I just read a great article about the difference between kids nowadays (overbooked, plugged in and stressed) and the kids in the 1960’s- early 90’s (us). I’m sure most of us remember summers running around the grass with the other kids in the neighborhood. We also remember being bored with a capital B. Yet, we still look back fondly on our summers.

So with summer in full swing, maybe we can make the last few weeks a time to just BE, to just SIT, to TALK, to WALK, to EXPLORE and to PLAY and TRAVEL without a plan and without the phone or TV on every minute.

Here are 21 ideas for summer fun with the kids.

  1. Find a local state or county park and take a hike. It’s amazing how a walk in nature can allow for a quiet conversation with your loved ones.
  2. Head outdoors and sit in the backyard. Better yet, lay down. Pick a day with some lovely cumulus clouds and play the cloud game. Every kid under 10 deserves some time observing clouds with their parents. Seriously.
  3. Find a museum within an hour drive that you have never explored and spend the day like tourists.
  4. Choose another city or town nearby. Drive over, walk around, grab food from a street vendor, people-watch, find a park, a museum, a landmark, statues, stores, etc and be a tourist with no schedule.
  5. Don’t forget crafts on a rainy day! Activities like oobleck (cornstarch and water), play-doh, coloring and homemade popsicles are fun for kids of all ages and get hands active in other ways than pressing buttons.
  6. Read together. Even my 12-year-old daughter and I take a magazine or book and read out loud. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
  7. Head to the nearest beach and collect shells.
  8. Catch fireflies.
  9. Find the nearest butterfly garden and go observe these beautiful creatures.
  10. Have a water balloon fight in the yard. Good wet fun for everyone!
  11. Schedule a game day or game night with board games and cards.
  12. Fly a kite at a local park.
  13. Take family bike rides. If you don’t have bikes, try buying used ones at yard sales or even renting them.
  14. Yard sale Saturday! Take the kids out and let them dig for new treasures to bring home.
  15. Start a jigsaw puzzle and work on it together each day for about 15 minutes. Ice cream sundaes for everyone when it’s complete!
  16. Head to the local library for books and see what events they have going on.
  17. Create a scavenger hunt (this does take some time and planning) and let the kids spend a morning or afternoon on the hunt for a nice new prize.
  18. Speaking of scavenger hunts, why not try geo-caching?
  19. S’mores. Enough said.
  20. Pack a classic picnic basket and head to a mountain, lake or beach.
  21. Ice skate, roller skate, take a train ride … look through the local papers, or better yet, your local “tourist guide” and act like a tourist in your county and find things you don’t normally do.

With just a few weeks of summer vacation left for many states, it’s a great time to let kids unplug and explore the world, or at least their local world, before school starts. We need to set an example too, of being off our devices and IN the moment, connecting, bonding and really enjoying summer, the “old-fashioned” way (that really never gets old).