Fun & free: Summer activity ideas for the family

Schedule meaningful activities to make sure children do not become screen zombies.

Summer breaks are certainly necessary for down time. However, schedule meaningful activities to make sure children do not become screen zombies. listed in September these three:
– “Grandparents Camp”: Staying with grandparents for a few days or a week saves parents from spending money on an expensive theme camp and allows for quality family time. Grandparents might plan such activities as painting, baking, creative photography (printing photos and framing them) or gardening.
– Pull out a different old-fashioned game each day: Twister, Slip ’N Slide, horseshoes, croquet, cornhole, ring toss, Monopoly, cards, etc. And, come up with a scavenger or treasure hunt. Printable ideas are readily available on such sites as,, and
– Enjoy water. Consider joining a pool for the summer, or purchase a pass at a nearby lake. Tube, kayak, canoe, paddleboard and fish in nearby lakes and streams.

Plan a new craft project each week. In July, offered 100 ideas – some of which include printables so even the least-artsy parents and grandparents can DIY with children. A few on the list include:
– Melted bead suncatchers
– Paper plate butterflies
– Edible fruit necklaces
Tie-dye shirts and scarves
– Paper pinwheels
– Pasta jewelry
– Water balloon paintings

Trips to the beach or a nature walk can lead to weeks of crafts and education. Identify shells while collecting. Paint shells. Purchase some Quikrete, use a box or disposable plastic container as a mold and press shells into the surface; let dry, remove the mold, and voila! Children can put the beach-shell stones in their rooms or in a garden.

Identify and collect “treasures” on a nature walk – interesting rocks, a mossy twig, various leaves, nutshells – affix with glue to decorate the top of a box, which can be used to store more nature treasures. Children can also do colorful leaf stamp art; offers instructions.

If traveling, look for national park activities. Encourage kids to also keep a scrapbook that includes travel notes, tickets, photos, programs and other souvenirs from the outings.