Last updated on April 7th, 2021
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Summertime. When the living is easy. Or so the famous George Gershwin song goes.
But summer didn’t always seem that easy once I had kids. Shifting from the lazy days of summer vacation as a teacher – when time was truly mine for a couple of months – to becoming the main form of entertainment for my kids was a bit of a shock.
Over the years, I have learned to cherish the summertime more than any other time of the year. I have my kids’ full attention for a couple of months. We have hours to explore, play and create together. And, if I plan our schedule well, summer is calm and relaxing.
It’s also some of the best time of the year to spend together as a family. Instead of checking off to do lists, our days are given over to getting lost in thought without a care in the world.
Enjoying the summer with kids can be so blissful when the time is used right.
When finding ways to enjoy summer with your kids, try to choose activities that you like to do too. If you absolutely hate fishing, you aren’t going to enjoy doing that activity as much as other ones. And no matter how enthusiastic you are about it, your kids can sense your discomfort.
Focus on sharing your skills, passions and experiences with your kids this summer. The results will be a lot more positive.
Over the years, I have learned lots of different ways to enjoy the summer with my kids. Here are some ideas to have fun and celebrate this joyous season together.
Play with Bubbles
Bubbles are fun for all ages. We love blowing them, experimenting with them and making art with them. So many possibilities.
You can make your own homemade bubble solution or purchase a large bubbles bottle (affiliate) to get you through the summer.
Another idea is to set up a bubble station for outdoor gatherings. This way kids can help themselves to bubble solution without having to keep asking.
For your bubble play, make a set of DIY bubble wands. Try these handmade wands to test different shapes. You can even make extra large bubbles that are sure to amaze.
Make Ice Cream
When I got married, top on my registry list was the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer (affiliate). That and a waffle maker. My mom said I would never use either. Turns out both have become quite handy. Nothing goes better together than waffles and ice cream.
We love making ice cream each summer. We usually choose one or two classic recipes that we love and then try a few new ones. This strawberry ice cream and lemon ice cream are the ones requested each season.
If you don’t have an ice cream maker at home, you can also try no churn versions. Or this ice cream ball (affiliate) was quite successful and a fun family activity to do together.
Even this electric ice cream maker (affiliate) reminds me of the one used in Anne of Green Gables. Just need to add the rock salt, churn a few times and the ice cream will be done.
Have a Lemonade Stand
Tap into your family’s entrepreneurial spirit and set up a lemonade stand. Make a few pitchers of lemonade, bake some summer goodies (like these pink lemonade cake pops) and add a few printable lemonade decorations. You can even announce your lemonade stand using this Free Printable Chalkboard Lemonade Bunting.
Then, start selling. If you live on a quieter street, let your local social media network know to come on over.
While hosting the lemonade stand, you can also give back to the community. Ask customers to donate an item for your local food pantry in exchange for a glass of lemonade or a baked good.
Or donate the proceeds to a cause your kids love. Our family donated last year’s lemonade stand money to support the dolphin rescue at our local aquarium. Customers were even more eager to buy and the kids learned about how to support something important to them.
Crafts, Crafts and More Crafts
I am known in our house for declaring summer afternoons as “crafternoons”. This is a time that we craft and make things together.
Although most think of summertime as a chance to get outdoors – and it is – that can get tiring and hot. I love to give a break in the afternoons to craft together. I choose classic crafts that we love – such as making friendship bracelets, beading and painting. Or newer ideas such as this shark porthole sun catcher or decorating paper mache letters.
Not sure where to begin? Check out these themed craft kits from Orange Art Box (affiliate). Choose a theme that your child will love and they’ll send you all the materials to make several art projects together. Such a fun way to spend the lazy days of summer.
Take a Hike
Exploring the outdoors as a family is one of our favorite summer activities. We love to discover new local hiking trails or traverse ones that we know well.
Use the app AllTrails to help find hiking trails in your area. Look at the terrain and length carefully to pick a trail that the whole family can enjoy.
And make sure you pack well for your hike. Check out the book Let your Kids Go Wild Outside by Fiona Bird (affiliate) for a list of things to include in your basic wild knapsack. She also includes lots of activities to enjoy outdoors as a family.
Go on a Picnic
Another way we enjoy getting outdoors in the summer is going on a picnic. On a sunny day, we will bring the picnic blanket out back and spread our lunch or dinner outdoors. Something about the change of scenery makes sharing a meal together more fun.
You can also take your picnic to a local park or on your hike. It’s always fun to enjoy a meal somewhere other than your kitchen.
Okay, so this is one that’s on my family’s bucket list for this summer. Everyone wants to go on a camp out. For seasoned campers out there, enjoy. You know what to do.
If you are new to camping, like me, no worries. Start with finding a camping tent and sleeping bags that you love for your family. Then, head outside to your backyard.
For your first camping experience, I don’t recommend going too far. Let everyone acclimate themselves to their new surroundings.
After one or two (or for me, maybe four or five) backyard camp outs, consider venturing a bit further. Think about a location within a half hour. That way if it doesn’t go as well as hoped, you can always come home.
Once everyone is used to the idea of sleeping outdoors (this could take a couple of seasons for some), you can start embracing a true camp out experience.
This is one of our favorite simple summer traditions – evening walks around the neighborhood. After dinner, we love to go for a family stroll together. It let’s everyone get out extra energy before bed. And the weather is cooler, so it’s nice to be outdoors.
Start your own evening walk tradition as a family. Head out after dinner or a time that works best for you. We have a friend that takes his family on a bike ride when he’s done his work day.
This is also a great time to talk. With the kids usually riding bikes or scootering ahead, it’s some of the only time I have to catch up with my husband. And I really enjoy having a second to check in about our day.
Explore your Own Backyard
And I’m not talking about your physical backyard. You probably already know that space pretty well.
I’m thinking about your local community. It’s amazing how many gems are out there only a few miles away.
We love exploring different places in our neighborhoods. From our local science museums to painting pottery, there are lots of fun things that you can do in your own backyard.
Check out local parenting websites and tourist guides to find undiscovered hidden treasures. I’ve been amazed how many fun things are in the neighborhoods surrounding us that we haven’t explored yet.
We also enjoy diving into the different libraries in our library system. Each library offers so many various programs and assortment of books to browse. This is a simple and fun way to explore our backyard gems together.
Go Berry Picking
Another summer family favorite is going berry picking. Starting in May with strawberries and going to July with blueberries, we really enjoy gathering our own delicious fruits of the season.
Depending on the berry picking place, don’t forget to bring your own containers. Much to my surprise, a lot of berry picking farms do not provide containers to pick with. And plan on picking more than you plan. Berry picking is one thing that’s hard to control. Don’t worry, you’ll eat them (or bake with them).
Head to the Kitchen
One of our favorite places that I enjoy in the summer with the kids is baking in the kitchen. With the busyness of the school year, we don’t always have a lot of time to spend exploring new recipes or making old favorites.
Find a recipe (or two) and make it together as a family. If it’s too hot to turn on the oven, try a no bake recipe like these no bake mini berry tarts.
When baking together, use the bounty of fruits and vegetables from the summer. And make things that your family will love. And the best part. You get to eat your creations!
Play Flashlight Tag
Nothing beats warm summer nights, especially ones filled with laughter and family fun. Make those summer evenings extra awesome with a game of flashlight tag.
Before playing – in the daylight – check the area for obstacles. Remove any BBQ grills, lawn chairs, bird baths or other things players might trip on in the dark.
When you are ready to play, give the person whose “It” a flashlight. All other players run and hide.
The “It” looks for other players and shines the flashlight at them. Once “tagged” (hit with the flashlight beam), the player goes to jail. Choose a well lit area – such as a porch – for the jail. Players that are not tagged can get the other players out of jail. The game ends when all of the players are in jail.
Love flashlight games? Check out these other flashlight game ideas to light up a summer night.
Welcome the Fairies
Although fairies flutter to gardens year round, they are most active in the spring and summer months. Welcome your own fairies to your backyard by creating a fairy garden. These adorable miniature gardens are fun to make together. Craft little fairy houses, add a babbling brook and consider all of the luxuries your fairies will need.
You can find ideas to make your own teacup fairy garden here. It’s the most whimsical one for welcoming the fairies.
Learn Something New
Just because it’s summer, doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Find an interest that your whole family is into and enjoy summer with your kids by exploring it together.
Whether you want to grow a garden, learn a creative skill (such as knitting or clay work) or try your knack at kayaking, doing things together is always more fun. To get started, check out YouTube videos and find books at your local library. You can even take a class on MyBluprint (affiliate) or Outschool (affiliate).
Once you become acquainted with your new skill, go try it together as a family. It’s lots of fun to develop an interest that you will all enjoy.
Although we make a lot of crafts in the studio on hot summer afternoons, I also like to move creating outdoors. Take your painting supplies outside on a summer day. I try to find a fun vista – mountain view, forest, lake or even backyard trees – to give us something new to paint.
If your littles have trouble balancing the paper/canvas and paints, get them a table top easel (affiliate). This will help them prop up their supplies while still being able to paint.
Gazing up at the stars is one of our favorite nighttime activities in the summer and a great way to get to know the night sky. Take your family on a star gazing expedition. Pack blankets and lawn chairs, grab your telescope if you have one and head out to an open field, park or even your backyard.
Using a star gazing app or star finder’s guide (affiliate), look up. You can identify the different constellations and planets. And watch for shooting stars.
Also, be sure to pack mugs of hot cocoa. Just in case it gets too chilly.
Drop Everything and Read
Although summertime is all about having fun together around here, we also try to keep up with our reading. Celebrate reading together as a family by planning a time to Drop Everything and Read.
Better known as D.E.A.R, this is a scheduled afternoon where everyone drops everything that they are doing and curls up with a book. I try to have one about once a week in the summer.
There are lots of fun places to read outside in the summer. Curl up in the hammock or snuggle on sleeping bags in a tent – even in the middle of the day if it isn’t too hot. We place beach chairs on our lawn and read in the shade.
I also serve refreshments of lemonade and cookies when reading. Nothing makes reading time more fun than a sweet treat.
Pick Up Baseball Game
Or you can make it kick ball or another sport your family enjoys. You don’t have to be on an official team to enjoy sport you love. Head over to the park or even in your backyard to play together.
Depending on how many people are playing baseball, have one person pitch and another hit. The rest can field in the outfield. Set up the field with two bases. The hitter needs to tag the one in the field and make it home before the pitcher gets the ball again. Then, switch. So much fun!
Hunt for Treasure
Our family finds a lot of joy in finding treasure. Something about hunting for things is a lot of fun.
Enjoy the summer with your kids by sending your family on a scavenger hunt. Make a list of things to find (or take a photo of). Divide into teams or go out as a group. Locate the items on the list.
Another idea is to set up a treasure hunt. Hide a special treasure – a new toy, game, s’mores making supplies, etc. – and write up clues to go find it. Your family follows the clues in search for the treasure. Check out these awesome tips for hosting a treasure hunt here.
Invite Bugs to Spend the Night
My family wants a pet. More on that later, but one way I have solved their pet yearning desires is inviting bugs to spend the night. No, I am not talking about invasive insects. More like backyard bugs such as grasshoppers, crickets, ladybugs and fireflies. Although, some of those might be considered invasive. Most importantly, only for one night.
To make the bugs feel welcome, we set up a bug hotel using a mason jar. Fill with some dirt and things the bug can climb on a eat. Poke holes in the top of the jar lid. Then, catch a bug outside and let him spend the night. You can even name it and take it for a walk. In the jar, of course. After the night is over, release the bug back outside.
You can also make a worm hotel and watch them dig in the soil. Check out the easy how to here.
If you’re looking to spend a peaceful summer afternoon with your kids, head down to your nearest pond and throw in the fishing line. Fishing is one of the most relaxing summer activities. Even if you don’t enjoy fishing.
The thing about fishing is that it’s not really about fishing. You don’t have to catch anything. It’s about spending time together.
Oh, and if you’re worried about putting a worm on the hook. Don’t. Kids seem to love this job.
Take a Dip
Once it gets really hot in the summer, it seems like no one wants to do anything. Even celebrate summer.
Time to head to find some water to cool off in. Celebrating a summer with kids doesn’t seem complete with out a couple of trips to the local pool. I grew up kicking off summer each year at a classmate’s pool. It was always the location of our end of the year summer parties.
No pool in your area? You could also set up your own sprinkler in your backyard. This is one of my favorites for the littles to enjoy (affiliate). The spray seems just perfect for most littles – not too hard and not too light.
Another fun water activity is a setting up your very own splash pad (affiliate). These refreshing water toys are perfect for running through, playing in the spray or just basking in the middle of the water. A wonderful way to cool off without going swimming.
Or you could get a baby pool for wading. We have lots of fun dipping our toes and cooling off in this little inflatable pool (affiliate). You can even let your favorite toys have a pool party! And when you are finished using it as a pool, you can transform it into a ball pit.
Race Away the Afternoon
If your family loves competition, celebrate summer with an afternoon of relay races. Set up some fun races and invite everyone to participate together. You can even award homemade medals or take a family trip out for ice cream – winner picks the location.
Check out some of our favorite relay race ideas here. From spoon races or dress up relays, there are lots of ideas to fill a lazy summer afternoon.
Leap of Faith
I know. I know. Not everyone is a big fan of trampolines.
But I am not saying the trampoline needs to be in your backyard. One of our favorite places to cool off in the summer is the trampoline park. It’s indoors. Air conditioned. Not always that crowded. And they usually have jumping specials.
Check out your local trampoline park to see if there are any deals to be had. It’s an unexpected place to cool off when it gets hot.
One of the most refreshing summertime activities that we love is eating watermelon. We pick up huge watermelons at our local farmer’s market on summer mornings. Then, I slice it up and deliver to our neighbors by the afternoon.
And here’s a secret I haven’t told you yet. I’ve even had one roll out of my trunk and down our street once. I am convinced that it didn’t want to be eaten.
Next time you are at the store, grab a watermelon. Cut into slices, make into pops (like the ones above) or even create a refreshing watermelon slushy.
Then, sit back and enjoy eating it. It’s okay if the juice dribbles a little too. Getting covered in watermelon juice is all part of the fun.
Summer is such a wonderful time to spend together with your kids. Before the season begins, make a family summer bucket list. Write down the things that you want to do together. Then, try to do as many things as you can on the list. This is also a great way to make sure everyone gets to experience at least one thing that they are dreaming about.
Planning a summer party? Check out these awesome summer invitations and printables in our shop here.
Most importantly, celebrate the summer months with kids together. The memories will be priceless.