Sometimes, when late June arrives, our families find their level of activity screeching to a halt. Lazy weekend days are spent in pajamas, in front of the air-conditioner. Backyard lounge chairs and hammocks become ground zero for relaxation, but also a bit of laziness and inertia. And it’s important to allow kids some amount of downtime, so that they can recharge their batteries. But making sure little bodies are moving, engaged, and active is important, and physical activity can’t be put on hold for an entire season. Try a few of our recommended summer activities that will have you kids jumping, running, and climbing!
Hide and seek is a classic summertime go-to. Everyone takes his or her turn at rest, while hiding, and in motion, while seeking. The seeker, and the kids who are discovered early on, will be scrambling around the yard, and even the neighborhood, for hours. This is a game that kids rarely tire of, so it’s a great way to get them moving.
Another great way to get out and explore your neighborhood is simply by taking a walk with the family. Many families choose to take a walk in the morning hours, when the sun hasn’t yet caused temperatures to soar. Other families enjoy an evening stroll, as the weather cools down. This is a great way to bond with your kids, allowing them to explore their environment while chatting with you about what they see, what they did during the day, and what they are excited for tomorrow.
Take walking one step further with a hike Do you live near a park with a flat trail for running and hiking? That can be a perfect way to get little ones outside, moving, and enjoying nature. Older kids may be ready for a hike through a wooded or hilly area, picking up interesting branches and rocks, and pointing out familiar and unfamiliar plants along the way. Teach kids about nature, and help them to navigate the wilderness, while keeping their legs moving and their eyes wide open.
Scavenger hunt. In our neighborhood, as kids, our parents would encourage us to write down a list of some interesting things we thought we might be able to find in our neighborhood. You can make a similar list with your kids. Maybe they’ll spot a bird’s nest in a tree, or a neighborhood cat. Perhaps they’ll find a rock that looks like a person’s face, or even something as simple as a crosswalk or a traffic light. The longer the list, the more time on their feet.
The mud, dust, and pollen of spring and summer can really take a toll on your car’s exterior. Washing the car can be an excellent way of getting your kids moving, but also teaching them about responsibility and caring for their possessions. Give them all of the tools they need, including rags, soapy water and clean water, and even a toothbrush for those hard to reach spots. While younger kids might prefer to go to town on broad, flat surfaces, older kids might really surprise you with how sparkling clean they can get your car’s grill.
Balloons and beach balls are two of our favorite secret weapons during the summer months. Older kids will have a “ball”, literally, when you toss a few beach balls into the yard and cheer them on as they keep them in the air for as long as possible. Younger kids will be thrilled when you set a dozen balloons loose in their yard to be chased, batted, and caught.
If you’ve got a spacious in-ground pool in your backyard, you are all set. On the hottest and mot humid days, water activities will keep kids both active and cool all at once. But if you don’t have a pool, you’d be amazed at how long your kids will stay entertained when running around, over, and across the sprinkler! Check out your local parks and playgrounds, as water features and splash pads are popping up everywhere, and can be a great way to cool down on a hot summer Sunday.
Gardening is a perfect summer activity for kids. Since it’s best to work your garden in the evenings, this activity can take place after dinner, when the sun is low and the temps are dropping. Your kids will be pulling, digging, and carrying, all of which will keep them active, but they’ll also learn a lot about different types of soil, plants, and how plants thrive in the right conditions. This is a terrific activity for the entire family to participate in together.
Is it raining outside? That doesn’t mean the action has to stop. Ask your kids to spend a few hours organizing a talent show. Now, your children don’t need to be the next American Idols to pull this off. Encourage goofy dances to favorite songs, off-key singing, often in costume, and imperfect cartwheels accomplished by your budding gymnast. At the end of the show, everyone gets a prize, from popsicles made from fresh fruit to a few extra minutes of reading time before bed.
Your daycare, preschool, or childcare center may also have ideas that will keep your kids active this summer. When you drop them off, they embark on a day of scores of active adventures, and the childcare providers that work with them everyday can tell you exactly which activities engage them the longest.
Remember that safety is a priority when keeping kids active during the summer months. The middle of the day is usually the hottest time of day, when the sun is high in the sky. Make this time of the day a time for eating lunch, reading, napping, or even going to the mall or the movies. But morning and evening are perfect times to venture out and get moving. Make sure to pack water everywhere you go, as well as snacks that balance electrolytes, such as potassium-rich fruit and lightly salted, healthy snacks. A well-hydrated and nourished kid can enjoy summer activities for longer, and in greater spirits, so be prepared!