I don’t know about you, but as a child growing up in the Philippines during the late 90’s, April was always my favorite month. Why? Because before all the complicated academic calendars came around, April always heralded the start of the summer vacation. What kid wouldn’t be thrilled with two whole months of zero classes, right?
You see, mine was probably the last generation to grow up without omnipresent gadgets and wi-fi. Sure, we had Internet, but back then, we only used our mobile phones to call and text each other, and with the exception of Friendster, social media didn’t really exist yet. (As today’s kids would say, I’m old AF.) So, we definitely had to come up with some pretty creative ways to keep boredom at bay during the summer holidays.
These days, one can pretty much shove an iPhone or a tablet at a toddler or a child just to keep them quiet or occupied, which is fine, except that spending too much time bent over a glowing screen would be a waste of bright, sunny days. (That, and smartphone addiction is very much a thing.) Fortunately, the summer season presents a treasure trove of activities your kids can enjoy, and most of them won’t even cost a penny:
1. Build a fort.
Take a few boxes and position them to create a make-believe castle or house or whatever other structure takes your fancy. Pillows are also great for this purpose, and even adults can retreat into one strewn with snug blankets or curtains for a unique Netflix session too.
2. Write or illustrate your own comic book.
Got some of those year-end papers or essays hanging around from the end of the school term? Recycle them by stapling them together to make a booklet, and then write your own stories or draw your own comic sequences on the blank pages.
You can even go one step further and create a hardbound cover for your book or novel using some spare cardboard. If staplers aren’t your thing, use a hole punch and some twine or yarn to bind the pages together instead.
3. Have a water fight in the backyard.
Here’s one surefire way to get the kids outside. Take some water balloons and fill them with water from the hose or garden faucet. Use as ammo against each other. Repeat as needed.
If you don’t have any water balloons onhand, squirt guns also make a great alternative, as does a plain old garden hose. Just make sure all participants are wearing appropriate footwear so they don’t trip up or slip.
4. Play games during long car rides.
And I don’t mean Candy Crush. Besides, you’d want to keep these handy in case your devices run out of juice in the middle of a road trip to grandma’s or grandpa’s.
“I Spy” is a classic, and it keeps little children entertained for hours on end. You simply choose an object within everyone’s field of vision, and have everyone guess what it is by mentioning a clue starting with the statement “I spy with my little eye….” For instance, if you’re talking about a traffic light, you can say “I spy with my little eye something red, bright, and high.”
License plate games are also a great way to stave off boredom and to exercise one’s vocabulary too. The most well-known ones involve deriving words from the letters on license plates of cars that pass by.
5. Bake cupcakes.
If there ever was a time for kids to learning something new, it’s definitely summertime, and baking is as good a skill as any.
Cupcakes are a great introduction the art of pastry making, and kids can decorate them with all sorts of toppings and colored icing! Check out these recipes to start.
Pro-tip: Kids can be allowed to mix the batter and to pour them into the cupcake tins, but be sure to lend a hand when it’s time to put things into/take the cupcakes out of the hot oven!
6. Visit an aquarium or a zoo.
Staying in Manila for the summer? Don’t fret! Explore the artifacts and paintings at the National Museum, or whet your children’s appetites for science at the Mind Museum’s varied and interactive exhibits.
7. Pack a picnic basket.
Fill a basket or canvas shopping bag with your favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and juice boxes, and tote it along to the nearest park. Spread an old blanket on the grass, and have yourself an old-fashioned picnic while the sun is still out and shining. You can also bring your favorite board games or card games along for some extra fun.
8. Make your own bubbles.
Remember how fun it was to blow bubbles into the air? Using the following recipe, you can make your own bubble solution:
Stir 1 cup of dish soap and ¼ cup of corn syrup into 6 cups of water into one container. Dip a straw into the resulting solution, and then blow to make small but fast flowing bubbles. Alternatively, trim the bottom end of a plastic soft drink bottle and use the half with the lid to blow bigger bubbles.
For stronger bubbles that last longer, let the solution rest overnight before using.
9. Sell lemonade or ice candies on the sidewalk.
It’s never too early to discover your entrepreneurial streak, so if your kid’s been asking for extra allowance this summer, why not have them try their hand at selling lemonade or ice candy on your street?
Start off by going to the grocery and taking note of the prices of your ingredients (e.g., sugar, lemons, or milk if you’re making ice candies). Explain how your selling price should include a reasonable profit margin, and then help your kid set up their own lemonade or ice candy stand by the road.
Now would also be a good time to illustrate how market demand and supply works in a simple way (i.e., when it’s hot outside, people get thirsty and often crave something cold to drink, hence their willingness to purchase something like lemonade or ice candies).
10. Go swimming at a nearby beach, lake, or pool.
Because no summer is complete without a swimming excursion, be sure to schedule a trip to the body of water of your choice. Don’t forget to bring sunblock!
Whether you’re trying to wean your own smartphone addiction or are simply trying to cultivate your child’s imagination off-grid, these upcoming summer months present plenty of opportunities to come up with fun ways of doing either. All you have to do is choose which ones to enjoy.