32 Ways to Keep Kids Entertained All Summer Long
Make "I'm bored" a thing of the past.
Summertime for kids is one of the most magical, memorable times of their lives. With so much freedom, they finally have the time to explore, run wild and just be kids. But with so much free time, it's easy for kiddos to revert to a summer of TV and video games. Keep them off the couch and make the most of their break with these fun and totally entertaining ideas.
1: Visit a national park and join a Junior Ranger program.
2: Paint a chalkboard wall or let your driveway be the canvas.
3: Sign them up for music lessons.
4: Make sun tea. Find easy directions here.
5: Have a water balloon fight. Mix in non-toxic paint for extra fun!
6: Conduct a science experiment.
7: Explore a nearby cave. But watch out for bats!
8: Build a treehouse together. Find awesome inspiration here.
9: Make your own tasty ice cream sandwiches. Try this recipe.
10: Join in on your local library's summer reading challenge.
11: Go camping in the backyard. (And you don't have to rough it!)
12: Make homemade popsicles with candy inside. Try this recipe.
13: Create a water park at home. Hose + Sprinklers + Tarp = 1 Day of Fun.
14: Encourage them to write a book and read it to the family.
15: Set up a lemonade stand. Find simple instructions here.
16: Go on a nature walk and let them take pictures as you go.
17: Make a fairy garden. Find adorable inspiration here.
18: Put together a treasure hunt using funny riddles as clues.
19: Recreate some favorite family photos. You'll love this project, too!
20: Grow a garden together. Kids will adore this pizza garden.
21: Help them write and perform their very own play (with costumes!).
22: Let them plan the dinner menu. Spaghetti with syrup? Let's do it!
23: Build a blanket fort.
24: Go on a picnic. Make it easy with these tips.
25: Get a pet. Summer is the perfect time to train a new puppy or kitten!
26: Have a tea party. We recommend these sweet petit fours.
27: Find a pen pal and teach them the art of hand-written letters.
28: Set up a backyard obstacle course.
29: Throw a tie-dying party and invite the neighborhood kids.
30: Collect summer flowers, then make these awesome lollipops.
31: Go to a dollar movie to cool off on a scorching day.
32: Have a yard sale and let them donate what doesn't sell.
Craft-Proof Your Tabletop
If your table runners are too nice for sticky fingers, then give little ones the materials to make their own. First, protect your tabletop with white butcher paper; then top with a roll of 12" wide brown Kraft paper. Provide kids with crayons, and let them draw while they snack. When the party is over, the runner can be cut into pieces and framed as keepsakes or favors for guests.
Let Them Make Caterpillar Kebabs
Instead of fussing over kiddie food before the party, take the pressure off by letting the littles ones make their own culinary creations. With a little adult help, they'll love making, then eating, these caterpillar kebabs. All you’ll need are kid-friendly plastic or wooden skewers (use sandpaper to smooth the sharp ends), grapes, marshmallow fluff and mini chocolate chips. Slide grapes onto the skewer to create the caterpillar's boby, then add eyes with a dab of marshmallow fluff and mini chocolate chips.
Give the kids a lesson in geography with a world map tablecloth. Pick up a paper world map slightly wider than your table, allowing it to fall a maximum of 6 inches over on all sides. Next, supply the kids with washable markers or crayons and let them mark each place they’ve been.
Craft a Colorful Game
Put an ice cream twist on the classic game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. To create it, draw a large ice cream cone on white butcher paper. Outline the edges with paint pens, then fill in the design with acrylic paint and add a few colorful sprinkles as a fun touch. Next, make cherries by cutting red construction paper into 6" circles and adding double-sided tape to the backs. Tape the craft paper to the wall, blindfold to the first willing participant and let them have at it!
Snap Lots of Selfies
Kids love hamming it up for the camera and looking at photos of themselves so be sure to take lots of pics of the kids interacting with a digital camera or your phone. Create a digital slideshow and email a link out to the guests so everyone can enjoy clicking through fun photos of the party.
Turn any table at your party into a mess-proof art station. To do this, you’ll need a plastic poncho for each child, a roll of Kraft paper, mini art canvases, acrylic paint, plastic cups filled with water and small paint brushes. Have a hair dryer handy to speed up the canvases' drying time so each child can take their masterpiece home as a party favor.
Give kids a healthy, dairy-free alternative to ice cream by letting them serve themselves fruit in a waffle cone. For a no-mess approach, protect your table with paper or a disposable tablecloth, then set the waffle cones into plastic ice cream cone stands. Let kids fill their cones with their favorite fruits, then enjoy their creations at the table.
Party Favor Production
Keep kids engaged toward the end of the party by letting them make popcorn favor bags for guests. To create these, you’ll need brown paper bags, kid’s scissors, a hole punch, colorful string and markers. Set up a tub of popcorn at one end of the kitchen counter or dining table to create an assembly line. Assign each child a specific task like adding the popcorn, cutting and attaching the string, punching holes in tags, writing names or handing the bags out to guests.
Most kids are picky eaters, so it’s often easier to present their favorite foods in an original way than it is to encourage them to try a new food at a party. Put a clever twist on the classic meat and cheese tray by creating sandwich kebabs with turkey or ham, cherry tomatoes, basil, cheese and white bread. Be sure to smooth the ends of the skewers to eliminate sharp points.
Let little ones help finish off your soiree’s tablescape by turning carnations and cherries into floral ice cream sundaes. To do this, have them place pre-cut carnations in two different colors (pink and white work best) into sundae glasses. Add the pink carnations first to serve as the ice cream then top with 2 or 3 white carnations to resemble whipped cream. After the kids add cherries to the top of their creations, parents should add water before placing the centerpieces on the table.
Playing Card Place Holders
Encourage little ones to interact with one another with playing card place holders. First, pick up a kid’s card game and read the instructions before the soiree. Next, place a card on each child’s napkin to assign them a character, number, letter or activity.
Less-Mess Ice Cream Scoops
Present dessert in a new way by serving single ice cream scoops in cupcake liners. You’ll need a variety of ice cream flavors, an ice cream scoop, small bowls and cupcake liners in different colors. Place the liners inside the bowls; then add a single scoop of ice cream to each one. Best of all: you can prescoop the ice cream then return the bowls to the freezer to save time.