as well as Parenting & Parents. I have tons of books with activities like "the everything toddler book" and "boredom busters" and I'm always hunting the web for new ideas.

The nature scavenger hunt is a definite for this year (we go on tons of hikes, but this year my 3 yr old should be at the perfect age for the 'searching' part) so thanks for that idea! Also, the gardening thing sounds like fun for the boys too! We've just been here at our new home for about a year now & now that we're in & situated, why not take advantage of our nice big yard to grow some yummy & healthy snacks. I love the herb pot idea too! As far as libraries & the other stuff - we do all that regularly. =0) I love getting the passes to places -- so anyone who doesn't know about them - now you do! Get them! It's so worth it!!! I'm looking more for like obstacle courses, outdoor site-seeing places, and even science projects for any rainy days inside. I feel like I've done SO MANY arts & crafts with my kids over the last 6 yrs (i've been fortunant to be at home their whole lives - yet I've read/researched so many ideas to stay busy & stimulate them that I should write a book of my own!) Any tips leaning more towards boyish things would be awesome as well. Sometimes I wish I had a little girl (along w/my boys!!!) b/c I have so many girlie things I could do w/a daughter, things I just CAN"T do with boys. LOL Thank you again ladies for the advice & tips. Have a wonderful day!!!

More Answers



answers from Boston on

Dear C.,

I don't mean to be mean, but I think you need to drop some of the focus on organization and being supermom. The best way to be a good mom is to let your boys have some freedom and input into the day, to let them make a mess (then pick it up), and to let them see their mom as a real, human being, rather than some magazine person or tv sitcom mom.

Similarly, boys can definitely entertain themselves. Stop worrying so much about keeping them constantly entertained or having new and novel things to do. At their ages, almost everything is new. They need repetition to develop their skills, so repeating the things you have already been teaching them is just fine and dandy. Cupcakes, banana bread, simple english muffin pizzas, fruit pies or even veggie dishes can be fun, healthy and good to prepare them for their own kitchens someday.

Don't be afraid to teach them how to help with the laundry-- sorting clothes, treating stains, loading/unloading, folding, etc. That will take some time to do as well. Kids can and do enjoy simple chores when done in the right spirit. Turn on some good music, dance a bit with them and the laundry. Remember Mary Poppins' advice about a "spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down".

Add in some nature walks. Take your time. Look under stones. Watch the ants, stop to marvel at the bees.

If you have a dog, walk it with them. (If not, maybe you can borrow a dog to walk from one of your neighbors?) Stop and talk to the neighbors. Introduce your sons to everyone and encourage them to be a part of the conversation. It will help them feel more confident and to develop their communication and conversational skills.

Look for some leaves which are pretty or interesting shapes and sizes. These can be pressed in wax paper using an iron to create a nice wall decoration.

Being spring, plant a garden. Let them dig up an area in the yard or create a small garden in a pot or box. Help them to choose appropriate seeds and to plant them correctly. Make it a project to water them and care for them as needed.

Maybe you might "read the paper" together. Choose some appropriate stories from the newspaper and have the older one read them out loud. The Boston Globe runs some great, paragraph-long stories on pages 2-3 each day which might be just perfect. They tend to be diverse, interesting, often upbeat and make great discussion material. It's never too early to get them thinking and interested in the outside world, and to begin to understand politics and become familiar with world issues, etc.

If applicable-- make time for faith and discussions of God and prayer. So often we push God off to Sundays as if He is irrelevant to our daily lives. Take the kids to a weekday mass (if Catholic) or simply to visit the church or its grounds and discuss the statues and other reminders of faith. Look up the name of the church. If related to a saint, learn the saint's story. Take the time to introduce your children to the parish staff and pastor/minister. It makes them feel more connected to the Sunday worship and gives them more opportunity to develop social/communications skills. Plus, clergy (like all humans) try to make a special effort to reach out to the children they know with some sort of conversation or friendly gesture. That also helps to connect the children to the parish life and make them feel special and important.

Do you have some nice trees with low branches they can climb? Boys can keep themselves busy on trees for long periods, bike-riding too. The younger one can be on a bike with training wheels by now. Nor do boys ever seem to tire of bouncing balls and practicing for sports teams-- get a children's basketball hoop, a nerf hoop perhaps for the younger one. Soccer balls, fuss balls, whiffle balls and plastic bats, etc.

Teach them to dig-- let them build forts, give them timed projects like make 15 mudpies in 5 minutes or other simple counting and hand-coordination games. A good memory game is to put a bunch of different, small objects on a tray. They get a minute or two to study the tray. Then hide the tray and have them list all the objects they can remember on a piece of paper. While with similarly aged children, this can be a competition, with the big age difference between your boys, they might work on it together.

Start a daily routine-- get up at a certain time, say prayers, do reading, go for walk, have a playtime, have a learning activity time and set "free time" intervals. As with the classroom, children like structure and knowing what to expect. Fortunately, one can be spontaneous still within structure. Set aside certain days for outings and outside classes/activities, etc. There can be "mystery" days, too, when one does something unexpected-- like do a dress up in costume, or walk backwards down the street. Simple, funny, humorous things to make the summer fun.

Also, the kids are an age for selling lemonade in the neighborhood, learning to do simple chores around the house (like emptying trash baskets, watering plants and helping with laundry, as described above). One can have a cleaning day which might also include washing the car or dog outside (something quite fun to do on a hot summer's day). There's no reason chores cannot be a good learning experience as well as fun.

And, what about play groups and neighbors-- get together sometimes with others. Kids love to be with other kids. It gives all the moms a chance to talk like normal adults while the kids amuse themselves. Go to the library for children's story times. Go to petting zoos, organic farms, different sorts of museums or factory tours. Chocolate factories are very fun tours.

Go to the ocean. Take long walks, pick up shells, climb the rocks, wade in the water. If one goes later in the day, the fee goes down, the sun is less intense, and there are usually far fewer people around. Get books on different kinds of birds and point them out in the back yard or at the ocean. Learn to recognize the many different kinds of plants and trees in our forests.

The list is endless.

God bless,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

Lets see... not sure what your yard is like, but my kids LOVE to go outside and do scavenger hunts... I give them each a card of things to find (pictures)... acorn, dandelion, bark, bug, rock round like a ball, something red, xmas tree branch, etc. We live at the edge of the woods so there is a LOT to find. They can collect them in a bag and then glue them to cardboard to make a collage. My daughter found a snake skin once which was a HUGE treasure.

Another quick idea that they like is to hang an old sheet up and let them squirt paint it with squirt guns and food coloring / water.

They also like to paint pinecones - takes a long time becuase of all the little parts. We have glued on eyes and make creatures. Painting rocks is fun too....

YOur boys are also at a great age to play :King for a day" - talk about it beforehand and explain how there are so many decisions to make during the day... what to eat, where to sit, what show to watch, what book to read, where to go to play, etc. and that for one day (they can each have a turn) THEY get to make those decisions. Mine planned out their day ahead of time so I could plan myself. I was a little afraid they would want to do outlandish stuff, but at this age (mine are 3 and 5) they were so excited to just choose that we ended doing things like going to the grocery store to buy the dinner she wanted, going to the library, and going for a hike / bike. I did put limits on it (ie... has to be in town, etc).

Anyway - I love your question becuase I am always looking for things to do as well... Ill check back to see what else people come up with. Have fun! J.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

The Worcester Public Library has passes to many area museums - Art Museum, Higgins Armory and Ecotarium in Worcester, the Roger Williams Zoo and Park (fee for the zoo, not the park) down Route 146 in Providence, Southwick's Zoo in Mendon (zoo, pony rides, petting area), and Davis Farmland (up 290 to 190). None of these are bad drives. There are also museums in Boston and Acton when the kids get older, unless they are fabulous travelers already. Try the natural areas (e.g. Audubon properties) and State Parks/Reservations like Purgatory Chasm in Sutton. Take a drive to the Worcester Airport - no commercial traffic but there are some private planes. If you take the Mass Pike east 2 exits (25 cent toll) and get off at Millbury, turn right on 122 and follow signs after a few miles to Route 30, you will pass Tufts Veterinary Hospital, and they have a large field on the left (after the buildings) where you can walk, fly kites, walk dogs, etc. A little further down Route 30 just over the line in Westboro is Nourse Farm, with pick-your-own berries and their own ice cream, plus cows to check out in the fields. If you continue into Westboro and take 135 East about 3/4 mile, turn left at Harvey's Farm -- some farm animals, bunnies, and a covered bridge over a pond filled with catfish. There is no fee to look, and animal feed can be purchased in the store.

Otherwise, plant carrots and beans, radishes (they grow fast), tomatoes, etc. You can get kid-sized garden implements and gloves. Hunt bugs and critters, get magnifying glasses, etc. Paint rocks and create a rock garden. Plant pumpkins for Halloween. Run thru the sprinkler. Create stick art by tying them into shapes with twist ties. Glue small sticks and pebbles and small pine cones to flower pots, then plant herbs or patio tomatoes in them.

For everything you undertake, try getting a book or even a video at the library on that topic.

OFten the local fire department will let the kids visit, climb in the trucks and ambulances, etc. Just don't promise the kids - if there is an emergency, they're out of luck!

Have fun learning about the area!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

How about a bike and big wheel decorating day with an obstacle course at the end with finish line and racing checkered flags etc



answers from Burlington on

Adventure trips. To the library, to the park, to a nature walk, to a museum, to Daddy's work, to a playground, to a business that has tours - a factory, a farm, etc., to a place that would interest your 6 year old (Ex. If he likes to draw - to an art store, to a museum). Show them the possiblities of this world.



answers from Boston on

I know at Wal-Mart they have alot of different type of outdoor sidewalk chalk. If you have a driveway that you can be creative.



answers from Boston on

You should check with your local YMCA as well as the Boys and Girls clubs. They have days when there is free swim which you could spend some time in their pool and they sometimes have other activities they can participate in.

Good luck!!!




answers from Hartford on

You should probably check out your local park and rec programs.
And your boys are not too young to start swimming lessons also

good luck to you




answers from Boston on

Hi C.,

I get the Family Fun magazine and it is AWESOME! They have games, crafts, cooking and lots of other stuff to do. If you need ideas this is a great place to get them. If you dont want to subscribe to the magazine, you can also get lots of ideas at thier website, Check it out.




answers from Hartford on

These are fun to make with kids:

MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.06

Title: Muddy Buddies
Yield: 9 Cups

9 c Rice Chex
1 c Chocolate chips, semi-sweet
1/2 c Peanut butter
1/4 c Butter or margarine
1 ts Vanilla extract
1 1/2 c Powdered sugar

Pour Rice Chex into a LARGE bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat melt chocolate chips, peanut
butter, and margarine until smooth, stirring often. Remove from
heat; stir in vanilla.

Pour chocolate mixture over cereal, stirring until all pieces are
evenly coated. Pour cereal mixture into a jumbo sized Ziploc bag
with powdered sugar. Secure bag and shake until all pieces are
well coated. Refrigerate until cool.

Note: Do not use reduced-fat margarine or butter as it may cause
chocolate mixture to clump and will not coat the cereal evenly.

Source: Rice Chex box - 1995

MM format: A. B

Comment: Best to put the coated cereal into 2 bags with sugar. (one for each kid!)

Comment: My grandsons invented Butter Buddies by substituting
butterscotch morsels for chocolate chips.




answers from Lewiston on

what about planting a vegtable garden for them to take care of. this is a good way to spend fun family time together every day. your boys will see the benefits from thier hard work.



answers from San Francisco on

Dear C.,

Oh my gosh - do I ever have a great book to suggest - it is called Unplugged Play and you can get it at Amazon. Also check out Boston Central on-line for free and low cost ideas in your area. Have fun! L. S.

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