I walked into Walgreen’s yesterday to buy a tube of Jergen’s Natural Glow moisturizer to add another layer of fake tan to my fair, Irish-English complexion. While there, I consciously averted my eyes from the disturbing display in Aisle Three which held the Back-to-School supplies.

“Nooooooooo! Not yet! There’s still lots of summer left!” screamed the teacher side of my brain.  My teacher view of summer vacations (glorious weeks of blissful days spent gardening, hiking, reading, and enjoying my own children) always conflict with my parent view of the same time (long weeks trying to keep bored kids amused with meaningful, educational, and fun activities).

We are now six weeks into summer vacation, and kids who have eagerly anticipated long summer days with nothing to do other than have fun are singing the familiar refrain: “I’m bored!” Help them embrace boredom as a great opportunity to try something completely new.

Get them outside!

The outdoors holds a wealth of opportunities for fun crafts and collections.

“Science Museum” – Kids can collect seed, flower, rock, and leaf specimens from around the yard, and label them with names, sort them by attributes, or make a pretty pattern or collage.

Insect collection – Get a bug box or make one from a can or jar. Perforate the lid and look for insects to examine.

Leaf prints – Collect leaves and flowers, brush them with paint and press onto paper, creating patterns and designs.

Get Creative!

Unfortunately it’s not always sunny in paradise, but you don’t have to rely on TV or video games to keep your little ones entertained. These activities can hold their attention for hours.

Movie Time – Gather a cast of characters (Barbies, Transformers, or stuffed animals to name a few). Outline the story elements of characters, setting, problem, and solution, then develop a script or improvise as you go. Make a video of the story.

Write a book – For very young children, have them draw a picture and transcribe the words as the child dictates the story. Older children can do this with you. Design front and back covers, and bind the pages into a book.

Create-a-Space – Create Jurassic Park for a dinosaur collection, a campground for GI Joe, a water park for a collection of sharks, a zoo for stuffed animals. Children can use cardboard boxes, art materials, blocks, the possibilities are endless!

Make a new alphabet – Develop a symbol for each letter and write to someone in your new code.

Learn Something New!

Visit the library – Head to the non-fiction section and pick something new to try. Karate, folk dancing, magic tricks, and science experiments are all great ways to help your child develop a new interest.

Museum scavenger hunt – Many art museums offer printed scavenger hunts for kids at the admissions desk or you can create your own by making a list of things for children to find. One idea: find a painting with a candle, a baby, a dog, the color orange, a sculpture of a child, a soldier, etc.  

Snack recipe – Find a recipe that your child likes. Write a list, shop for the items, and help your child prepare it at home. This will help develop writing, reading, money, and measurement skills, and tastes good, too!

There’s plenty of summer left to get creative with your kids. Go learn, create, and have some fun together!