I have a love/hate relationship with summer.
Without any direction, my kids have one thought: XBox. It takes a ton of energy to continually point them to worthwhile summer activities when they aren’t at work or sports practices (even when I take away the XBox).
I love spending time with my children during the summer,
…but my professional goals get chucked out the window when they’re home.
I avoid frustration by realizing that my kids won’t be here forever. This helps me realize again that I want to spend every minute possible doing summer activities with them. They’re already past the “dad’s cool” age (I’m not sure we spent much time in that stage….sigh), so I’ve decided that educational fun is best. Why not have a good time and learn something at the same time?
I can’t believe that in 14 months I’m going to lose them to college. After that, who knows where the wind will take them?
My Experience Is Your Gain
If you have kids under age 10 and wonder how you’ll keep the family entertained all summer, here’s a well-used list of educational activities that I can personally endorse…because we did them all.
This week we’ll tackle Early Elementary years (I’ve blocked out everything before that). Next week we’ll hurdle Late Elementary, then we’ll move into the Middle and High School years. I’ve noted whether each educational activity is an indoor game or outdoor game to help you find what you’re looking for.
1) Grocery Store – (indoor games) I can’t keep up the “keep your hands off that”, “no, we can’t get it,” “Put that back!” game for very long. You can call this game “self preservation.”
First, clip coupons. Give them the scissors to cut out the ones that you want. Have them help you organize them in a box. Then, make the list together.
At the store, make it a scavenger hunt. As you approach aisles with coupon items, tell them that you’re getting close to treasure. It’s not only one of our favorite educational summer activities, but a good one for all year round.
Why I Like It: A trip that can be a drudge becomes fun for the kids and bearable for you. Plus, I actually begin seriously looking for grocery deals that might become more “treasure.”
2) Count Change – (indoor games) Each day we’d come home and empty pockets into a jar in front of the piggy bank sitting on top of a piece of paper. Here’s what we’d do then:
- First, talk about the different denominations. It’s a mystery to a 5 year old why a dime is worth double the value of a nickel when it’s half as small. Mind bender.
- Second, track the years of the coins. For fun one day we started looking at the years on the coins. With newer quarters we started collecting states.
- Finally, we’d track the amount of money that went into the piggy bank on paper. Initially they’d watch me do the math. Later, as they improved, they’d do some or all of the math.
Why I Like It: Besides being a coin geek, my kids realized that change is valuable and they learned some simple math skills. They’re still great at math!
3) Insurance Video – (indoor games) Your homeowners’ insurance policy (hopefully) allows you replacement value of all the items inside (with the exception of high-dollar assets, which should be separately insured). The problem? You have to remember what you owned.
So, I pretended we were making a movie. We dressed in costumes (by we, I mean “they”…I’m a geeky dad, but the costume thing is beyond me). We created some silly plot line where they had to open drawers as I peered inside. That took almost three days to make and we had a blast.
Why I Like It: You’re completing a task hardly anyone accomplishes and entertaining the kids at the same time. You’re a ninja.
4) Board Games – (indoor games) You may not know what a game geek I am. I started playing board games in 8th grade when my family got rid of the television (my grades went through the roof AND we had family game nights all the time…and still do).
Monopoly Jr. is an awesome game to teach young kids about money. My kids had their breakthrough (finally understanding the difference between a bill with a $1 on it and another with a $5 on it) while making change in this game. Different than Monopoly (which I can’t stand), the game is short and has a theme more fitting young kids: you’re buying rides at an amusement park.
Why I Like It: The game is widely available AND fun for everyone involved…even dad. (IF you want to purchase the game AND help support the blog, you can use this Amazon link to make your purchase. Thanks!)
5) Charity Drive – (Indoor games / Outdoor games)What’s more fun than cleaning the garage? Cleaning the garage with your kids and giving stuff to charity. This one is last because it’s a little like herding goldfish….but we got it done. Load up unwanted items and head to your favorite charitable institution.
Once I explained what we were doing, my kids decided to donate some toys they didn’t use anymore.
Why I Like It: It’s important for me to teach my kids that we live in a community and not everyone is as fortunate as our family. I also appreciate the tax deduction!
What are your favorite summer activities with children? Or do you remember a favorite from when you were a child? Share in the comments!