When school is finally out for summer, your kids will likely be ready and excited for six glorious weeks of freedom. Days spent playing out with friends, enjoying day trips with the family or even playing in the back garden can all help to contribute to a healthier lifestyle, as well as developing a love of the great outdoors.
So when it comes to planning your kids’ summer activities, make sure that staying active is at the front of your mind. These 10 ideas will help you to get active and plan summer activities that will delight, engage and educate — all whilst providing plenty of fun.
1. Get walking
It may seem obvious, but walking is one of the best forms of exercise a child can get. Whilst they might drag their feet if being taken out on a familiar route around their local park, work with your child’s sense of adventure and take them somewhere new to explore.
Creating a fun goal for the walk is always helpful: maybe it’s a trip to collect leaves and flowers for an art project, or perhaps you’ll reward them with ice cream at the end.
2. Go swimming
Most towns have local swimming baths, which makes taking the kids swimming once a week a great way to build up their strength and stamina in the water.
Take your kids along for a session (most leisure centres will have dedicated family times), and if they enjoy it, consider enrolling them in a regular weekly lesson. Earning badges and certificates is a great way to keep them motivated in classes, and as they’ll be taught in a group environment, they’ll soon make friends. If lessons aren’t for them, find a pool with a wave machine or adventure floats to make sure they burn plenty of excess energy.
3. Play out with friends
Everyone has good memories of playing out with friends in the endless days of summer. Whether you were out on your bikes, racing around the cul-de-sac or exploring nearby woodlands, some of your child’s best memories will come from running around in a group. Left on their own for a few hours, kids will become lost in a world of make-believe and will be able to develop team working and negotiation skills. They’ll even make friends outside of their age group, which can be good for emotional development.
These days, you don’t have to go for hours without contact with your child — keep an old phone topped up with credit to give to your child for when they’re out and about and make sure they know how to use it. And set boundaries — telling them to not leave the street or cross the main road is a good idea.
4. Have fun with garden games
Investing in some good garden games is a fantastic way to ensure that your kids can seek the same level of entertainment from the outdoors as they can from playing inside. Whether it’s team games like cricket and football, or solo games like swingball, they’ll benefit from staying active. For something that the whole family can take part in, lawn games like boules or croquet are great.
These games can help them to develop their hand-eye coordination and spatial awareness as they begin to develop their sporting prowess. If you find that the initial novelty in the toys has worn out, plan some family time to play together. Or, instead of plonking the kids in front of the TV after school, lead them into the garden until their tea is ready.
5. Build a den
Kids love building dens: developing their creativity through problem-solving. Although building one in the garden is convenient, building one outside of the family home will give them a reason to play out. On your next family walk, look for the ideal place for the den — somewhere wooded, with plenty of sticks on the ground, is ideal, but make sure it’s on public land and is a safe place to play.
Use natural features to form the basis of your den, adding sticks large and small leaning against a tree or verge, to create a bivouac. But if you decide to build one at home, make use of materials lying around the garden, or take your kids to a hardware store to choose some plastic sheeting for a roof, or some wood so that you can build walls or a floor for them. Giving them creative control here is key: this is their den, after all. No grown-ups allowed!
6. Play on the trampoline
Trampolining is an excellent workout for all the family; helping to stimulate metabolism, increase oxygen capacity, improve balance and strengthen muscles. Always make sure to set them up a trampoline safely, with adequate matting to cover the springs and a safety net to prevent falls.
Kids will teach each other trampoline games that will keep them occupied for hours. ‘Crack The Egg’ is a favourite: one kid lies on the trampoline and brings their knees to their chest, whilst others bounce around them, counting to 20. The longer that the child can retain their position, the higher their score.
7. Win a water fight
The favourite for a hot summer’s day, there’s no better way to cool down than with a water fight. Kids love donning their swimwear and sun hats to soak their friends and siblings. Play like this can really raise their heart rate because of the level of competition and perceived element of ‘danger’.
Even if your child doesn’t own a water pistol, using a water bottle with a sports cap or an old washing up liquid bottle can do just the trick. If you want to get serious, give your kids a pen and paper to come up with rules and a way that you can declare a winner.
8. Develop skills at summer clubs
If your child’s school or your local leisure centre operates summer clubs or sporting leagues over the summer holidays, make an effort to sign up your child. Even if they seem hesitant at first, joining such clubs can give them focus and help them to make friends. These clubs are a fantastic way to let kids develop skills that might be slightly neglected at school — whether that’s sport, performing arts or music.
If siblings or friends also want to attend, even better. Going with a pal will give a sense of confidence to your child, and will assure them that they’ll have fun. Whether it’s dance, karate or a cooking club, all of these activities will help kids to build confidence alongside keeping active and developing a new skill.
9. Explore the area with a treasure hunt
For a special occasion like a birthday party or get together, creating a treasure hunt around the surrounding area is a great idea. For younger kids, keep it to the house and garden, but older kids will thrive when given a printed out map of the surrounding area, and clues to follow. This will help to develop their skills in teamwork, negotiation and communication, as well as strengthening friendships.
Offer prizes like a film night with popcorn or camping out in the garden overnight. This will strengthen the element of competition and ensure that kids are aiming to complete the treasure hunt quickly — transforming it into a workout as they run around between clues.
10. Get creative with gardening
Giving your kids some time to get creative in the garden is a great way to keep them active, whilst also maintaining your outdoor space. Have them dig up weeds or teach them how to plant, and when they’re feeling confident, give them free rein over an unloved patch.
Gardening can also turn into a biology lesson as they learn about pollination and photosynthesis, but it can also be a great way to learn about foraging or where food comes from. Choose edible plants that are easy to grow like potatoes or green beans or even nasturtiums which have edible flowers — ideal for cake decorating or even adding to summer salads.
Kids’ summer activities
Whether they’re a sports superstar or a creative whizz, be sure to plan activities this summer that will keep your kids active. Playing outside can provide exercise as well as help nurture a love for the great outdoors that will last a lifetime.
Looking for games and toys to keep them occupied? Shop online at All Round Fun today.