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Summertime is here in Alaska. School is out and that means a lot of free time for the kids. Time to bring on the summer activities!
For my teens, I am less driven to help them fill their days. Plus, they both have a light course load of school work as taking the entire summer off for all subjects isn’t the best way for us to homeschool.
It is my 7-year-old who needs more guidance. Otherwise, his entire day could be spent watching TV shows or playing video games. While I don’t mind a bit of that, I want him to get plenty of fresh air and physical activity.
Fitting Summer Activities to Your Child
When it comes to finding easy summer activities, I like to fit the activity to the child. Not everyone has the same interests although a few things seem to be enjoyed by all.
My 7-year-old is a super loving child who enjoys not only solitary activities but those that require other people. He especially likes having time with myself or my husband and no brothers in sight.
I want to have a balance of things he can do. Some should be done independently and others need to require interaction with other people. The last thing I want to do is create a hermit! Yet, being mostly at home it is easy for that to happen.
Summer Activities Planned for My Son
These are some of the main activities I am planning for my youngest son this year. A few of them may involve older brothers, but others will be things he can do or time with just mom or dad.
1. Enjoy a Good Book
Thankfully, my boys have all enjoyed reading throughout the year. It is a skill I like to encourage.
They read on their own (even my 7-year-old who has been reading Harry Potter aloud with his dad!) most of the time. However, I do enjoy a good snuggle on the couch with a book to read a few chapters aloud.
Many libraries have a summer reading program with rewards or prizes. If you have a somewhat reluctant reader, this could be a motivator for them to read at least an hour per week.
Our local library had a sheet to fill out which gives you an entry into grand prize drawings. With under 10 hours of total activity time (only 3 hours had to be reading!), my boys have already completed the form and claimed their free book.
2. Play Dates at the Park
When the weather is gorgeous, but you don’t have time for an all-day adventure, a trip to a local park can be perfect.
Years ago, we had a play set in the backyard. After moving to Alaska, we decided to not get one as I found the boys had tired of it in a matter of months. They’d much rather go park hopping as local parks often have different equipment.
A local moms group I am in have summer time park days once a week. They rotate the parks so it isn’t the same old place each week. And, with kids they know, it is more fun to go!
3. Take a Hike (or a Walk)
This could be as simple as walking around your neighborhood. Or, a several hour affair involving a drive to a nearby trail.
We are so fortunate in this area of Alaska to have many day hikes available. Some of them require that you pay for parking while others are completely free to access.
The beauty of this activity is the low cost to do it, yet you reap the benefits of fresh air and exercise. Depending upon where you are hiking, you might even get to enjoy some local wildlife!
4. Go Fossil Hunting
Fossil hunting is an activity that many young kids find fascinating. There is something about seeing remains of animals and plants in rock that fascinates.
Less than an hour drive can get us to a wonderful spot to engage in this activity.
Just make sure of any local regulations before you head out! As much as my boys enjoy finding fossils, they also seek out interesting rocks to bring home.
5. Stimulate Your Mind with a Museum Visit
Depending upon your location, there might be a single museum option or several.
Here in southcentral Alaska, we have the Anchorage Museum as a flagship option with a combination of art, history and science focus. They are currently undergoing a massive expansion which required reorganizing some exhibits and temporarily closing others.
We opted for a family membership so we can go as often as we’d like. Given my youngest son’s attention span for anything outside of the kids’ area, I prefer to have several visits to see different traveling exhibits over time.
Look a little closer in your community and you might find many other options. Some of them might even be free, like the Police Museum which is just a block from the Anchorage Museum.
6. Pack a Picnic Lunch or Dinner
This one is can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like.
The truly simple approach is to just set up a picnic spot in your yard (or living room if the weather is nasty.) Or, you can pack up a cooler bag or full-size cooler and take it to a favorite outdoor location.
Even if we are just going to the park, I like to pack a small cooler bag with snack food that is handheld and drinks. All that running around can get them thirsty!
7. Go Camping
Whether you like to camp in a tent or RV, getting away from your home and to a campground adds a whole different level of fun for the summertime.
My youngest is really looking forward to his first overnight tent camping trip with just Dad. This has been a tradition for each of the boys as they became old enough to be a helper at the campsite.
One thing I recommend if a child has never camped in a tent is to do a test hop in your backyard. Sleeping on the uneven ground is not something we are used to doing. Plus, things just sound different in a tent than in the comfort of your house.
8. Make Smores Over a Campfire
Whether you do this while camping or just around a fire pit in your yard, smores is a classic treat in the summertime.
Although you can purchase metal rods for roasting your marshmallows, any small twig will do. Just whittle off the tip a bit and stick that marshmallow on it.
We tend to do this as a family evening time activity in our backyard so long as there isn’t a burn ban.
9. Have an Outdoor Battle
Outdoor battles are something my boys have always loved. I’ve even known a few girls who do as well.
Grab those water guns or other armament and just make sure everyone knows how to play respectfully so others are not hurt.
If you have an imaginative child, this is a great time to let them re-enact a scene from a favorite story. Or, an older child might turn to history for their battle recreation.
10. Watch a Movie Together
Depending upon your budget, this could be at home on your TV with a library rental or DVD you already own.
Alternatively, there are theaters with special summer movie programs geared for the kids with low-cost admission. The films are often older and already released on DVD. However, some things are just better on the big screen.
Typically, we have a family movie night almost weekly. If we are having a nasty stretch of weather (Alaska can be cold and rainy in the summer), then we might have movie afternoon.
Pop up that popcorn and gather up other snacks if you are at home.
Fuelling Your Summer Activities
Regardless of the summer activities you are doing, the kids will want things to eat and drink.
I strive to offer great options for snacks. While water is often the first beverage offered, I know that they sometimes want something with a bit more flavor.
We were introduced to Fruit Shoots a little over a year ago and they have become a great option for when we are headed on the road.
Reasons to include Fruit Shoots as a drink option include:
durable, resealable containers that do not make a mess like some other options
no artificial flavors are added (just a blend of fruit juices)
no high fructose corn syrup is used (some varieties add a small amount of real sugar and others are no sugar added)
Fruit Shoots come in several flavors. Our local Kroger banner store (Fred Meyer) only stocks 3 of the options. My boys were thrilled that the new Fruit Punch flavor was one of the options.
What are some of the summer activities your child or children enjoy?
Have you tried Fruit Shoots yet? If so, is there a favorite flavor?