It’s official, summer is almost here! I just burned my hand on the steering wheel and in Texas that is the one sure way to know that the kickoff to summer is quickly approaching. That time of year when the summer solstice occurs, the days grow longer and we hear these three words over and over and over again ...“Mom I’m bored.” To help answer the age old question, “what is there to do”, I’ve compiled a list of activities. Activities for kids that get them out of the house and into that wonderful green space waiting just outside the door!
This article contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
1. The Vegetable Patch
Ok, it is probably no surprise that the vegetable garden is at the very top of the list. We like to keep our hands in the dirt around here so getting the kids involved is only natural. Vegetable gardens don’t have to take up a lot of space, time, or money. Some of my clients work vegetables into their existing planting beds while others have dedicated raised beds that they tend regularly. God bless them for their dedication! I confine our edible plants to a few galvanized troughs which fit perfectly into our tiny garden home lot. Whatever your situation planting is big fun for kids of all ages.
For tiny tots I suggest sticking with the staples like tomatoes, eggplant, and bell peppers. These are available in a 4” pots at the local nursery and are easy to get started. In no time at all they can see the “fruits” of their labor. Sunflowers from seeds are also a good choice for this age group. They germinate in just a few weeks and don’t mind the summer heat.
For bigger kids you might want to get a little more adventurous. Try planting pumpkins from seed. They easily germinate but take 90 days (depending on variety) to produce a pumpkin. If you time things right, you can plant in July and be ready to carve in October! Another slow but showy grower is artichoke. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi thriller and the fruit is just about as bizarre.
For more ideas, inspiration, and a wealth of veggie knowledge visit Burpee Seed Company. A plant order is a great way to kick off the summer!
2. Yard Games
When I suggest yard games, I don’t mean the latest flashy items in the summer section at Target. They are eye-catching and by all means make them part of your summer fun, but I want to highlight the classics - the games that have stood the test of time and should be a part of every great garden. None of these require anything more than a section of open lawn to setup and provide hours of entertainment.
The first, Croquet is the classic of all lawn games. I think it is actually WHY lawns were invented in the first place. There are many beautiful sets to choose from. Some are made for young children where the ball is kicked rather than hit, because you might have a son like mine that gets a little too enthusiastic with a mallet. The next lawn game is Badminton. Badminton you say? Well yes, I say back! Actually any old net and any old ball goes a long way to keep kids entertained. Volleyball, beach ball, balloon, you name it. Put up a net and let the games begin. Finally there is lawn bowling which needs no explanation at all because if you don’t love rolling a ball into a crowd of pins and knocking them down then there is a little piece of you inside that isn’t working correctly. You’ll need to get that looked at right away.
3. The Mud Kitchen
This small bench work area for little kids takes the standard water table to the next level. Not only can kids enjoy a kitchen that is just their size, they can also conjure up mud muffins and flower water soup. If you’ve got the time, you can turn building the outdoor kitchen into a family activity. There is a simple pallet project from Oh Baby that can be assembled in about a day, two if you are like me and easily distracted. If a DIY project isn’t something you can fit into your busy schedule then you can let the skilled craftsmen at Olive Branch Custom Woodwork do the building for you.
4. The Work Bench
Like the mud kitchen, the work bench is an outdoor place to be creative for older kids. And of course when I say creative, I mean messy with a purpose. The theme of the space could be art, mining, tinkering with tools, or even potting plants. (See how I worked dirt back into the conversation there?) Your child’s interest will guide you, but all children should have a space in the garden just for them to concoct and create.
5. The Swing
If you have a tree and you don’t have a swing then this should really move to the top of your to-do list. Nothing in our yard has gotten more love and attention than the simple rope swing we installed a few years ago. Sure the lawn is worn (ok, completely dead) from all the running back and forth but it is worth it for the daily entertainment it provides. We started with a handmade cloth swing for our youngest and a trampoline swing for the older kids. The next step will be a surfing swing for our soon to be teenager. If your trees are not quite up to the task of supporting a swing, then the solution is just a weekend warrior task away thanks to HGTVs how-to guide.
I realize these are five simple suggestions, but I find that simple is usually best. That goes for most things in the garden and includes kids too.
I hope you and your little ones have a wonderful summer and find lots of ways to get outside and enjoy the benefits of being in nature. Feel free to post a comment or share a picture. I’d love to hear about your summer garden adventures.