Don’t Be Bored This Summer

From low-tech indoor and outdoor throwbacks to imaginative play, staying at home offers endless entertainment

Four young children, holding onto the flagpole chalked on their driveway. We are more powerful together.
Encourage youngsters to express their creativity and participate with them. The Hakes’ two sets of twins have fun with chalk art, holding onto the flagpole sketched in their driveway. Photo by Ryan Hakes

By Alyssa McDougle

Summer is almost here. While we all feel a yearning for summer fun, the atypical times we live in have disrupted many traditional summer activities.

Outdoor concerts, summer camps, pool parties, and other large summertime activities pose challenges due to social distancing recommendations that may or may not remain in place during the break.

This may be especially hard for children. Expectations for the summer break they have anticipated all school year must be adjusted, given the new constraints.

To help alleviate summer blues, consider the following activities to keep families connected and entertained.

Express Yourself in Chalk

Neighborhoods have seen an uptick in the amount of chalk art popping up around them—many offering inspirational quotes and words of encouragement.

To make artistic adventures more fun, neighborhoods can plan competitions and social distance-friendly walks through the neighborhood to vote for their favorites.

Family members in other states, co-workers, or friends who live far away can join in on the fun by taking photos of their chalk art and emailing their creations for a virtual competition.

Play Board and Card Games

Group of young children playing a boardgame.
Board games help preschoolers learn to count while having fun.

In our technologically advanced times, non-tech games have fallen by the wayside in many households. This can be the perfect time to resurrect board and card games. Options are available for all ages.

For little ones, explore games like Go Fish, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Guess Who, and checkers. Older children— and parents—will love more advanced games such as Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, Scrabble, and hearts. Be aware of possible choking hazards with game pieces.

For more ideas, Better Homes and Gardens compiled a list of the best board games of all time. Today’s Parent offers suggestions for kid-friendly card games.

Assemble a Puzzle

Children and adults can lose track of time engrossed in putting together a puzzle.

The activity engages the brain for young and old alike. Studies have shown puzzles boost cognitive and emotional skills vital to early childhood development in preschoolers.

There are many great places to find puzzles for the family. If you are looking for a customized puzzle, Create Jigsaw is an option. You can make a puzzle out of a family photo or any shot you like. Prices start at $11.99. Cost depends on size and shape.

Build a Fort

Any child or adult can enjoy this classic activity. Old boxes, blankets, and pillows can become a fortress for fun. Forts can become faraway castles or a cozy reading nook. The possibilities are endless.

With more time at home this summer, you can make your forts more intricate than ever. For ideas, Red Tricycle has created a list of some of the best ideas for indoor forts.

Create a Family Cookbook

Some families pass down recipes from generation to generation, while others are starting new traditions and discovering favorite family recipes in the present day.

Wherever your family falls on the spectrum, this summer is the perfect time to create, compile, or update a family cookbook. This can be especially rewarding for parents and grandparents who want to teach children cooking skills.

You can create your cookbook through scrapbooking or an online service. One online resource is Heritage Binding. Prices range from $6.56 a book to $37.74, depending on quantity and binding.

Make Face Masks

Like creating cookbooks, a great way for adults to bond with the children in their lives and teach them a new skill is to sew cloth masks together.

For those with access to a sewing machine, check out links from the New York Times, and Good Housekeeping. For families with younger children or without a sewing machine, Good Housekeeping offers instructions for a no-sew face mask.

Engage in Playground Games

After months away from in-person classrooms and with many public playgrounds off-limits, children need alternatives for their pent-up energy.

Encourage outdoor play. Options include solitary and group activities: jump rope, hopscotch, jacks, kickball, hide and seek, marbles, bubbles, hula hoop, four square, scavenger hunts, and Simon Says. For more ideas, see Family Fun Twin Cities.

Go Birding in Your Backyard

With many public spaces off-limits in recent months, people have been spending more time in their backyards than ever before. Common animals such as birds and squirrels have become entertainment.

For those who want to make this a hobby, the Audubon Society can help you identify parts of nature you never knew were there. There is information on how to identify birds for beginners, step-by-step guides on how to make homemade feeders, and activities to help make birding an activity for the whole family.

Set Up Movie Nights

Theaters have been off-limits lately, but you can still go to the movies. A great way to watch movies while keeping social distance is to have a drive-in movie night at home.

A friend with a front lawn or large driveway can set up a projector. While the host views the movie from their window, friends stay in their cars and enjoy each other’s company at a distance.

Vacation at Home

Quite a few vacations have been canceled due to COVID-19. While it is never fun to miss out on a trip, with a little creativity, a vacation can take place right at home.

Making Mickey Mouse pancakes on a griddle can give kids a taste of Disneyland. An affordable above-ground pool can become a “beach trip.” Cooking exotic food can take you to a faraway destination.

The trip may be postponed, but the vacation state of mind doesn’t have to be.

Go to Summer Camp at Home

Like vacations, some summer camps have been canceled—but the activities enjoyed at camp can be created at home.

Children and parents can replicate their own “away” summer camp with puppet shows, watercolors, fireside stories, and marshmallow roasts.

Complete the adventure by setting up a tent in your backyard and camping under the stars.