With June coming to a close, summer is officially rolling across Metro Vancouver. The sun is high in the sky, the thermostat is climbing, and in the next few days, schools all over the province will once again be closing their doors until fall. The early days of summer will likely be sidelined for relaxing and recovering from a long year of classroom escapades, but what are kids to do when the luxury of having nothing to do starts to wear thin and boredom sets in? We’ve compiled a list of some fun and creative ideas to get kids off the couch, out of the house, and moving all summer long. Next time you hear the dreaded “I’m bored,” simply pick an activity and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from having happy and occupied children!
Go to the Market
British Columbia’s temperate climate allows for a rich variety of produce to be grown in our soil. Visiting one of Metro Vancouver’s many farmers’ markets to pick up some of that fresh local food can turn grocery shopping from a mundane chore to a fun summer activity for the whole family. In addition to fruits and vegetables, one can usually find meat from local farms, fresh baked goods, soaps and other handicrafts, and even wine and craft beer for Mom and Dad! Many of the markets also boast a children’s area, where kids can make free or low-cost crafts. Farmers’ markets are a great way for kids to learn about local agriculture and the environmental benefits of locally sourced food.
Create a Summer Scrapbook
There’s so much fun to be had in the summer, a kid may be hard pressed to remember it all! Journaling can serve as an excellent way to document day-to-day adventures to share with friends and classmates once the summer is over. Head to your local dollar store for some scrapbooking supplies and dig out the craft bucket. Every few days or so, get the children to work on a page to capture the fun they’ve had. Younger kids can dictate descriptions to parents and then draw pictures to accompany the words. This can be a great way to wind down before bed at the end of a busy day, and by the time September is here, they’ll have a book full of memories that they’ll be able to treasure for years to come.
One of the best things about summer is undoubtedly having the opportunity to spend time in the water. Swimming is a great form of exercise, and now is a great time to develop those swimming skills. Luckily for us Vancouverites, we live in a coastal city with a multitude of locations to choose from when wanting to go for a dip. And if lakes and rivers are a little too wild for you or your little ones, you can check out one of Metro Vancouver’s outdoor pools instead. Many of these pools are free, and some communities are even offering low-cost unlimited access summer passes to those that normally have pay admissions. Just make sure to review your water safety and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Build a Birdhouse
Inspire your budding ornithologist by helping them build their very own birdhouse! Kits to build one can be easily found at craft stores. Or try a prebuilt model if your children are younger. Even the time-honoured pinecone, seeds, and suet are a perfectly good option for drawing tiny friends to your yard. Hang your personalized birdhouses or feeders up near a window and keep a logbook nearby. Your kids can keep an eye out for winged visitors, and record what they see in the book with pictures and descriptions. They can then try to identify the birds and keep an eye out for visitation patterns and behaviours. This can be an easy way to learn about the wildlife in their own backyard.
Camp Out in Your Own Backyard
Campsites can be expensive and hard to find during the prime summer months. Luckily, many of us need look no further than our own backyards when seeking the perfect spot to sleep under the stars. Even a small yard will suffice for pitching a tent; or simply lay your sleeping bags out under the stars, if the weather’s clear. Kids can stay up late telling each other spooky stories, eating treats, and best of all, doing some stargazing. Encourage them to try to map the stars they see, and then in the morning they can try to identify the constellations they’ve just spent the night under.
Create Some Outdoor Art
Any kid will tell you that bigger usually is better, whether you’re talking cookies, presents, or in this case, art. Don’t settle for a piece of recycled printer paper, when they could be outside painting masterpieces on canvases that are more to scale with their imaginations. Dig out an old bed sheet that you no longer plan to use, or even a large flattened cardboard box. Lay it out on the back lawn, supply some non-toxic paints, and let them go to town. Having such a large space on which to create will keep them going for ages, and setting them up outside will keep mess and clean up to a minimum. Just break out the hose when you’re done!
Make Some Summer Treats
A great way to combat the summer heat is to cool off with some icy summer snacks. Simple, kid-friendly recipes to make ice cream in a bag are easy to come by, or for a healthier option check out our recipe for yogurt pops. Get the kids to help combine the ingredients and do the mixing, and they’ll feel accomplished and proud when enjoying the end result. If the kids are a bit older, they might want to even give a go at a lemonade stand. This classic summer activity is a great way to learn about business while earning some pocket money, which can be saved for an end of summer toy or activity.
Start a Book Club
It can be hard to convince kids to get any reading done during the summer, especially when they fancy themselves on break from all things educational. One way to get around that mental block is to get them to invite a few of their friends to join a book club with them. Each child can take a turn picking a book, and hosting once the book has been read. At club meetings, children can discuss the book they’ve read and their favourite parts and characters. For added fun, themed snacks can be served and simple games relating to the book played. Consider it a sneaky way to get them enjoying reading all summer long.
Have a Bike Parade
There is something about parades that kids just love. It’s probably all the bright colours, loud music, and interesting characters! So why not bring the parade excitement to your own neighbourhood, with a bike parade? Have your children invite their friends and other neighbourhood children to participate by decorating their bikes and trikes with streamers, stickers, signs, and glitter. Once the “floats” are ready to go, the children can ride single-file down the sidewalk for all passerby and parents to admire. The parade can be a fun way to get to know your neighbours and make new friends. Just be sure that everyone wears their helmets!
Map Your Environment
Turn your kids into tiny cartographers with this fun activity. Get them to draw maps of outdoor places they frequent, like their neighbourhood, and their favourite playgrounds and parks. Draw their attention to landmarks such as large rocks, groups of trees, stumps, and the like. Once their maps are finished, you can take them on a scavenger hunt and have them find specific objects such as pinecones or fire hydrants and mark their locations on the map. In no time, you’ll have them developing observational skills and fostering an interest in nature and their surroundings.
With the nicer weather comes limitless availability of fun and educational activities to engage in with your children. These are just a handful of ideas that we’ve come up with to get you jump started on what could be your best summer ever. Before you know it, the rain and wind will be back, so take advantage of that summer sun, get going, and have a blast!
For more ideas, check out the following articles:
- 100 (Mostly) Free Summer Activities and Events in Metro Vancouver
- Summer Camp Guide 2016
- Top Product Picks for Spring and Summer 2016
By: Dayna Wilson