Top 20 Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer

Photo by Luke Porter on Unsplash.

Summer gives parents a chance to do more things with their kids after work or on weekends.  Many parents take time off and travel, but many will opt for a “staycation” because of COVID.

What To Do With The Kids knows first-hand that kids will only be kids for a short time (although it does feel like an eternity sometimes), so this is a great opportunity to spend time with them and hopefully create some happy memories for your whole family.

Many of these activities do not require a lot of planning and — most importantly — are low cost.

  1. Go to the beach

It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it won’t be if you keep it simple. A towel, a few beach toys and lots of sunscreen is all you really need. You can also bring folding chairs, a sun umbrella, lunch or snacks along with a few cold drinks. If you don’t have a cooler, these can easily fit inside a couple of cloth bags with an ice pack. 

Keep in mind that even if there are lifeguards, you need to stay very close to your kids. The younger they are, the closer you should be! 

Sunscreen is very important. Buy the highest UV protection you can, and don’t be afraid to pay a few dollars more for the good stuff.  Avoid the dollar store stuff. 

  1. Mini golf

As far as we are concerned, mini-golf should be an Olympic event. It’s a great activity that anyone can participate in.  In fact, the worse you are, the more fun it is. We like playing in the early evening when it starts getting dark and a little cooler. 

Try local miniature golf course, Perry Falls Mini Golf, located at 24750 Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg.

  1. Bowling

Bowling is another “potential” Olympic event that anyone can join in on. Most bowling alleys have lanes with bumpers that block the gutters, so the kids are almost guaranteed to hit some pins. 

It’s also a great place to be on a really hot day when all you want is to hang out in the AC.

Try Toledo’s Bowlero Lanes Fun Center Revel and Roll, located at 4398 Monroe St.

  1. Play catch

Movies love to portray it as the only activity Dad never did with the hero of the story, but it doesn’t have to be forced or organized; it can be spontaneous. Most people think that playing catch involves a baseball glove and a ball, but there are a lot more items you can use.  

Try a football, beach ball, tennis ball or the classic Frisbee. There are also variations you can use, like drawing a few circles on the ground in chalk and trying to bounce the ball inside it when sending it to the other person. 

  1. Explore your city

A lot of people grow up in a city but never take in the sights, so why not take the kids and explore? Most downtowns have a lot of old stores with innumerable unique finds, many of them with interesting history behind them. 

Explore different parks, or check online for festivals and events. Become a tourist in your own town by taking a ride on a tour bus. You may just discover things about where you live that you never knew.

A few local favorite activities to be a tourist in Toledo: The Old West End Festival, visit the National Museum of the Great Lakes, or take a stroll along the downtown Toledo riverfront. 

  1. Fishing

Old fishing rods, hooks and worms are all you need to spend time by the water. You can save a pretty penny by purchasing your equipment at garage sales, where there’s a good chance you’ll find everything you need for a few dollars. 

You might also need a fishing license in your area, so do a little research. Since you’re near water, you need to stay very close to the kids, and it’s a good idea for the little ones to wear a life jacket. You will also need to put the worm on the hook for them as well (be forewarned).

Use a lot of sunscreen, give them a hat, pack a snack and you’re ready to go. Find out where the best fishing spots are for kids, but be prepared to cut it short. Some kids might not find it exciting, so don’t force them to stay. Plan on going for a short time and then make it longer the next time. 

While you’re waiting for the fish to nibble, tell them about how people who fish like to make up stories about “the big one that got away,” then come up with your own. 

Catch and release is great, but if you happen to catch something big and you know how to properly prepare and cook it, bring it home as a special treat.

  1. Biking

Biking is a great activity for getting outside, exercising and exploring new areas, but you need to teach your kids the rules of the road or don’t take them out! Teach them hand signals and what to do at a stop sign, for example.

Look online for local bike paths, pack a picnic or snack, put on some sunscreen and make sure those helmets are on right. Start with short trips, then make them longer as the kids get older.  Remember, they may have no problem biking to the destination, but the trick is to know when it’s time to bike back. 

  1. Swimming

Learning to swim is something that every parent should have their kids do at an early age. It’s a skill they will never forget, and it may just save their lives. 

The younger they are, the closer you must be to them. This must also be the rule at the beach, a public pool or even in a small wading pool in your backyard. Never leave them alone, and don’t assume someone will watch them for you. 

If you can, bring plastic balls or a Frisbee to play with in the water since kids love to make diving catches. Pool noodles, boogie boards and beach balls are great fun but again, don’t forget to bring the sunscreen.

  1. Hiking

Hiking is another great activity that should be short the first time out and gradually increased as they start to enjoy it more. Start with simple and easy trails and know when to start heading back. You don’t want to have to carry them.

Wear appropriate shoes and clothing, bug spray and sunscreen and even pack a lunch or snack. Water is very important if you plan on being out most of the day, and you should make sure you know where you are going before you leave. You don’t want to require a search party rescue for this adventure.

Photo by Samuel Chan on Unsplash.
  1. Backyard party

Why not host a party just for the heck of it? Make up any reason, such as celebrating International Pickle Day or just a good old fashioned summer barbecue. Grill hotdogs and burgers, make some potato salad, coleslaw and have a few games on hand. 

It doesn’t have to be fancy or really organized. It’s just a chance to get a bunch of people together to just hang out.

  1. Backyard camping

Before you invest thousands of dollars in tents, stoves, sleeping bags and bear repellent, why not try camping in the backyard with the kids? 

You don’t even need a real tent. Have the kids make one out of a tarp or old blankets. If they don’t like it, they can just come in. Just make sure you’re with them all night just to keep them safe and from getting into trouble. 

If they like it, they may want to do some real camping later, and then you can spend thousands of dollars on everything you need!

  1. Fly a kite

If you can find an open space free of power lines and gopher holes, you can fly a kite. 

Start with the inexpensive ones found at the department store and try it out. If the kids like it, you may want to invest in a really nice kite and watch them perform acrobatics in the sky.

  1. Campfire

Unfortunately, not every town or city allows campfires, especially open ones that are basically a hole in the ground surrounded by rocks.  If your city does allow them, invest in a metal, enclosed one. These are designed to keep the fire from getting out of control, and the doors help keep the kids from falling into the flames. The kids must be supervised around the fire at all times!

Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and simply enjoy the view. Just remember to keep a bucket of water and some sand handy, and make sure the entire fire is out before you go to bed. 

  1. Sidewalk/driveway chalk drawing

Chalk comes in a lot of colors and is rather inexpensive, but the important thing to keep in mind is where the kids draw. It has to be a safe area that is free of any traffic since the little ones will be practically lying down as they create their masterpieces. 

If you’re in a school playground or empty parking lot, you can also draw a race track that the kids can go through on their bikes, skateboard or roller skates. 

Add a little color to your area and don’t be afraid to get down with them and let your inner Picasso come out.

  1. Outdoor movie

Watching a movie outdoors and under the stars is a great way to spend an evening. 

Projectors can be borrowed from schools, local libraries, or offices, and a large white bed sheet makes for a great screen. Hook the projector up to your laptop and set up a few speakers.  Make some popcorn, bring out the patio chairs and enjoy.

  1. Container planting

If you’re a gardener, you already know how much fun it can be. Some of us, however, need a less intimidating project, and that’s why container plants are great. 

Check out local garage sales for great deals on different size planters. They may need a coat of paint, but as long as they’re not broken, they’ll work fine. 

Buy a bag of soil and select a few flowers and vegetables to grow. Check online or at your local garden center to see what plants grow well in containers in your area. Find a good spot for the containers, but if you need to, they can be easily moved somewhere else. 

Have the kids water it regularly and maybe record how it’s growing in a diary. Fruit and vegetable plants are an amazing choice because, at the end of the growing season, the kids can actually eat what they’ve grown.

  1. Picnic

A picnic is a rather simple way to have lunch, but it can be more than just a sandwich in a brown bag. 

Along with sandwiches, you can have salads, a veggie platter, assorted fruits and all types of drinks. Place the food in a cooler with an ice pack, pack some plates, utensils and cups, bring a blanket to lie on and you’re set. You can also bring a plastic table cover to use if you find a picnic table. 

The secret is to find someplace that has a soft patch of ground that you can enjoy such as a park, the beach or along a trail. Make sure, however, to take all your garbage home and don’t leave any food for the animals.

  1. Photo essay

A photo essay is just a fancy way to get kids to take photos with their phones. In the old days, we used something called a camera, but smartphones seem to work just fine. 

Have the kids document an outing such as a day at the beach or to the zoo. Ask them to take photos or video of your arrival and the different things they see. 

When they arrive home, they can upload the photos to their computer and create a slideshow.  The older kids may be able to incorporate video and background music as well. 

Once done, save a copy in a safe place and in a few years, you can have a family movie night and remind them of how much fun they had that day. 

  1. Water slide

On a hot day, there’s nothing like gliding across your lawn on your own personal water slide. 

Sheets of plastic are available at your local hardware store and try to find a safe place to lay it down, preferably with a bit of a slope and no rocks.  You’ll need to have a garden hose nearby that can reach the top of the slide.

If you can find a slope, place the water hose at the top and let the water trickle down so you have a slow but steady flow. You’ll need to adjust accordingly. Keep in mind that you will end up with a puddle at the end of the slide so be careful where you place it.

Lather them up with sunscreen and remind them how to slide, making sure there is plenty of room for them to stop at the end.

  1. Hanging out

Why not play a board game outside, read a book together or do a craft project together? 

The young ones might get bored, but the older ones may just enjoy the opportunity to talk with you in a casual way.   

Make it spontaneous. Find a shady spot, bring out some toys or games and spend some time together while the weather is nice. It can result in the type of memories you want your kids to have.

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