Temperatures are up, barbeques are out, and beaches are packed—in other words, summer is in full swing. It also means that the kiddos are out of school and home all season long. Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or you work full time, keeping your kids both entertained and stimulated during the summer months can be a daunting task.
Luckily, there are plenty of summertime activities that are fun for both parents and kids. You just have to know where to look. Here’s a breakdown of five ways to help your kids thrive (and have a blast) during summer vacation.
Cool off with out-of-the-box water games
Playing poolside or at the beach is often a go-to summertime activity. How about mixing it up a little? Putting a creative twist on water play is a great way to engage little ones (and get them moving at the same time). This can be as simple as putting a hot-weather spin on your favorite outdoor games.
For example, instead of a game of Duck, Duck, Goose, how about Duck, Duck, Splash? Setting up water balloon piñatas or creating a “kiddie car wash” in your yard are other simple, inexpensive ways to cool off and have fun at the same time.
If you’re looking for something with an educational edge, try setting up a big jug of water along with a handful of household items. Then have your kids predict which items will sink and which ones will float. Keeping a tally of the outcomes also reinforces skip counting by fives.
In fact, experts say that water play can help foster math and science comprehension, physical skills, language development, social/emotional skills and more!
Spark their imaginations with a game of dress up
If your kids are falling victim to summer boredom, try taking advantage of an awesome entertainment tool—your closet. Despite popular belief, girls aren’t the only ones who benefit from playing dress up. According to child development experts, dressing up tunes up the imagination of both boys and girls by encouraging role play and social development.
If your child is a nature lover, our Dreamy Dress-Ups are a perfect way to rev up little imaginations. These delicate wings transform kids into instant butterflies. They also go hand in hand with teaching basic science lessons, like the life cycle of a butterfly.
Simply put; old hats, scarves, dresses, ties and accessories can be a treasure trove for little ones engaging in fantasy play.
Explore day camps
When it comes to summer camp, sleep-away options aren’t the only choice. In fact, most towns offer a variety of specialized day camps—you just have to know where to look. Start by checking in with your local YMCA and library branches, many of which offer low-cost or free summertime activities for kids.
Everything from science and art camps, to technology and sports programs may be available. Scoping out your nearby recreational sports leagues can also reveal some great, previously unknown options.
For little ones, experts also say that day camps help preschoolers hone school-readiness skills like sharing, taking turns, following group directions and more. (They also give parents a much-needed break!)
Repurpose your toys
If you’re like most families, your kids likely have a crew of cuddly toys and stuffed friends right in their bedroom. Put them to use! A handy trick is to create a sense of novelty by rotating their toys.
Rotating toys actually increases appeal and can get kids excited about a once-forgotten Teddy. This is a much better option than prematurely giving away toys that your child may not be ready to part with. Instead, keep them out of sight and on deck. Periodically switching out toys ups both interest and motivation.
Hit up your local attractions
You don’t have to live near a theme park to take advantage of your town’s local tourist attractions. Contact your local museums and see what summer activities they have going on for kids. (Many offer special events and day programs specifically geared toward children on summer vacation.)
This can include scoping out nearby aquariums, zoos, water parks and more. Another bonus is that many offer discounted rates for residents who purchase a specialty package. Busch Gardens in Tampa, for example, offers an annual pass that comes with unlimited admission, free parking and other perks that make it a worthwhile buy. If you plan on visiting more than once this summer, it’ll ultimately save you money in the long run. Plus, it’s a special treat the kids will love!