Kids Bored at Home in the Summer?

Life Skills for Young Children

Skillbuilding Play Sets, Books and Activities to Make Summer Learning Fun!

During the typical school day children have a routine that leaves them little time to have to invent their own activities. In today’s society, when children have “free time”, there is a real temptation to provide them with tablets and other technological gadgets to play with for hours on end.

There are a variety of technology-based games and programs that can promote decision making and critical thinking skills, and even some minimal coordination skills. But when children spend most of the day playing with them they have little opportunity to promote their overall physical development and social interaction skills, or to further develop their imaginations and creative minds.

Learn and Burn off Summer Energy

Kids Summer PlaysetsThere are many ways to ensure that children’s bodies and minds continue to be engaged in ways that improve their physical, cognitive and social growth during the summer, and ideas for both free activities and also items that can be purchased follow next.

Climate plays a large role when deciding about where it is most suitable to provide a play environment for children during their summer break from school. Mild climates welcome outdoor play and activities. For hot, humid and wet days, you can choose play resources than can move indoors.

To promote children’s large muscle (arms, legs, torso) skills, aerobic conditioning, and creative play ideas, here are some construction sets for indoor and outdoor spaces:

Indoor/outdoor– The easy-to-set-up and convenient storage features of this tent make it a great indoor or outdoor play unit both at home or to take on a trip. It is waterproof and water-repellent, and has multiple entrance/exit access to accommodate children enjoying it together.

Indoor/outdoor –This adorable playhouse for toddler + ages features a kitchenette, fireplace and play phone. Children practice real-life skills through play, and will be able to use the “grill” to pretend to have a barbecue.

  Indoor/outdoor – Children can build and rebuild structures in different shapes and sizes using the double-sided Velcro connectors that attach to the strong, durable panels.

   Outdoor only – This compact children’s playhouse is ideal for small backyards. It includes a play kitchen and a wooden cot with a cushion. Great place for having a picnic, and maybe even a nap! Requires assembly.

Outdoor only – It will take a long time for children to outgrow this playset which serves as both, a fort and a playhouse. In addition to those features that foster imaginative play, this set includes swings, a glider, a slide and a sandbox. Perfect for homes with large yards, for large families, and for meeting the needs of many children engaged in play together. Requires assembly.

Skill Building Summer Books

Decision Making and Social/Emotional Skills

  Danny is a Superhero-in-Training who has to make choices that kids face on a daily basis.

As your children navigate through the different story lines, they will begin to realize that their choices for Danny shaped his day into what it became. And in turn, their choices for themselves will shape their days, and ultimately their lives, into what they will be.

Science and Critical Thinking Skills

This fun and educational book explores using things commonly found in the home as the materials for the different science experiments. It includes easy-to-follow instructions and colorful photos that illustrate what to do and what the results will be.

Planning and Organizational Skills

Amber is getting ready to go to bed, but she is worried she’ll forget to do something. She comes up with the idea to have her daddy help her make a checklist so that she remembers everything. Read along to find out what all Amber needs to do before bedtime!

Math and Creative Thinking Skills

In this book math is partnered with magic as children discover ways to group numbers to create 10. The author also includes activities you can do with your children to expand on the strategies provided in the story.

by Danica McKellar

Free and low-cost summer activity ideas that build

Imagination and Critical Thinking Skills

Create a doll house out of cardboard boxes and cardboard. Create a plan of how many rooms to make, what materials will be needed to build the structure so it doesn’t fall down. Discuss what furniture, appliances and props (sink, toilet, etc.,) will be needed for each room and what recycled materials you have at home could be used to make them. Implement your plan

Math, Planning and Organizational Skills

Make a shopping list with your children before taking them to the store with you. List the items vertically to make them easy to cross off as you find them and add them to the shopping cart. When the list is finished, count with your children the number of items you expect to find and buy on your trip. 

During your shop with the children:

    • As you find an item on the list, cross it off.
    • If you find and buy something not on the list, add it to the list and put a check mark next to it as you put it in the basket.
    • If you don’t find an item on the list, put a circle around it to make it easy to notice.

When you get home:

    • Review the list with your children.
    • Count the number of items crossed off, the number of items circled, and the number of items check marked.
    • Have the children compare the number of items that were on the “expected” list to the total number of items bought. Ask the children:
      • Are there more or less items bought, or is the number the same as on the “expected” list?
      • Why they think the lists are the same or different, depending on the totals.
      • Discuss all of the logistics that impacted any changes to the “expected” list total.

If you bought a special treat item, such as ice cream, sit down with your children and enjoy it together and celebrate a real-life application of math concepts that will also apply to teaching budgeting skills in the future!

Scientific Curiosity and Creative Art Skills

Kids Summer Activities ParkWith your children, plan a nature walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park. 

Discuss how they will be using their observation skills to find and collect items that are found in the natural environment. They can use these to make a collage or mobile at home. Paper, scissors and glue will work for the collage, and string or yarn will work for creating a mobile. Plan what is needed for the trip: comfortable shoes and clothing, hat, water, sunscreen, etc. A bag for collecting the items. Maybe a snack for a picnic.  

After returning home, have the children sort through their items to choose what they want to include on their collage or mobile. If technology is available encourage them to research what they have found and learn more about them. They will also see how the items are spelled.

Have them find a way to add their names, as professional artists always sign their work. Encourage older children to write a description about their project. For younger children, adults or siblings can write the young artists’ dictations about what they made. Be sure to use words like “Tell me about your artwork” to encourage children’s awareness of their creative capabilities. Using words like “What’s is that supposed to be?” can discourage children from continuing their creative energies.

Karen is an Early Childhood Specialist with more than 40 years of experience in teaching, consulting, and curriculum development for young children.

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