Here are ideas for summer play from an article I wrote for FamilyShare:
Old-fashioned ideas for summer fun
Summer is a great time to enjoy creative play with your children and grandchildren. Here’s a big jar full of creative activities to help you enjoy your busy and happy little ones this summer.
Summer days are like a canvas; ready for painting in any imaginative way. Freed from the restraints of school performance and other scheduled obligations, children are ready to let their imaginations run wild. In the days gone by, parents encouraged their kids to play outside, usually without a lot of supervision or expensive props. Enjoy some of the best of the past by turning the little ones loose to explore and create their own interesting adventures and worlds. The lawn may take a hit, but remember, you are raising children, not grass. Provide lots of drinking water and a few healthy snacks and watch the exquisite workings of the imagination unfold!
Here are a few ideas for enjoyable old-fashioned summer play
Fill a large jar with slips of paper with ideas for activities and games. After chores are finished or if boredom begins to rear its ugly head, let the children select a slip of paper to jumpstart imaginative play. For ideas to fill your activity jar, you can download a list here
No purchase necessary
Provide simple items and encourage the children to participate in imaginative play. A few things to have on hand might include: large cardboard boxes, building toys such as interlocking blocks and Tinkertoys, old dress-up clothes, a few pots and pans, play money, dolls and assorted things (clean out a junk drawer).
Kids love a hideaway
Help the children create one by setting up a tent or tying up a few ropes and blankets. This becomes a fort, store, castle, fashion show, stage or spy base. They are only limited by their imaginations. My sister, brother and I used to love playing together and with the other children in the neighborhood. We were secret agents, shopkeepers, fashion models, teachers and nurses, mermaids and stars. We created treasure hunts, obstacle courses, private clubs, zoos, safaris and worlds of wonder — even an imaginary candy land (before Willy Wonka).
Here are some simple ideas for themed play
Create surveillance and communication equipment from assorted stuff: old lipstick tubes, interlocking blocks and other junk. This might be challenging for kids used to having cell phones, but put away the real electronics and see what their brilliant little minds can come up with. From their super secret spy base, they may just save the world!
Box it up
A whole world of transportation can be created from cardboard boxes. From trains and planes to cars, boats and rockets, your adventurers can zoom around the world and beyond. Other uses: forts, shops, castles and home sweet home.
Acquire an arsenal of hydrotactical assault weapons (get some water guns.) This is a tip from a recent high school graduate. Refill buckets are essential, but keep babies and toddlers away.
Wildflower Tea Party
Invite the girls for a charming social. The hostess can make and hand out invitations, set the table (which could be a box), gather flowers for a centerpiece, pour juice and pass cookies and sweets.
Turn the older creative ones loose to create a treasure hunt for the little ones. Find landmarks, hide clues and try to get to the prize before the pirates do.
Gather a few interesting pieces of clothing and create a Bible story, fashion show or play. Our favorites were Peter Pan, we were either flying or playing mermaids in our wading pool, rock star and runway. On Sundays the Old Testament provides lots of great epic tales to recreate.
Free playtime is a great incentive and reward for finishing chores. Children love creating all kinds of fun using invention and wit and developing social and imaginative skills. Save money and enjoy a little old-fashioned fun this summer with your children, you will be glad you did.