Creative ideas to keep the kids busy this summer

Ideas for crafts, virtual activities, and family projects to do together.

Somehow, just like that, summer is upon us. With social distancing guidelines still in effect, children’s activities and summer camps have been cancelled across the country. If you’re wondering how to keep your kids busy this summer, this roundup of tips, activities and projects might help!

Child development and sleep expert at Batelle, Megan Elizabeth Sedlacek, who goes by Miss Megan, offers three tips for keeping your children engaged and content – and  keeping yourself from pulling your hair out.

 

Make a plan

 

“As much as I dislike rigid schedules – as it doesn’t leave much room for spontaneity, flexibility and resiliency – predictability does create a sense of security for kids. Moreover, during times of uncertainty as we have in lockdown, routines can really be grounding,” she says. 

 

“Take time to map out your summer with your children. This will allow you to proactively create a good balance and get the benefit of teaching your kids about time management and planning as well, which they can participate in as early as three years old. Once lockdown lifts, you can add back more fluidity.”

 

Here is what Miss Megan suggests putting in your summer schedule: 

 

  • Healthy habits – the non-negotiables like bathing, teeth brushing, mealtimes, sleep and homeschooling or remote learning.
  • Outdoor time for activities that accommodate physical distancing – some of Miss Megan’s favourite outdoor activities for her kids are riding scooters, blowing bubbles, drawing with chalk, and playing on a trampoline.
  • Quality time – this is where you schedule blocks of time to spend with each child and your partner (if applicable). “It may be as short as 15 minutes for children and 30 minutes for your partner, or more if you can spare. Remember it’s quality, not quantity, that counts,” says Miss Megan – so be present with them and put away the phones.
  • Plug and play activities – the remaining time in your schedule can be used for a variety of activities to keep your children engaged.

 

What activities can we do?

 

There are tons of options for activities to do with your kids – plus things they can do on their own, depending on how old they are. 

 

How much screen time you allow in your home is up to you, but if you’d like some ideas for tech-focused activities, here are a few suggestions from Miss Megan.

  • Virtual field trips on Google Earth 
  • Educational channels on YouTube such as How It’s Made or National Geographic
  • Remote experiences by AirBnb
  • Online classes – Miss Megan says she’s been sharing her Masterclass subscription with her children, so that may be an option for your middle- and high-school-aged kids.

Miss Megan points out that technology can be a blessing and a curse and suggests monitoring your kids to see if they get overstimulated by screen time. If so, she suggests stopping tech usage two hours before naptime or bedtime.
 

For even more ideas, check out these tips from parents and bloggers:

  • Create a backyard dig site: “You can fill it with mini construction vehicles or toy dinosaur bones. All you need to do is dig a shallow hole in your backyard and surround it with logs of wood or large rocks. You can then fill it with aquarium gravel and add the toys. It can help provide your kids with hours of fun and it’s excellent for their sensory development!” – Olga Zakharchuk, founder and CEO of Baby Schooling
  • Make math fun: “For my five-year-old, our latest project has been LEGO math. We print off single digit addition and subtraction math problems. He then groups together LEGO blocks to complete the problem.” – Meghan Roy, Happy Mom Projects
  • Do a cooking challenge: “Set it up just like the Food Network show, Chopped, where you have a basket of mystery ingredients. Kids use their creativity to incorporate all the ingredients together into a dish, then the dishes are judged to determine the winner.” – Bri Bell, registered dietitian, Frugal Minimalist Kitchen
  • Sew it up: Trixi Symonds runs a free virtual sewing camp in July. “The idea is to teach kids the basics so they can enjoy designing and sewing their own projects.” She also posts free sewing projects on her blog. – Trixi Symonds, Sew a Softie
  • Paint with ice: Beat the heat and make frozen paints for your young artists with this ice cube tray project. – Cindy Hemming, B.A., B.Ed, M.Ed, owner, theplaybasedmom.com

For more on how to choose age-appropriate activities for children of all age groups, check out Miss Megan’s comprehensive guide