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As Summer rolls around in many parts of the western world, it’s time to look for simple and meaningful summer vacation activities for kids. I wrote a post listing 62 gadget-free activities for kids a few years ago and it’s filled with ideas from moms everywhere.

To my delight, Melinda Stoops, who found me on Twitter, expressed her desire to write a post on a few more activities that she felt families could do together. 

And so, today it is my pleasure to welcome Melinda Stoops, Ph.D, to my blog, as she explains the 8 ways you can make your Summer break meaningful and beautiful. Melinda, thank you for this post and welcome to my blog. 

(This post is a part of my Guest Post series on the blog).


As the school year comes to an end, I find myself considering the possibilities of summer.  Although in some ways summer includes familiar routines as my husband and I continue to get up and go to work (with the exception of vacation time thrown in here and there), there is a distinctly different feel to summer with its long days, lack of regular homework for my children, and the desire to be outside and making the most of this time.

Throughout the year, I think of summer and long for its slower pace, envisioning the various family activities just waiting to happen.  I talk to my children about activities we could do, including old favorites such as a particular mini golf course and routine stops for ice cream.  I picture other parents in my city, my state, and across the country engaged in a similar process.

In addition to the break from routine and the enjoyment of typical summer pastimes, summer vacation offers up an opportunity for meaningful engagement with our children.

It offers an opportunity to explore a common interest or a previously-discussed project.  It offers up an opportunity to connect with our children in a way that feels different from the routine of the school year.

As you consider your upcoming summer and how you might choose to spend that time with your children, here are some ways of connecting.

Summer Vacation Activities for Kids that are Meaningful and fun too!

1. Get outside

Take advantage of the warm days and make it a priority to spend time outdoors with your children.  Explore a new playground or park each week; go for walks through your neighborhood with a goal of meeting someone new or getting to know someone better as you encounter people along the route; do a project in the yard as a family; go on a picnic.

The idea is to enjoy being outside together, while being active and offsetting the often-sedentary lifestyle of colder months.  Schedule this outdoor plan and make it a part of your summer routine.

2. Learn about a shared interest

Identify a topic of interest to everyone in the family and make it a summer project to learn more about it.  Break the topic into small parts, so that each week is a new area of focus.  For example, if your children are interested in birds, you could start by identifying the birds that live in your region; keep a list of birds you see during the summer to track how many you find; learn about what birds eat, their nests, their migration patterns.

This could include getting a bird feeder to attract birds to your yard, drawing pictures of specific birds, or finding books about birds to read together.  Get creative in ways of approaching your identified topic.

3. Plant a garden

Planting a garden is a great way to work together to create something tangible and to watch the fruits of your labor (literally) grow.  Your garden could be a vegetable garden or flower garden or a combination of both.  Your children will learn the importance of consistent care and patience and enjoy the pleasure of being able to see and touch and feel something they created.

In addition, you can then enjoy picking vegetables and preparing them together or picking flowers and arranging them in your house or delivering to a friend.  If you don’t have a yard or space for a garden, you can scale this down to an indoor garden (herbs, potted plants).

4. Learn about a specific place

If your vacation involves travel, take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the location ahead of time.  There are many children’s books on states or countries that highlight fun facts, include maps, and provide information about climate and culture.

One year, my family traveled to South Dakota and we created a song to the tune of Let it Go from Frozen that included facts about that state and then sang it as we prepared for vacation.  If you don’t have travel plans this summer, you can spend time learning facts about your hometown, such as when it was founded, noteworthy events, famous residents, and its oldest building.

Check out this post on 62 Gadget-Free Things to do with your kids during Summer!

5. Pick an interest to explore

Is there something you’ve always wanted to teach your children how to do or an interest you would enjoy developing together?  Schedule specific time this summer to do this together.  Areas of interest to both children and adults include:  art, cooking, writing, music.

6. Create a newsletter

Write and distribute a weekly or biweekly newsletter for family, your neighborhood, or friends.  Take time to map it out with your children by selecting topics of focus, assigning tasks, gathering information, writing, creating artwork, and distributing.

7. Cook together

Set aside time in your week to cook together.  Plan a meal or identify a recipe to try, shop for ingredients as a family, prepare the food, and then enjoy in a celebratory way.  Take pictures!

8. Do some good

Teach your children the value of contributing to their community and/or helping others.  Pick up trash at a local park, do a neighborhood food drive to deliver to a local food pantry, write cards or letters to individuals who need support.

You don’t have to wait to start this process.  Start engaging your family now in conversations about what you can do as a family and select one of the above activities or create your own.

Once you identify a shared summer adventure, you can talk about how to make this happen and build enthusiasm as you plan out the details.  You can keep the momentum going throughout the summer by creating a written and/or photographic journal of your related activities.

Have fun together and have a wonderful summer!


About Dr. Melinda Stoops

Melinda Stoops. PhD

Melinda is a licensed psychologist currently working in higher education.  As a psychologist, she is interested in how people make changes in their lives and the impact of small steps toward bigger change.  She is the mother of two daughters.

Gallup Strengths:  Achiever, Futuristic, Strategic, Maximizer, Competition  https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/

Follow her on Twitter @MelindaStoops


*Pin image courtesy: Summer Concept accessories by Jag_cz via Shutterstock

Comments

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11 Comments

Zainab · June 19, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Those are some good tips Melinda. I like the idea of a newsletter. It can be engaging for the parent and the child.
I also love how you say to do some good. Cleaning the park or picking trash? Good work.

    Melinda · June 20, 2018 at 4:24 am

    Thank you, Zainab. I have two daughters (ages 10 and 13) and I’ve been thinking quite a bit about spending time with them this summer focused on doing something to help others. I’m mulling over a literacy project. Would love to hear if you end up trying the newsletter or service activities.
    Melinda

Rachna Parmar · June 20, 2018 at 8:02 am

That was a very useful post, Melinda. We just completed the summer holidays for kids here. I wanted to teach them more cooking as both my sons have an avid interest in food but due to me own hectic schedule, I struggled on that front. Luckily they did quite a few things together and then old faithfuls like swimming and reading came to the rescue.

    Melinda · June 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Rachna – I have also struggled at times with the challenge of balancing hectic schedules with pursuing a shared family interest. Is there a way to put a shared cooking experience on your calendar for even one day a month? Maybe on a weekend day or evening, you and your sons could cook a meal together. Even one experience like this a month can start building on more such moments.

Sanch @ Sanch Writes · June 20, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Those are some good activities and I’m sure lots of parents will find it useful. I must confess for me though, all it did was make me miss summer. It’s been so cold down here…I miss the longer days, the warm weather, being able to go out and spend hours and hours outdoors…sigh.
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    Melinda · June 20, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    I feel your pain! I know I will have similar sentiments in a few short months – your post reminds me to seize the moment and take advantage of summer while it’s here!

Nabanita Dhar · June 21, 2018 at 11:32 am

This is such a great post for parents with kids on summer vacations. In fact, a few of the tips I can use too with M on weekends. Thanks both for this 🙂

    Melinda · June 21, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    I’m so glad you found these tips helpful, Nabanita. Summer vacation is obviously a great time to do something like this, but these also lend themselves to weekends, holidays and even theme months during the school year (i.e., focus on one of these activities for a specific month).

Vinitha · June 24, 2018 at 9:44 pm

These are some lovely activities for the holidays. My son is enjoying his summer holidays now and we do activities like telling stories to each other, writing in the diary at the end of the day, making artworks, playing board games, playing at the park and pool, and of course the inevitable, playing games on gadgets! Great list, Melinda. thank you for sharing.
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    Melinda · June 25, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Vinitha, thanks for sharing the activities you and you son do. I particularly like the shared story telling. It sounds like a great way to connect and, at the same time, really focuses on creativity. Enjoy !

Dr Shivangi Aggarwal · August 21, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Hi Melinda,
Most parents plan a trip in the summer vacations. But that is only for a week or so. Rest of the vacations are just spent completing school homework and projects. Your list gives parents a boost and ideas on encouraging and supporting their child’s interests and talent. Moreover, they can spend quality time with kids; one which is very difficult to find nowadays.

I wanted to share a story of my neighbour. She has a 5-year-old son and was worried about how to make him spend his summer vacations in a meaningful way. She was looking for some sort of activity classes to keep him occupied in the vacations. Otherwise, he would just play around the whole day.
Can you guess what she did?
She took him along to her Yoga classes. And surprisingly, the kid joined her enthusiastically in Yoga. That way they both spend time with each other in a healthy way.

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