Family · kid stuff · motherhood

Ideas for Summer

I would love to hear some ideas about things to do during the summer when school doesn’t take up a bulk of our day. Too much free time combined with bored kids is a disaster waiting to happen. I would love to be proactive and plan things for the kids to do. My children are 10, 10, 9, and almost 7 years old.

To get your juices flowing I’d love to here about:

1. good read aloud books for the summer

2.  craft ideas

3. outdoorsy activities

4.  educational options

5.  community opportunities (reading programs, service projects, etc.)

6.  Serving in the church potential especially for the boys.

Even if you don’t have kids, or if your kids aren’t my kids’ ages,  please feel free to respond. I’m sure my girlfriends with preschoolers would love ideas as well, so fill up the comment box, or write a post and let us know about it.

34 thoughts on “Ideas for Summer

  1. a few ideas (maybe all ones you’ve already tried)

    1. go to a local nature center and get a list of hiking trails in your area (I’m thinking hiking may not be a big thing in they have trails?). Make a goal of getting through the trails over the course of the summer. Take a picnic lunch, sunscreen and bug repellant and have fun!

    2. Have moms w/ young kids over to your house for some mutual entertainment. 🙂 I always loved when you did this. I’m sure the ladies in OH will love it, too.

    3. Pick one kid a week to be your “cooking buddy”. Allow the child to learn from and help you w/ some meals you make that week.

    4. Pick a “city” day and look something up ahead of time to do in Cleveland or Akron. I’m sure the OH locals will have lots of ideas for you.

    5. Buy a trampoline. It could mean more trips to the ER than you care to take, but you’ll definitely become the “koolaid mom” of your block.

    6. Do the local pool..have one out there? If not, consider buying one of those blow up ones if that’s alowable in your neighborhood.

    7. Grow stuff and have the kids help you w/ gardening…weeding, harvesting, “dead heading” flowers, etc. Get out books on the flowers or veggies you’re growing to learn more and see if one or more of your kids take to it.

    8. Do a local Farmer’s Market and let the kids pick out their veggie of the week. Then, let them take it home and learn different ways to prepare it.

    9. Sidewalk chalk and bubbles (may sound a bit “pre-schoolish” but at 31, I still find it rather relaxing and quite entertaining to blow bubbles. And, your kids can probably actually draw real stuff now w/ sidewalk chalk). 🙂

    10. Have service days where you take a morning or afternoon to serve someone in your church or neighborhood acc. to their needs. This would require some research ahead of time on your part and dependent on your kids’ abilities.

  2. When I read “serving in the church” I remembered a memorable day at ours. The youth kept kids for a date night to raise money for their mission trip. My husband and I helped out by being the go-to guys for problems. Watching the guys interact with the kids helped us both to see how amazing it is to have young men in the nursery…esp. for the boys there. They ran relay races (youth carried the youngest as they ran!), threw soft balls at targets, played hide and seek, and organized many other team games.

    When I have my girls there to help we always just sit and play with them…build stuff, roll trucks, play on the playground…but it never occurred to any of us to play like they did. The parents told us later that the kids raved about it and went to sleep fast!

    So, (after talking to the nursery supervisor) maybe you could let them get around the younger kids and play hard the way only boys can do. If you need some game ideas, click over and let me know. We’re organizing backyard Bible clubs right now and have a big list!

  3. Wow! Thanks girls!

    Bri, are you serious about the trails in Ohio comment? We could never hike all of the trails in a summer – or ten summers! 🙂 tons and tons and tons of parks with trails…you would love it my nature-loving-friend! Can’t wait to show you. We love metro parks.

    Keep it coming, gals. this is really helpful.

  4. My oldest has joined me at a pick-your-own farm down the road from us. Their crops change as summer passes going from strawberries to blueberries, to raspberries and blackberries–and that’s just berries. We go weekly and pick and eat them right in the fields. My youngest is 18 months and she’s ready to be a helper. I hope you have a farm nearby that offers something like that. They are my oldest’s favorite summer memories–mine too!

    If you’re good in the kitchen, you might even get your kids to help you make preserves. My mom made peach and strawberry preserves during the summer. When winter rolled around, we always had a jar of sunshine ready for homemade biscuits (if they made it that long!).

  5. Good read-aloud: Shiloh. Joel loves to playLegos while listening

    Swim lessons.

    Library reading club.

    ice Cream night.

    Nursing Home Ministry –make and take cards, play guitar, sit and play board games w/ old ppl

    Lemonade Stand one day a week or buy a snowball machine and sell them

    Adopt a soldier via They bed for letters from home, esp from kids.

    Dog park anywhere around?

    Love to hear more ideas. I feel nervous about how to spend a summer w/ “an only child” here.

  6. I meant they BEG for letters. I don’t think they’re so desperate they’ll lose their scruples in exchange for correspondence. Gosh, it’d help if I proofread my own stuff, wouldn’t it?

  7. Sponsor a child and do projects to help raise $$ for him/her.

    Don’t have too many ideas! My kids are so little and I just spent all summer playing outside with my sibs all summer, reading, and working in the garden! Not too exciting, but fun for me!

  8. Best read-alouds ever, Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, Tales of the Restoration (Karen Mains). Great stories for reading aloud especially, with symbollism your kids will grow into. I remember playing legos on a blanket outside while mom read on hot summer afternoons.

  9. This is really helpful. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
    Becky, I’ve never heard of the Tales… books. I’ll be sure to check into that. We’ve done the others that were suggested.

    Anybody know what super-beginner gardening might work? I have never tried to grow anything, and we (me and kiddos) would be learning together. Are tomatoes easy?

    Also, one of my friends from PA told me that Barnes and Nobles, and a few other stores have reading programs with nice incentive rewards. I’ll research it and post my findings. 🙂

  10. Bri, it is relatively flat in Ohio – your geography is just fine ;). We have lots of grass and woods with level trails.

  11. Southeastern OH is hilly 🙂
    You guys should check out the Hocking Hills. It would be a day trip though since it’s south of Columbus. But well worth the drive if you like hikes with a little more meat to them.

  12. Delurking again here – Our favorite read aloud is The Phantom Tollbooth. It is so very clever. My kids, 10,8, and 6 loved it!

  13. Megan, as you can see….I’m a newby!!! We love the parks and trails in Ohio. Can’t wait to explore outside of our 20 mile bubble (wadsworth/akron).

  14. Kim- I’d love to see your list for backyard Bible clubs. Some friends and I have done that, but our kids are at different stages now, and I’m thinking of some ways to reach out and include the now older girls (12) in the planning and prep.

    Laurie, Berean Christian store has a reading club where they read so many books (7 ), and get a $5 coupon for the store. It runs June 1 to July 31. Also, the Library has a reading club where the kids get prizes each week; there is no limit on the reading amount.

    Also, Re: tomato growing, my husband did use a fertilizer for his tomatoes in the pot. The growing season is such that you want to get them started soon, here. We haven’t started yet, though.

    Nice ideas, thanks!

  15. Daily family picnics would make for an enjoyable outing 🙂 You don’t even need to go far at all, and I know from family outings myself that you could make a thousand new memories 🙂
    ps; my name’s Heather, I’m 19..I’m new to wordpress and you seem like a real nice person. Just thought I’d leave a comment! I’m trying to make some “online blogging pals!” 🙂

  16. Oh, Tales of the Kingdom is a great book! You can get them read as audio books too at The Mains are so great! My mom has “Making Sunday Special” by Karen Mains.

    A good series for the boys would be “The Sugar Creek Gang.” Are you familiar with them? I LOVED them growing up.

  17. Definitely reading out loud. Sugar Creek Gang, for sure. My mom read All Of A Kind Family..and it remains one of my favorites to this day. The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler (SP) would also be good.

    As too gardening. Tomatoes are very easy. I grew up with a garden, but haven’t done too much since my kids are little (6, 4, and 2). I’ve got lots of flower and plants though.

  18. The Mueseum’s in Australia often have a kid section, the other parts were always good to look at to, but the Child area was more hands on so parents didn’t need to say ‘Don’t touch’!!

    We liked playing outside as kids, simple science experiements were fun, especially ones to do with water, magnifying glasses and learning about nature and light.

    From all the other ideas, it sounds like your kids will have a fantastic Summer 🙂

  19. Sharon Lovejoy (Isn’t that a great name!) has a couple of books for gardening with children. “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots”, and “Sunflower Houses” are two of my favorites. You might be able to find them at the library.

    She mentions several theme gardens in her books. One of the cleverest is the pizza garden. Grow the tomatoes and the herbs to go on a pizza! She grows them in a circle like a pizza but you could grow them in pots too. Herbs do very well in pots.

    Sunflowers, cosmos, bachelor buttons, and wildflowers are easy to start from seed.

    For veggies, since it’s almost summer, I’d recommend getting big plants to start with in a gallon pot if you can find it or a quart. Radishes are super easy to grow from seed and they are fast. Peas and carrots also are easy and fun to pick and eat. If you like leeks, they are easy too.

    If you have a good nursery in your town, usually a mom and pop place, the people there can give you a ton of good advice for what to grow in your area.

  20. Obviously, my experience lacks in this area, but gardening is something I definitely have memories of from childhood! Some of my memories are very positive. Some…well, my flowers didn’t do so well!

    I do, though, remember doing carrots at a fairly young age – probably around the age of your kids. They are fairly low maintenance and forgiving! Plus, I remember the patience lesson – we wanted to pull them up right away to see if there really was a carrot under there somewhere, but when we did that, we got very, very tiny carrots. When we waited, they were able to grow fairly close to full size.

  21. Try herbs. They grow fast and you can put a few kinds into one large terra cotta bowl. (Mark them so you remember.) Makes a great fragrant centerpiece for a patio table all summer long. Keep near your kitchen and you’ll have the best tasting food in just a few snips. We’re still waiting for sunflowers. Got little two inch sprouts!

  22. If you want your kids to love gardening…don’t take my mother’s approach. When we were grounded, we had to weed.

    I hate ANY form of gardening now. It’s punishment to even grow a chia pet.

  23. Herbs are really easy. Then you could make pesto and salsa with your herbs when they’re up. I second Sharon Lovejoy’s books. I’m reading her essays on gardening right now, and I’m sure her kids books are fabulous. And the All-of-a-kind Family are one of my childhood favorites!

  24. We (my sisters and I) loved ‘The box car children’ books when we were younger I think they would work for your kids ages. I really liked the tales books to.
    Have you guys been to the nature realm yet? It’s part of the metro parks but has a buliding with indoor stuff and they do some nature-ish programs throughout the year… of the metro parks has a huge hill that we use to roll down, then eat a picnic lunch or dinner. (mom might remember the name)
    There are some farms in the area that allow you to pick your own stuff… least I remember picking strawberries when we were younger, it was a lot of fun:o) I also know there is a farmers market on Saturday mornings in downtown akron, but there may be one closer to you guys…..also akron does have a dog park….sorry all the stuff I know about are is in akron
    As far as a trampoline goes, 2 of my friends had them growing up and we spent hours of fun on them….i don’t remember that many serious injuries, except for when the adults decided they wanted to ‘play’ on them without the kids:o)
    Gardening is a great idea, but I’m with you on not really knowing much. My grandpa is and I usually benefit from his hard work.
    I vote for the Pool!

  25. Do you know about the museum and science center devoted to teaching Creation Science and Intelligent Design models in contrast to Evolutionary models. The center features hands-on science activities as well as many fossils from Ohio and around the world. The website is

  26. Boy do we miss your family :(. Here are some ideas we have done:
    ~Make muffins early in the morn. & bring them to the park for a breakfast out with the kids.

    ~Kool-Aid & cookie stands on a hot day (when folks are coming home from work is good timing, or a hot Sat.)

    ~Make an obstacle course in the yard for all the kids around. We did activities like crawling under a bench, jumping over something, climbing etc. and record their times with a stopwatch.

    ~Do crazy tricks while running through the sprinkler.

    ~Collect bugs & pin them onto a board.

    ~Have scavenger hunt on a hiking trail or a city walk around the block.

    ~Wash bikes, toys or even the car!

    ~Paint picures of USA flag for a 4th of July decoration.

    ~Play hop scotch games on the driveway (some can get pretty competitive which your boys would like). We found some cool chalk games from the Library.

    ~Go to the Akron Fossils and Science Center Camp. Chad & Brooke would love to see friends while they’re at work :). Adults can volunteer too!

    ~Read or listen to classic childrens books on tape then watch the movies (Little Princess, Secret Garden, Black Stallion, Captains Courageous).

    Thanks to all of the gals who submitted such great ideas!

  27. Karla, I love these ideas. I will have to refer back to your comment often! Thanks for taking the time write them out.

    We miss you guys too! Maybe we can do a few of these ideas together. 🙂

  28. We lived in SE MI for a few years and I think the climate is about the same for gardening. We did our very first garden there and tried to grow tomatoes, carrots, and green beans. The carrots never did turn out and our tomatoes weren’t too hot either but the green beans were great! And the kids could even pick them. (Mine are much younger than yours). My advice: pick good seeds and that may make a difference. Go to a local nursery. We just picked the cheapest packets up somewhere like Wal-Mart i think….but hey, the green beans still turned out!

    The Metro park near us had a free spray park and we loved doing that on super hot days.

  29. We are reading through the Complete Chronicles of Narnia and the kids are enjoying it since it covers books that the movies haven’t yet adapted.

    As far as outdoor activities, my best recommendation is Casa de Stewart where frogs and tadpoles are in abundance at present. Come and enjoy. We’ll teach them how to do yardwork. With an acre and a half, there’s plenty for all.

    We tend to allow the kids in the kitchen more in the summer months since we have more time so I’ll be getting out the kiddy cookbooks we’ve collected. Having an onsite grandma doesn’t hurt.

    When you get back in town, we’ll set up a schedule: perhaps your kids at my place for yard time and cooking, and my kids at your place to enjoy the community pool. If we get lucky, we’ll get the guys to watch them and we’ll go off to the spa for a mani-pedi 🙂

  30. I loved the last day of school ,I’d make a special treat and welcome the kids home. They would find the tv covered and a sign on it saying off for the summer…. Then all of us( Mom and Dad too) put together a reading goal , how many books or titles we wanted to read. We’d go weekly to the library, also to the beach or what ever is in your local area. We became tourists in our own area.The summer held no agenda just fun.

  31. I love your blog! This computer stuff is new to me-this is my first try at finding your very special site. Thank you for alll your efforts to be a blessing to others. I really appreciate what you wrote about Jim. God blessyou today and every day!!

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