Sunday, May 13, 2012


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Well. I mean, it's not TECHNICALLY five million.  But still.  It's a bunch. 300+.   Probably plenty for you, because let's be honest, are you really going to do five million things with your kids this summer?


I'm guessing you'll probably do around 20 and then spend the rest of the summer praying for the sweet release of death school. Me? I might last a little longer because I'm borne aloft on the wings of my Working Mom Guilt, but still.  NOT 300.

Some of this stuff is stuff you would need to do with them, but a lot of it is stuff they can do on their own, because I think kids, given a little nudge, should mostly be able to entertain themselves.  (I GAVE YOU SIBLINGS FOR A REASON, MY CHILDREN.)

(None of the stuff in this list is Utah specific.)

(Many thanks to my husband for letting me spend a bunch of time lying around / not spending much time with my children today so that I could write this post about spending time with my children.)

(I LOVE Mother's Day.)


300+ Things to do with your kids this summer

  1. Pretend they've been stranded on a desert island or in the woods
  2. Pretend they've run away from home (let them pack a duffle bag and actually "run away" - as far as you feel comfortable letting them roam - around the block, etc.)
  3. Pretend they're magic
  4. Pretend they're the Boxcar Children
  5. READ the Boxcar Children
  6. Pretend it’s the zombie apocolypse –what do you take with you?  Where do you go? What is the safest spot?
  7. Use masking tape to make "roads" on the carpet for hot wheel cars and then use Legos or blocks to make a village to go with it.
  8. Visit model homes and let them pretend they live in the houses
  9. Learn how to spiderwalk up the walls in the hallway
  10. Sleeping bag stairway sledding (put a mattress at the bottom of the stairs to avoid concussions) (and - I feel obliged to say this - not if your stairs are really steep) (OBVIOUSLY)
  11. Have a tea party (with real food they make)
  12. Play restaurant and let them make a menu and meal
  13. Let them make dinner for the family
  14. Give them cooking lessons (in my particular case, our "lessons" are extremely sad.  "OK, THIS IS THE TRICKY PART.  Rip open the little packet and pour out the cheese powder.  Now - STIR!  STIR WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT!"  Whatever.  They still love it.) 
  15. Try cuisine from different lands - have the kids pick the country, study the customs and meals, plan the meal and any decorations, and help cook
  16. Go grocery shopping - give them the list and let them get everything and check stuff off as they go, and let them pay
  17. Have the older kids host a one day camp for their younger siblings - it's fun for the older kids to plan the activities and be in charge and the younger ones love the attention
  18. Start a club. My kids have had cooking club (everyone comes over and helps make various foods), book club, game club, etc.  It doesn't really matter what club it is, half the fun seems to be in organizing the club, making the rules, inviting people, etc.  It usually fizzles out after about one meeting but they never seem to mind.
  19. Tell ghost stories at night or in a dark room
  20. Play with flashlights
  21. Play ghosts in the graveyard (at night)
  22. Set up the tent and have a late night in the backyard
  23. Sibling slumber party in the family room
  24. Flashlight tag at night
  25. Look for constellations
  26. Build an indoor fort
  27. Build an outdoor fort
  28. Build a sunflower fort
  29. Build a mud fort
  30. Make a lean-to playhouse out of sticks and random boards
  31. Make backyard sandcastles
  32. Dig tunnels in the dirt / make mud forts for army guys
  33. Plant a wildflower patch
  34. Plant a garden and take care of it - put each kid in charge of a specific type of plant 
  35. Pick up large rocks/logs and look at the bugs underneath
  36. Catch bugs
  37. Find an ant colony
  38. Collect rocks
  39. Make leaf prints
  40. Make a pinecone bird feeder
  41. Make a sandbox
  42. Play in the sandbox
  43. Make a backyard construction site with tractors and diggers
  44. Build an Inukshuk (house made out of rocks) 
  45. Climb a tree
  46. Dig a hole, line it with garbage bags, and make a little pond
  47. Have a race
  48. Host a Backyard Olympics
  49. Nature Scavenger Hunt - race around trying to find one thing that matches each color in the rainbow - ROY G BIV
  50. Create a spring flower collection book
  51. Make a worm bin, catch a worm,  and feed it vegetables
  52. Look for shapes in the clouds
  53. Find a cricket
  54. Go on a bird watching scavenger hunt
  55. Make a leaf collage
  56. Paint a rock
  57. Make a log cabin out of twigs
  58. Paint a pine cone
  59. Grow an indoor pea plant or bean plant
  60. Hunt for frogs
  61. Feed ducks
  62. Use window markers (my kids love doing this, especially around holidays when they have a theme)
  63. Rearrange the furniture
  64. Trade bedrooms
  65. Read
  66. Read
  67. Read
  68. Go to the library
  69. Go to a new library you don't normally visit
  70. Play with friends
  71. Extend their boundaries (if you normally only let your kid ride her bike around the block, extend the radius an extra block or two - this feels like a special privilege and lets them enjoy some independence. For older kids, give them a couple of dollars and let them walk or bike to the store to buy something for you.)
  72. Or, if you're uncomfortable with that, as a FAMILY, walk or bike somewhere farrish away that you normally drive to - my kids think this is super exciting. Whenever we do this (which isn't often lately because we live on a super steep hill) they like to pretend they are poor, carless, orphans on a journey. (Er, bring water.)
  73. On ONE day, let them do something they aren't normally allowed to do, i.e., if they aren't allowed to stay up past 8, let them stay up as late as they want; if they aren't allowed to wear make-up, let them, etc.
  74. Spy on someone without getting caught - if you play this at home you can't TELL the person you're spying on that you're playing the game, obviously.  My kids usually decide to spy on ME and they sneak around and try to spy on me without getting caught, which usually works out pretty well for them since I am fairly oblivious.  Eventually I'll hear giggling and/or see someone darting behind the couch and I'll say, "Uh, Megan?" and then I'll hear "Awwww, DANG it," and I'll know I just busted someone.  
  75. Go spy on people outside (We gave Meg a "spy kit" for Christmas with a wig, one of those listening amplification things, a detective notebook, cheap binoculars, and a couple of other doodads.) 
  76. Be a detective
  77. Play I Spy
  78. Make a picnic and go on one
  79. Have a barbecue
  80. Swim
  81. Swim
  82. Swim
  83. Play Marco Polo
  84. Play Shark Tag
  85. Play Water Volleyball
  86. Run through the sprinklers
  87. Make a slip n slide out of trash bags
  88. Water trampoline (yes, this is dangerous) (please don't report me to CPS)
  89. Water gun / ballon fights
  90. Wading pool
  91. Shaving cream fight
  92. Water obstacle course
  93. Make mud pies
  94. Swimming lessons 
  95. Go to a water park
  96. Go to a splash pad 
  97. Go on a boat/canoe/kayak ride
  98. Float down a river on an innertube
  99. Go wading in a shallow creek
  100. Learn to skip a rock
  101. Go to a lake or beach
  102. Wash the car
  103. Have a huge bubble bath
  104. At night, let them take a bath in the dark, but throw a couple of glow sticks into the tub
  105. Hide and seek
  106. Make a treasure hunt - either a simple one indoors or a larger one outdoors, leaving clues around the neighborhood
  107. Make an obstacle course
  108. Play don't touch the ground tag
  109. Roll down a steep hill
  110. Go to an orchard and pick fruit
  111. Teach your kids about money - how to use a debit card, how to write a check, etc.
  112. Teach your kids how to do laundry
  113. Teach your kids how to clean a bathroom
  114. Teach your kids anything
  115. Teach them to fill a bike or car tire (carefully) (obviously)
  116. Teach them how to use an ATM
  117. Play Feather Your Nest - go to Walmart or Target let everyone take a cart, and then let each person "shop" for the items they want to use to furnish their make believe house. They can pick out dishes, groceries, blankets, pots and pans, etc. Then race to put it all back when you're done. Kids love this, I'm not kidding. (Yes, we've gotten some weird looks, but I figure after all of the money I've spent in both places over the years, they owe me some free entertainment dangit.)
  118. Do chores (MEAN)
  119. Be servants for mom (sort of like this) (I'm not kidding, sometimes my kids want me to pretend to be the mean old rich lady and that they are the servants / Sarah from the Little Princess. It seems to make doing their chores more fun when they can pretend to be frightened, etc. I will periodically storm down to check on what they are doing and act crazy and they LOVE it.)
  120. 15 minute pick-up - I set the timer and they run around performing whatever chore I've assigned. Something about the race to finish it before the timer dings makes it exciting. I'm not actually sure what would happen if they didn't get it done before the timer rang. SOMETHING. SOMETHING MYSTERIOUS.
  121. If they are fighting and crabby, I put them all on "restriction" in one room, together. They will usually end up playing together and having fun.
  122. Alternate method - tell them they need to clean their room and can't come out until it's clean. Usually this means my kids will play together happily (or at least quietly) for a few hours because they don't want me to come in and realize they're not cleaning. Suckers.
  123. Alternate, ALTERNATE method - if they are fighting and crabby and/or there is too much "mom I'm bored" going on, I let them know that if they can't think of something to do, I will think of something for them.  Like reorganizing my bookshelves or scrubbing toilets. FUN! 
  124. Go to a historical site, but don't be all boring about it.  Help them imagine that they live there. (In Utah we have This is the Place park.  We don't go a lot, because it costs actual dollars, but when we do go, my kids love it.  They like to go into the various houses and actually pretend to be pioneers.  It bugs them when other people are there because it interrupts their game.  This is the Place is especially cool because they also have crafts, and pony rides (if you enjoy riding in a circle), and a petting zoo with Really Determined Goats, and a train, and a pirate ship (I am not actually sure how this is relevant to pioneers.  Perhaps there is some part of history we are all missing.  The Great Utah Pirate Plague of 1889 or something.))
  125. Go to a ski resort, ride up the chair lift, and hike back down - or for older kids, bike back down.
  126. Go hiking
  127. Go to a convenience store and let them pick a treat and/or go get slurpies
  128. Go to an amusement park.
  129. Go to a bird refuge (If you can stand the smell, which personally?  I cannot.)
  130. Go to an aquarium (ditto)
  131. Go to a hands on children's museum
  132. Go to a science museum
  133. Go to a natural history museum
  134. Go to an aerospace museum
  135. Go to a botanical garden
  136. I was going to say go to a Fine Art museum, but - let's be serious
  137. Go to a different park every week
  138. Go to a local summer festival / rodeo / parade
  139. Watch a fireworks show
  140. Shoot off fireworks
  141. Go on an art walk
  142. Go watch planes
  143. Go watch construction with heavy equipment
  144. Go to a working farm
  145. Go to a working dairy - they often have tours
  146. Go to a train museum
  147. Ride on a train or a subway.  Or heck, even a bus. Kids are easy.
  148. Go geocaching
  149. Go orienteering
  150. Go on a road trip
  151. Go up a canyon
  152. Go on a waterfall hike
  153. Go on a wildflower hike
  154. Go to a sand dune
  155. Go on a scavenger hunt
  156. Go to a drive-in
  157. Go to a movie at the discount theatre
  158. Go get ice cream
  159. Go to a school playground (great place to rollerblade/bike/scooter)
  160. Go to one of those infernal golf/arcade/gocart playlands
  161. Go to a bouncy house / trampoline place
  162. Go bowling
  163. Go to the pet store. (My poor kids. They have no pets. This is because we are horrible pet owners, so we are doing the world of animals a favor and just - not trying it. But they love to go to the pet store to look around. And they always hope. (SAD.))
  164. Go to one of those pottery coloring type places
  165. Go to a play
  166. Go to a concert
  167. Go to a farmer's market (although CAREFULLY - we lost Emma for a while at the super crowded downtown SLC farmer's market and I'm still traumatized)
  168. Go to a yard sale
  169. Go on a nature walk
  170. Go to the dollar store
  171. Go fishing
  172. Go biking
  173. Go ice skating
  174. Go rollerblading
  175. Go to a roller rink
  176. Go bowling
  177. Go to an air show
  178. Go minature golfing
  179. Go to thrift stores
  180. Go for a walk
  181. Go waterskiing
  182. Go wakeboarding
  183. Go on a candy factory tour
  184. Hit up the tourist sites in your city/town
  185. Fix up dolls, toys, and stuffed animals - get the barbies dressed, style their hair, brush the animal's fur, etc.
  186. Make stuff for your barbie house (furniture out of cardboard and fabric scraps, rugs, curtains)
  187. Barbie fashion show
  188. Barbies in general
  189. Turn on the music and have a family dance party
  190. Visit family
  191. Do a secret service for someone - wait till your elderly neighbor drives away, then mow her lawn, or pick the dandelions out of her yard. Or do something at night to make it more exciting.
  192. Make cookies for someone in the neighborhood
  193. Pick a struggling family (if you don't KNOW a struggling family, first of all WHERE DO YOU LIVE, and second of all, LOOK AROUND YOU, and third of all, ask someone) and, with your kids, plan to do something nice for them, secretly. This can be as simple or fancy as you want. For example, you put together a "summer fun" kit for the family - with water guns, water balloons, a punch pass to your local pool, and new flip flops. Wrap it all up and let your kids drop it on their doorstep in the dead of night, ring the doorbell, then run away. Your kids will never forget it.
  194. Play a sport
  195. Play hopscotch
  196. Play a card game (war, memory, go fish, slapjack, speed, etc.)
  197. Play crack the egg
  198. Play softball
  199. Play Simon Says
  200. Play cops and robbers on bikes
  201. Play Red Rover
  202. Play Four Square
  203. Play King of the Mountain
  204. Play Kick the Can
  205. Play Blind Man’s Bluff
  206. Play Red Light, Green Light
  207. Play Mother May I
  208. Play Heads Up, Seven Up
  209. Play Crack the Whip
  210. Play Leap Frog
  211. Play Capture the Flag
  212. Play Follow the Leader
  213. Play Duck Duck Goose
  214. Play Telephone
  215. Play Freeze Dance
  216. Play Murder (THE GAME, although I realize summer may occasionally make you question whether or not to actually try it)
  217. Play the piano and sing
  218. Play kickball
  219. Play soccer
  220. Play tag
  221. Play freeze tag
  222. Play TV tag
  223. Play school
  224. Play a board game
  225. Play with clay
  226. Play karaoke
  227. Play with makeup
  228. Play with a jumprope
  229. Play 20 questions
  230. Play Volleyball
  231. Play Cat’s Cradle
  232. Play dress up
  233. Play with jacks
  234. Play 20 Questions
  235. Play checkers
  236. Play charades
  237. Play croquet
  238. Play post office
  239. Play twister
  240. Play store
  241. Play frisbee
  242. Play catch
  243. Play hot wheels
  244. Play with your toys
  245. Play in a bouncy house
  246. Play on a hopper ball
  247. Play in a boat (when I was a kid we had an old boat - we rarely went out on the water, but we played in it constantly as it sat in the driveway)
  248. Play with chalk
  249. Make slime
  250. Make cookies
  251. Make playdough
  252. Make ice cream
  253. Make snowcones
  254. Make a playhouse out of a refrigerator box or moving boxes
  255. Make artwork to put in frames
  256. Make music with water in cups
  257. Make a kazoo
  258. Make a new kind of sandwich
  259. Make a board game
  260. Make a puppet out of socks
  261. Make a puppet show
  262. Make a movie
  263. Make crafts
  264. Make jewelry
  265. Make father's day cards
  266. Make t-shirts for 4th of July
  267. Make and color paper dolls
  268. Make a model plane/car/train
  269. Make a scrapbook
  270. Make and fly paper airplanes
  271. Make up a language
  272. Make snowcones or popsicles
  273. Make and blow bubbles
  274. Cook an egg on tinfoil on the sidewalk
  275. Origami
  276. Take pictures 
  277. Go on a photography scavenger hunt
  278. Pillow fight
  279. Tickle fight (just leave me out of it, thankyouverymuch)
  280. Fly a kite
  281. Take a free class at home depot
  282. Learn to sew
  283. Learn to crochet
  284. Learn to ride a horse
  285. Learn to use a ripstick
  286. Learn to play chess
  287. Learn to blog
  288. Learn to create a website
  289. Learn magic tricks
  290. Learn card tricks
  291. Learn pig latin
  292. Learn to paint your nails
  293. Learn to braid hair
  294. Learn how to tie knots
  295. Learn Sudoku
  296. Learn how to cartwheel
  297. Learn how to do a walkover
  298. Learn how to do a handspring
  299. Write letters/emails to cousins/grandmas/friends
  300. Write a story
  301. Write a song
  302. Write a poem
  303. Keep a journal
  304. Draw
  305. Paint
  306. Fingerpaint
  307. Color
  308. Have a yard sale
  309. Have a lemonade stand
  310. Do a family service project, like picking up litter or joining in a community cleanup
  311. Do a fun run / walk for Charity
  312. Twirl around until you get dizzy
  313. Do a science project
  314. Do a puzzle
  315. Check out a book of plays from library and act them out
  316. Put on a talent show
  317. Take a nap
  318. Become an expert in some topic that interests you
  319. Plan a fun activity for your family to do
  320. Bury a time capsule
  321. Solve logic puzzles or brainteasers
  322. Have an indoor snowball fight (use newspaper)
  323. Make melted crayon art
  324. Have a movie day
  325. Make-up stories starring THEM and tell them at night (my kids love, love, love this)
  326. and
  327. Laze around.  It's summer. :)


  1. I love the cooking lessons. Around here, my kids think salad comes from a bag. It's sad. And dangerous...

  2. I love this list. I am missing those summers when our kids were smaller. Now our summers are filled with jobs, car repairs, saving $ for college etc. I'm looking forward to grandkids to have summers to build forts and find shapes in the cloud again. Have a fun summer!

  3. Great. After reading the whole thing over my shoulder, my kid just said he wants to be in YOUR family now.

    Thanks a LOT!

  4. Julia6:15 AM

    I love this list, thank you!

  5. WoW! That is a lot of great ideas! I will definitely have my kids pick a few and do them. I do have to say in some states it is illegal to have kids help pump the gas. We had a tween helping his brother and there was a spark for some reason and he was burned really bad and life flighted to Utah to the burn unit. So you all may want to teach that from the confines of the car. But all the others I think are awesome!!

  6. Oooh, springrose, that is a good point. I think I'll take that one off the list. I hadn't thought about it.

  7. Super fun list! I'm loving these posts and glad you're back from hiatus.

  8. I just want to know when you sleep. My god woman, you are a machine.

    I'm going to aim for about five of these. I'm an underachiever.

    Love that you are blogging again.

  9. Love the idea of extending their boundaries. I sometimes forget my ten year old isn't still six. Great list, I'm pinning it. We need to get outdoors more.

  10. I love your list, Sue. It reminds me of summers when you kids were small..."what can we do now?" It should be posted on the wall in every frustrated mom's home the day school gets out.

  11. Mom - When I made my list I spent a bunch of time thinking about what we did when we were kids. Classic stuff :)

  12. I love this list. Well, most of it anyway. The find an ant colony in particular made me laugh. We find them by accident once or twice a week usually all over our feet. I may have to bookmark this page.

  13. I don't know Diana, my brothers used to use up a lot of hours every summer torturing ants, although I doubt that's what Sue meant, ha ha! I love all of the old school games, I forgot some of those existed. I love the idea for making them clean their rooms when they are bored and fighting ha! I'm gonna try that.

  14. We used to have fun finding ant hills and then pouring baking soda and vinegar in them. It was like a volcano with hundreds of tiny victims, with the bonus of pest control.

  15. Pinned it. And now of course, we will do them ALL!

  16. Anonymous11:48 AM

    WHAT. THE. CRAP. WOMAN. I'm tired just reading this.

    call me