8 fun summer activities for family child care programs

Brenda Barron
June 27, 2018

It's summertime, and that means kids are spending a lot of time at day care. It also means they're spending a lot of time outside.

Of course, you can only let the kids run through the sprinklers so many times before they get bored. So, to get your creative juices flowing, we've put together eight fun and safe activities to do with children this summer.

1. Paint with water balloons

It's not as crazy as it sounds, according to Emily Timmons, editor of AllFreeKidsCrafts.com. Just put some non-toxic, washable craft paint inside water balloons, fill them up with water and let the kids throw them onto poster boards in the grass. It's a bit messy, but the kids will end up with a splatter-paint keepsake that to take home or give as a gift. Take that, Jackson Pollock. 

2. Cool down with ice chalk

Another artsy alternative for beating the summer heat is modifying that time-treasured outdoor activity of sidewalk chalk. All you need to do is: Whip up a batch of homemade chalk paint using equal parts corn starch and water. Split it up into smaller batches, and then add in your favorite washable paint colors. Pour the mixtures into ice cube trays and freeze them. Note: Timmons recommends doing this prep the night before you intend on using the chalk. When it's time to play, pop the ice chalk out of the trays into a bowl and let the kids draw and experiment on the pavement. The colors get more vibrant as they melt.

3. Play in the water

Water is where it's at in the summertime. It keeps the kids cool, and there isn't a lot of prep required. Pools and sprinklers are great, but they're not the only option, says freelance writer and mom of two Darcy R. Shapiro. Water tables are a great way for children to cool off and splash around," Shapiro says. When it comes to water play, however, just make sure to let the kids' parents know to pack a bathing suit, change of clothes and towel for those warm weather days.

4. Start a garden

Take the nice weather as an opportunity to teach kids about nature by letting them plant something and watch it grow. "There are some easy growing herbs and plants that will flourish even under the littlest hands," Shapiro says. Gardening can be a fun daily project, and you could even rotate the responsibility of watering among the kids to give them each a chance at participating.

5. Rediscover the sandbox

You can't go wrong with letting the kids play in some sand. If your child care program doesn't have one, it's a good idea to invest in one. Filling a sandbox with plenty of tools and toys will encourage the kids to be creative as they dig, pour and create designs. Just make sure to get one with a cover, so you can keep out rainwater and critters when the kids aren't playing in it.

6. Nature explorers

You don't have to reinvent the wheel to take advantage of the summer sun. Just get outside and create your own adventure. "A simple walk around the yard boasts lots of fun activities like collecting rocks, playing I Spy and teaching the little ones about the different flowers," says Robert "Daddy" Nickell, a father of seven and CEO of Daddy & Company.   

7. Have an indoor picnic

The weather won't always cooperate. So, for those rainy days (or total scorchers) it's a good idea to have indoor activities on tap. For instance, an indoor picnic can be a lovely way to simulate outside play. If you see a rainy day in the forecast, invite the kids to bring their favorite stuffed animal as their guest.

8. Start a band

Another idea for those rainy or sweltering days is to encourage a bit of noisy indoor fun by forming a band. Shapiro suggests collecting empty plastic bottles and filling them with dried rice to create maracas. "Or take elastic bands and an empty tissue box to make a guitar," she says. Get creative the kids will love playing the instruments they helped make.

There are so many other activities you can put together for summer play, both outdoors and in. Keeping kids engaged is what matters. Boredom shouldn't be a factor when there's fun to be had.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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