50 activities to keep children engaged this summer
Health reports reveal physical activity inspires confidence, lessens worry, and drives away depression—all key elements as families come out of social isolation and states begin phased reopenings. Mental stimulation is just as important. So, to help find a balance, Stacker searched kids’ creative, educational, craft, game, and workshop sources to compile a list of 50 activities to help keep children engaged this summer, with everything from challenging neighbors to sidewalk chalk games to corresponding with pen pals from the other side of the globe.
For kids who love the outdoors, planting a garden in the day or stargazing at night provides agriculture and astronomy lessons while engaging them in the morning and at night. Additional outdoor activities such as building a backyard obstacle course and having a neighborhood treasure hunt are also perfect for summertime fun.
Although many of the activities on the list are geared toward kids, the entire family can find fun in many of them. Preserve family memories by making a scrapbook, complete with old photos and a family tree. Create brand new memories with a backyard campout—complete with s’mores and ghost stories—all with the comfort of a toilet just a few short steps away.
For adolescents who don’t like to get too much sun, indoor activities like creating a website or designing a board game inspire creativity without leaving the house. Parents of gamers can even inject learning into video game time, with a course on architectural history taught through Minecraft.
Kids of all ages can beat the heat with a water balloon fight or pass the time on a rainy day by learning more about the weather. Get down and dirty by making slime or play dough, get the blood flowing by training for a family 5k, or create a backyard obstacle course.
There’s more out there than you know. Keep reading to find 50 fun-filled activities to keep children engaged this summer.
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Make a fort
With dozens of different indoor fort designs, kids can spend hours building the perfect hideaway. Household items such as sheets, blankets, pillows, clothespins, and books can quickly turn the underneath of a table into a magical place, or a cardboard box and beach balls can magically convert into an Aladdin hideaway. Add a string of low-cost, battery-operated lights to the fort supplies to give it a glow, and making a fort will be as much fun as the time spent in it.
Design a board game
Playing games is fun, but making a personalized board game is more impressive. After brainstorming a game theme and set of rules, make a cardboard playing board and add player pieces, dice, and content cards. The kids will be competing in a game born from their creativity. For only $5, Teachers Pay Teachers offers a digital download to help kids create a board game, promising to make a stress-free project.
Serve up some slime
All the rage, slime can be made in minutes with low-cost, simple ingredients—borax detergent, white glue, and water—to create an immediate slimy blob that engages kids for hours. Food coloring, Styrofoam balls, tiny beads, glitter, and scents add more sensory engagement to the slime easily stored in zip-close plastic bags or airtight plastic containers. Add some shaving cream to the ingredients, and what was once slimy is even more fun fluffier.
Zoom in on scavenger hunts
Virtual scavenger hunts have kids running around the house in minutes, trying to return to the Zoom screen with coveted household items in hand. Additional ideas for the cost-free activity, available with a complimentary 40-minute Zoom call, are also available for $1 at Teachers Pay Teachers; however, creating a personalized scavenger hunt is even more exciting. Besides fun, age-appropriate scavenger hunts educate kids using various learning themes, including finding objects associated with numbers and colors.
Create a website
Lifewire breaks down how kids can create their own websites in eight steps. Together, parents and children can create a web design and decorate the site, which can feature blog content and calendars. With several cost-free website hosts available, the only thing required to begin building their online home is Wi-Fi and an electronic device.
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Get grounded with sidewalk chalk games
Active For Life promises one piece of chalk can create eight engaging side games to keep kids moving for hours. Aside from playing traditional sidewalk hopscotch, alphabet hop, and four square, kids of all ages can also create giant, winding mazes to walk on and explore. To add even more fun to sidewalk chalk games, make homemade chalk with some of the simplest household ingredients, assuring you are never short on supplies for the next round of matches.
Create cardboard toys
A sheet of cardboard, a pair of scissors, duct tape, and crayons or paint are all kids need to make homemade toys. While some household items help turn a big cardboard box into a toy stove or dollhouse, smaller toys, including stuffed animal furniture and rocket ships, are easy to make. Kids can even create a mini foosball table from a cardboard shoebox, ping pong balls, clothespins, and tiny wooden pegs.
Start a virtual book club
Aside from joining a reading group with Virtual Book Club for Kids, middle-schoolers can spearhead their own online gathering with School Library Journal. Scholastic’s 2020 Summer Read-a-Palooza, which began in May and ends in September, gives kids dozens of book genres and themes to choose from when it comes time to picking their first book club choice.
Become a pen pal
Kids, with parental supervision, can have BFFs on the other side of the globe through PenPal World. Up to 2,300,000 members, including adolescents and young adults, can connect to different continents with a free, limited account. While the service Students of the World also offers online pen pal programs, blogs and chats, Global Penfriends goes old school with snail mail options.
Plant a garden
Planting a garden is an inexpensive, simple, and educational activity for kids of all ages. KidsGardening offers free horticulture activities via newsletters and great planting ideas, but all kids need to begin a garden are some seeds. Eco-friendly company Eartheasy suggests tips on kid-friendly gardening, informing what seeds and methods to use. And for families without a yard, kids can grow carrots, lettuce, and tomatoes on decks to add to some hearty summer salads.
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