Summer is in full swing. The backpacks are put away, the binders are collecting dust and the daily pace is relaxed. Although your children may be enjoying some much needed time off school, it is important to keep the brain exercised and the body moving! Here are some activities that will keep your kids just as engaged as would any summer program.

  1. Schedule a garage sale. Have your kids pick out clothes, toys, electronics etc. that they no longer use and are willing to make some extra cash on. Pick a sunny summer Saturday where you can host a yard sale. Have them assist you in making signs, placing price tags on items, and handling the money that comes in. Doing this will teach them money management skills and allows them to make some extra dough this summer. If you have a middle school or high school age child, consider having them ‘adopt’ a charity for the summer and have the garage sale to raise funds for the charity.  You can donate some items for the kids to sell and encourage them to donate some of their things.   They can also contact some of the neighbors and see if they have things they’d like to donate to a good cause.  It’s a great way to have them give back to the community and at the same time collect some volunteer hours that will look great on their college applications!
  1. Get messy. Break out the watercolors, modeling clay and whatever other “messy” supplies you have around the house. Then, encourage the kids to create a masterpiece. If your kids are a little older, Pinterest is a creative app where you can learn how to build things you can use around the house such as a home-made bonfire pit or scented candles.
  2.  Compost bin – With the whole world going green, this is a great time to have your kids learn about and make a compost bin and/or a worm bin. It will help reduce the garbage in your house and may even encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables to ‘feed’ the worms the scraps.  Its amazing how many kids love watching and handling their worm ‘pets’.
  3. Rube Goldberg Machine. Calling all creators, artists and engineers, a Rube Goldberg machine summer project is a fun way to tinker over the summer. It doesn’t matter your age or what supplies are available.  Get creative and get the whole family involved.  Use supplies from the garage and setup a space in the family room or in the garage where the project can be worked on over many weeks.
  4. Write a journal. Do you have a budding novelist or artist in the family? Decorate a notebook and keep a log or make a cartoon of the adventures you take on this summer. It’s a great way for your kids to practice their writing skills. Take pictures while you guys are out traveling or doing outdoor activities, and paste them to the notebook for photo memories. Make sure your kids don’t lose these notebooks as they grow older. Your kids will thank you years down the road for having encouraged them to document their childhood experiences.
  5. Cook together.Get the kids involved in planning meals during the week. Try new recipes, go grocery shopping, let the kids handle the ingredients, mix, stir, and knead. They’re much more likely to eat food that they’ve had a hand in making with Mom, Dad, Grandma and whomever else. Plus, skills that they learn in the kitchen will prepare them nicely for life on their own when they go off to college.  If your kids are old enough to work in the kitchen alone, consider making one night a week ‘kids cook out’ night.  Let them find things in the fridge and put together a simple or complicated meal.  Just remember, no matter what they cook, you must eat it and rave about how good it is.
  6. Yard work. Yes, this may sound like a chore, but yard work can be a pleasurable experience, plus it keeps the kids outdoors and your yard looking good. Have your kids plant some fruit trees in the yard. Have them learn what they have to do to maintain the healthiness of the trees so that they can produce fruit abundantly. When the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked, the kids can team up with a friend to gather the fruit, wash them and make fruit salads for a hot summer day.

Have them talk to the neighbors to see if they need help in mowing the lawn or raking the leaves.  It’s a neighborly thing to do and more often than not, they’ll find that the neighbor will compensate them quite generously.
There are dozens of opportunities to stay sharp and have fun with your kids every one of the lazy days of summer. Just be sure you don’t miss out on the opportunities to kick back and pop in a movie with them, too!