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7 Ideas for School-Age Summer Fun

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson

Family Activities & Crafts

Here are simple, low-cost or no-cost things your children can do over the summer. These activities have universal appeal and will be fun for kids from preschool through the elementary school years. Be sure to try these early in the summer, since most of them provide enjoyment over and over.

Play hide and seek using a stuffed toy as the hidden object.   Hide and seek is good fun but if you’re afraid your kids will get into places you’d rather they not go, have them hide a stuffed toy instead of themselves. Follow the same rules as in real hide-and-seek, with the seekers hiding their eyes or leaving the room while the hider places the toy. You can set up ground rules (confined to this room only, not hidden inside something, etc.) to suit the ages of your children.

Make play dough.  Here’s an easy stove-top recipe for adults to cook up for their kids. I like this better than the uncooked kind of homemade clay.

Mix 1 cup of flour, ½ cup of salt, 2 Tablespoons of cream of tartar (find this in the spice aisle of any grocery) in a medium saucepan. Then add in 1 cup of water with maybe some food coloring added in (quite a bit of food coloring – it takes a lot to color the dough).

Cook this over medium heat on the stove for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring until it comes together into a globby mess. Turn it out and knead it a little bit.

Let it cool off before giving it to the kids (it will be hot!). Let them model things with it or roll it out and cut it with cookie cutters.

Wrap it up in a baggie to keep it for a long time.

Make a hideout using a table and blankets.  This is always fun. Drape blankets or sheets over a table or between dining chairs and let your kids crawl under to hang out, read, eat a snack or play house. A flashlight and some cushions make the hideout more homey. You may need to weight the blankets down with books to keep them from sliding off the tabletop.

Also… do position this out of the way. It’s likely to stay up a long time.

Write a book.  Fold sheets of copy paper to make a book and staple them together along the folded edge or stitch down the fold to make a book with a needle and doubled thread.

Give kids some ideas of what to write about. Good topics are the story of your life, how you got your pet and the adventures of your favorite stuffed animal.

Then turn your kids free to create a book. Pictures, words, or words and pictures together all work. All you need are crayons or markers and a pencil.

Make and fly paper airplanes.  Check out a simple paper airplane book from the library or get directions online (if you’ve forgotten how to fold an airplane or if you want to try different designs, here is a great site:

Enjoy flying them, seeing who can hit the ceiling with his airplane, who can fly an airplane the farthest, and who can get her plane to fly in a swooping path.

Make a ramp and race cars (or balls or canned goods or anything else that rolls).  A board (from a shelf?) and anything that will roll make good fun in racing two items or in seeing how far they go.

Prop one end of the board on a chair seat or a stack of books and roll down it whatever is handy. This works best on carpeting, to keep the board from slipping forward. You might need to set up cushions a distance away for things to roll up against, so you don’t have to chase them all over the house.

Rearrange a room.  Older kids can do this themselves, with some help with the large and heavy furniture. The room has to be clean first, so that might be an afternoon all in itself.

Then plot out where the bed could go – measure things and make a sketch – and move stuff around. You are guaranteed that the room will be played in more following the rearrangement.


Have a fun summer!

© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson.  All rights reserved.

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Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson

Dr. Patricia Anderson is a nationally acclaimed educational psychologist and the author of “Parenting: A Field Guide.” Dr. Anderson is on the Early Childhood faculty at Walden University and she is a Contributing Editor for Advantage4Parents.