School has officially ended, though it kind of feels like it’s been over since March, and your kiddos are homebound for the summer. Summer camps are either cancelled or you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that kind of social interaction or sending your children away for long lengths of time. So, now what?!
Fear not! There are ways to keep your children busy while also maintaining social distancing protocols and hopefully giving you some downtime, too. Keep reading to decide which items are a must on your summer bucket list.
1. Build a Garden
This can be as easy as digging up a spot in your backyard and planting some pretty flowers, or as intricate as building your own raised garden bed and picking specific fruits and veggies to enjoy throughout the summer. Many local nurseries are still offering pick-up, so call your nearest shop and ask what they have available that will work for your space.
2. Arts and Crafts
You might be sick of crafts by now, with homeschooling your children for the last portion of the school year, but this one can require minimal prep and keep your kiddos busy for hours. I love following BusyToddler because she has so many ideas for ways to keep busy without having to purchase the whole craft section at Walmart. Don’t let the name of the website fool you, she even has activities for tweens!
3. Backyard Movie Night
This is another one of those make-it-as-intricate-as-you-please kind of activities. You can truly just pop your TV on a table outside with some lawn chairs or get super fancy with a projector and screen. We always have bug spray handy, because mosquitos do not respect movie night, and love to snack on some popcorn and 2/$4 candies from Walgreens.
4. Rube Goldberg Challenge
This one is great because it requires planning, collecting materials, and a lot of trial and error time. Search YouTube for some simple Rube Goldberg machine videos and see what ideas you and your kiddos can come up with to create one of your own only using materials at home. Let your house become a physics factory or limit it to one specific area. Bonus: all that trial and error time helps instill that failure leads to success!
5. Chalk the Driveway
We did this on Easter and it ended up being something the whole family enjoyed. You can plan out a specific design or freehand it and let the creativity flow. It’s really fun to drive or walk through our neighborhood and see all the chalk art neighbors have created.
6. Water Balloon Fight
Waste some time by having your kiddos fill up the balloons by hand or buy one of those “100 Balloons in 10 Seconds” contraptions and get your battle gear on because this means war.
7. Start a New Book Series
Regardless of your kiddo’s age, you can build some great excitement about reading over the summer with some favorite books. Choose an oldie such as “The Boxcar Children” or something more recent like “My Weird School”. Let your child decide and read it together or set aside daily reading time to let everyone unwind and relax.
8. Make Popsicles
You can head down to the dollar store for a cheap popsicle mold, or hop on Amazon to have one delivered right to your door. Turn this into a sweet, special treat, or make it a little healthy by adding minimal sugar and using real fruit. A favorite at our house is pureed watermelon…for some reason it tastes even more delicious in popsicle form.
9. Backyard Pool Party
We’ve all seen them plastered across social media and you either bought into the hype and are enjoying your pool time bliss or put your foot down and said “I will never.” But I say DO IT! We found a cheap inflatable pool at Academy and our two-year-old asks to play with it almost daily. Mommy and Daddy like to pop in some lawn chairs and enjoy an adult beverage while the tot plays. It really is fun for the whole family!
10. Paint Kindness Rocks
Collect rocks on a family walk or take some from your backyard, get some acrylic paint (washable will come off too easily) and paint rocks with fun images or inspiring words to then drop around the neighborhood for other neighbors to find.
11. Wash the Car
You can get all the materials you need at Target or Walmart (or again Amazon — if you’re not venturing out). I like to use big scrub brushes for the heavy grime and grill and car washing mitts for the rest. Have everyone hop into some swimsuits, lather up the sunscreen and head outside to clean the car annnnd most likely get soaked.
12. Backyard Campout
If you already have a tent then you’re good to go, if not you can purchase one online, or one of the aforementioned stores, or just pop up something makeshift with a couple of tarps. Throw in your sleeping bags, or just make a big pallet to sleep on. Make it extra campy with s’mores and ghost stories.
13. DIY Slip ‘n Slide
If you chose the tarp tent option, you can repurpose (or purchase some clear plastic sheeting) to create a slip ‘n slide. Make it as long as you want and put a sprinkler near by to keep it nice and slippery.
14. Day of Baking
In our house we really try not to keep a whole lot of sweet treats, because toddlers on sugar=crazy, but I also have zero self-control. However, every now and then I give into the temptation and am always happy I did. Pick a few of your favorite recipes or try out something new and bake to your heart’s desire. If you’re up to it (and take all the safety precautions) you can even share some with your neighbors or drop off some for a friend as a pick-me-up.
15. Game Night
Pick your favorite board game and pick a night to play it as a family. If your family has a hard time deciding/agreeing on what to play you can always set up a game night line-up so everyone gets a chance to choose the game and you can have future game nights to look forward to.
16. Drive-in Movie
Go to the movies old school style with a drive-in movie at Stars and Stripes Drive-in Theatre in New Braunfels. Check out the link above for movies and showtimes and enjoy a social-distanced night out of the house.
There is so much to see and do at the nature center. From splashing in the river to walking the trails and even seeing dinosaur tracks. You can make the CNC a day long event or just go for a couple hours.
18. State Park Visit
We recently took a day trip up to Blanco State Park, spent the morning swimming, exploring, fishing and picnicking and it was one of our favorite Saturdays to date (quarantine or not). So, pick your favorite state park, make a reservation and plan for a half or all day excursion. We found it very easy to socially distance, with the limited availability of park passes.
19. Float the River
There are plenty of places where you can hop in and float, but to err on the side of caution and avoid the hectic areas that seem to be especially congested on the weekends, I suggest picking your favorite tubing company and going on a float with them. Such companies are required to adhere to certain COVID safety regulations. Take your own tubes to avoid floating in a used one.
This is another favorite in our household. My son loves exploring the gardens, feeding the ducks at the pond and just recently the No Name Creek reopened (8:00am-1:00pm) so you will find us there frequently this summer. Make sure you click the link to make reservations before you go.
21. Bike the Mission Trail
Biking the whole trail might be a feat with littles (it’s about seven continuous miles from Mission Concepción to Mission Espada) but this could be a multiple visit kind of adventure. I’d suggest biking from Espada to San Juan and back or just taking a quick bike ride from Blue Star to Concepción and stop on the green space for a picnic before you trek back. However you choose to do it, this can be a fun and educational summer activity.
22. Picnic at the Japanese Tea Gardens
Speaking of picnics, this is one of my favorite San Antonio spots to visit and spend time outdoors. You can sit under the pavilion or a tree for some shade and spend the rest of the time watching the koi fish or discovering all the beautiful flowers.
23. Feed Ducks at Brackenridge Park
Another popular activity with our toddler. Take some old bread and crumble it up to throw at the ducks along the river. You can explore the park a bit to learn their favorite spots and look for different species.
24. Visit the Beach
If you’re looking for a longer trip, the Corpus Christi beach is only about two hours away (2.5 to Port Aransas or Mustang Island). You can easily make this a day trip if you’re not ready to stay a night away from home. Load up some beach toys, towels, sunscreen and a cooler full of lunch, snacks and favorite drinks. You’ll all be exhausted, in the best way, by the end of the day and SO glad you got out of the house.
25. Day trip to Dinosaur Park
A real life Jurassic Park just a couple hours away. Head up to this park, just outside of Austin, for some serious “oohs” and “aahs” from your kiddos. Reservations are required, so make sure you book in advance.
Whether you are sticking around the house or starting to venture out a bit, you can find plenty of ways to stay busy this summer. Let me know what other fun ideas you have up your sleeves!