8 Fun Summer Ideas for You or Your Babysitter

Be inspired by these great kid-friendly ideas for summer activities.

kids running in field

When school is out, regular activities end and sports practices subside, what's a sitter to do? Summer camp may be the answer for some, but for other families -- for logistical or financial reasons -- the recipe for summer fun will rest partially on babysitters and nannies. Down time and the great outdoors can be, well, great, but when boredom strikes or kids need a break from the hot summer sun, what's a sitter to do?

Plenty, according to experts at National Geographic Kids, ActivityRocket.com, KaBOOM!, a nonprofit focused on play, and the Nature Conservancy's "Green Mama" scientist Stephanie Wear. Here are their eight ideas.

Need more suggestions? Check out our list of 101 Fun Things to Do with Kids This Summer
  1. Develop Photographers for a Day
    Grab a camera and head out to document the day, photo style! National Geographic Kids offers tips on how kids can take their best shots and venture into sharing them in a
    kids-only photo community.

  2. Head to the River
    Plan a fun morning at a local natural resource like a river, lake, beach or nature preserve. Take a blanket, a ball, a picnic - a trash bag and gloves for all. And make the day a mix of fun games and environmental protection. Teach kids about the importance of cleaning up trash and not being a litter bug. To make it into a mad dash, play the Creek Cleanup game before you head out and time yourselves during the cleanup! Here are 25 ways to keep kids busy and protect the planet at the same time.

  3. Become Zoo-Brainiacs.
    How do giraffes clean their ears? Do you think Tigers will be taking a swim? Watch some weird and wacky videos and print out fun and quirky animal facts in the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2012. Bring the print-outs with you to the zoo and try to catch the animals in action.

  4. Go on a Treasure Hunt
    Leaping lizards, anyone? Head to a backyard, neighborhood park or nearby nature center and discover new things in the great outdoors. Use a scavenger hunt-type checklist and cross off everything you find or collect. Take home loose (non-living) pieces and turn into an art project. Here is a sample hunt list from The Nature Conservancy.

  5. Form a Daily Adventure Co-Op or Nanny Camp
    Kids often have the most fun when they are with friends. Several sitters can take turns planning a daily activity such as a trip to the zoo, free summer concert (many shopping centers offer these!), or, on a hot day, a museum visit or water park outing. Some places offer discounted group rates, so it's a good idea to call ahead.

    Want to learn more? Read about What Is a Nanny Camp?

  6. Read Up on Your Local Library Offerings
    Check out neighborhood libraries for schedules of free story times and craft activities. Get or use a library card to take home books that help kids explore their interests and provide ideas for more activities, whether it's baseball, birds, or baking. See more free summer activities for kids.

  7. Play Shadow Tag
    All you need are 4 players (or more) and a sunny day.
    How to play: On a bright sunny day, head to a playground or field where you can see your shadow. Choose one player to be "It." He or she tries to tag the other players by stepping on their shadows on the ground. When a player's shadow is tagged, he becomes "It."

  8. Play Windows and Doors
    All you need are 5 players (or more) ages 5 and up.
    How to play: Players hold hands and stand far apart in a circle, so that large spaces are formed underneath their arms. These spaces will be the "windows" and "doors." One player is chosen as the runner. He or she weaves in and out of the doors and windows created by the other players' arms. The other players try to catch the runner by lowering their arms and preventing him or her from passing through. When the runner is caught, he or she joins the circle and chooses a new runner. (Get more ideas from the KaBOOM! Book, Go Out and Play, which has over 70 games for kids.)

Many of these ideas can take your kids through the season and make summer boredom a thing of the past. Most are cost-effective, too. Finally, don't forget each individual sitter probably has a passion or talent, too -- and summer can be the perfect time to share that knowledge with the kids. Perhaps it's cooking, coaching, dancing, writing, hiking, painting or swimming -- it's worth exploring, especially from college sitters who can be seen as role models.

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Comments (16)
Sherry M.
Lori,
One thing that I don't think I saw mentioned , is that if it is gas, try placing a warm pack (moist wash cloth in a ziploc bag for 10-20 sec in microwave, test on your arm and place on his tummy. And when feeding do try to keep his head a little more elevated - the heat and the position helps the gas rise and does make it easier for him to burp. When it comes to changing the formula - that really is something the dr would have to recommend (I am an RN and a mother of 3 with reflux), but you can try suggesting it to mom that that might have to be an option. Good luck - it can be rough for a little while.
Posted: April 10, 2012 at 3:45 AM
Photo of Kristie M.
Kristie M.
baby GAS X...MY NIECE NEEDED AN EYE DROPPER FULL EVERY TIME SHE HAD A BOTTLE!
Posted: April 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Photo of Margaret P.
Margaret P.
Lori S.,

My children are grown and gone, but when my youngest was born he too had issues with his formula(s)for months on end. He never smiled, or laughed, he through up each and every bottle. I must have tried 10 different kinds of formula for him, to no avail. I finally listened to my Mother and took him off the formula and gave him low fat milk. His demeanor changed on the first bottle, he smiled, and he did not vomit at all. My pediatrician told me if he was meant to drink milk he would have been born a calf! All I can say is I had a much happier baby once I took him off of all the formulas. I put him on vitamins to help compensate for the goodies that the formula has in it and never looked back. Good luck to you.

Peggy PM
Posted: April 02, 2012 at 9:22 AM
Photo of Shannon H.
Shannon H.
yea lori....froma nurse mom has the wrong nipple size or the formula is upsetting his stomach....do you give it warm or cold, try taking the chill off if cold.but it does sound as though baby needs to switch formula. Ive also noticed that if a baby isnt tolerating the brand with the yellow label, I think it was enfamil drawing a blank right, they usually do well with simalac and its cheaper.good luck
Posted: April 02, 2012 at 7:46 AM
Esther M.
when you finish giving him the bottle rub his stomach a little too.
Posted: April 02, 2012 at 2:45 AM
Esther M.
Hi Lori

Hi again. I just want to ask you a question? Do you heat the formula before you give it to the baby? Maybe it is too hot for him and there is a way for the baby to be held to get fed. Try to see if that works for you and good luck. I think the formula is to thick for him. I am sure he must had taken his mother milk so give a teaspoon of water after the formula. and don t give the full bottle to him. See if that works ask for G d blessing for me.
Posted: April 02, 2012 at 2:43 AM
Photo of Veonne J.
Veonne J.
sometimes if his face is red and it seems like he may pushing it could possibly mean he has gas and a new formula could be used as to see the difference, but if vomiting everytime it could be the nipple as well so try to use a different nipple sized bottle, and or formula, and sooth him while feeding him ;)
Posted: April 01, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Photo of Brittany W.
Brittany W.
He may just not like the taste of the formula and it's not healthy for them either but try putting a drop or two of vanilla in the formula he may eat it better a pediatrician mentioned that to us.
Posted: March 31, 2012 at 3:44 PM
Photo of Jolene D.
Jolene D.
Or not fast enough.
Posted: March 31, 2012 at 2:29 PM
Photo of Alexandria C.
Alexandria C.
i feel your pain! i once nannied a baby who was very difficult to feed.luckily the mother had lots of suggestions and was there to help if i needed her. try adjusting your position( or his maybe) while you feed him. he may just be uncomfortable. also, check the temperature of the formula. some babies prefer cold formula. Kristina gave a good suggestion, sounds like a case of bad gas. try burping him more often during the feeding. maybe the nipple doesnt fit comfortably in his mouth, too. you could try a smaller nipple. good luck!
Posted: March 30, 2012 at 6:10 PM
Photo of Melissa F.
Melissa F.
To Lori S,
try soothing the baby just befor you start feeding him or her. I had a child like that as well. try rocking the baby while feeding, or put in a swing while feeding. Also try to add a little more water to the formula, if its the powder formula just add half of scoop. Try not to feed the baby as soon as he/she cries space the ffedings out. They baby may want to eat more than it can thats where the vomiting is coming from. as for the gas try holding the baby proped up when feeding. feed a little bit then burp, and continue until you feel that baby has burped well. Then perceed to feeding again.

Hope this helps you.
Posted: March 30, 2012 at 4:36 PM
Photo of Kendra R.
Kendra R.
Maybe he need to burp every little time and he an't but try by patting his back
Posted: March 30, 2012 at 3:01 PM
Photo of Chelsea G.
Chelsea G.
Try sitting him up more to help with gas and spit up.
Posted: March 29, 2012 at 7:19 PM
Photo of Jessica T.
Jessica T.
Does he also do this for his mom or just you? If it's just for you, maybe a good way to calm him is to take him out for a walk ahead of time. A change of scenery is a good way to help calm the child and yourself as well.
Posted: March 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM
Photo of Kristina K.
Kristina K.
Check the nipple size, he might be receiving the formula too fast.
Posted: March 29, 2012 at 2:51 PM
Lori S.
I'm a nanny for 3 children, one of whom is a 9mo boy. He cries terribly and pulls his legs up when trying to feed him his bottle. I mentioned to mom but she offered no suggestions. I feel it's possibly an allergy to his formula. It gives him terrible gas as well and he vomits a small amount up every time. I need suggestions to calm him as he usually screams and fusses terribly while trying to drink his bottle. Thank you.
Posted: March 27, 2012 at 10:30 PM
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