School’s out, sports are done, and you’ve got a houseful of kiddos to entertain. Quality time with your kids is precious, but long, lazy days paired with unlimited energy can make bedtime a challenge. The solution? Indoor/outdoor activities that get kids moving, thinking and having fun. Keep summer break breezy and avoid bedtime disputes with these five parent-approved, guaranteed-to-tucker activities.
Pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bags, and encourage kids to imagine they’re in the great outdoors. Pure imagination can keep kids busy and bustling for hours. Get creative and bring the scene to life: Use binoculars to spot wild life, plastic bowls to gather drinking water and foam noodles to chop firewood. Don’t forget to suit up in safari gear before embarking on a treacherous hike.
When night falls, invite some neighborhood pals over for s’mores. If you’re feeling really ambitious, have the kids help out with a healthy smores recipe—try homemade grahams (this recipe calls for coconut and spelt flours instead of white), carob (caffeine-free chocolate taste-alike) and roasted pineapple (same sweet kick as marshmallow without the refined sugar).
There’s nothing more classically summer (and satisfyingly tiring) than a daytrip to your local rec pool. Ever wonder why the pool makes you so tired? Using all your muscle groups, battling water resistance, staying afloat, and getting sapped by the sun all top the list. Must-pack items: oversized towels to wrap up chilly kiddos, sunblock to keep burns at bay, and a cooler filled with healthy grab-and-go snacks (fruit slices, ants on a log, and personal-sized bags of pretzels and mixed nuts). As an end-of-day treat, pick up popsicles for the sleepy drive home.
On really hot days, keep the kids indoors for an epic fort-building session. Craft a fluffy castle from couch cushions and blankets, or a more structured abode from kitchen chairs and sheets. There’s endless entertainment to be had running in and out, decorating, playing house and reading books. If kids get bored, challenge them to pull it all down and start fresh on a new design. Break down cardboard boxes to use as walls—ask kids to draw their favorite landscapes or patterns to complete the look. Or try out this brilliant fan-powered inflatable fort—perfect for keeping kids cool on hot days!
Water gun fight
Team up, suit up and let the games begin! To keep things fun and avoid hurt feelings, set some ground rules before getting started: no running in slick or dangerous areas and no close-up play, for starters.
Fill a plastic kiddie pool with Mr. Bubble (or use this recipe to make your own), and give kids a variety of tools to experiment with. Try hula hoops, colanders, soda can rings, plastic bracelets and other household items. For sure-fire laughs, have kids take turns standing in the middle of the pool as you slowly form a hula-hoop bubble around them.