It is almost summertime in North America! It is the perfect time of the year to get outdoors with kids. Perhaps you have Sunday Church School all summer. Maybe your parish runs a VCS during the summer months. Or possibly your parish has an annual summer picnic. For any (or all!) of these possibilities, you will want to check into the resources we have found for outdoor summer fun. Most of the following links feature multiple ideas. We will highlight a few favorites at each of those links.
We recommend that you visit all of these sites and scroll through their offerings. It will take some time, but you will come away with so many fun ideas! Be sure to make a master list of ideas you like and/or copy and paste the links for each activity that you especially liked into a document so that you have it at your fingertips for future reference. (You may wish to visit http://sassysites.blogspot.com/2011/07/oh-what-do-you-do-in-summertime.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+SassySites+(Sassy+Sites!) for clever ideas of ways to present these activities to the children with whom you intend to do them, especially if you will be using multiple activities for a single event such as VCS or a parish picnic!)
So, here is what we found.
For group activities:
Here are a bunch of clever outdoor game ideas: http://www.agirlandagluegun.com/2014/05/outdoor-games-to-play-in-summmmmer.html. We especially liked the splash-the-ping-pong-balls-off-of-the-golf-tees challenge, the put-on-a-frozen-tshirt race, the squirt-gun powered matchbox car racing, and the car-wash-sponge-on-a-paint-stick balloon boppers. What fun!
Find a pile of minute-to-win-it challenges for people of a variety of ages to try, at http://lets-get-together.com/2014/05/16/family-reunion-minute-to-win-it/. These would be especially fun for the whole parish, if you are hosting a parish picnic or other intergenerational event.
Hot day? Need some fun ways to cool off with a group that doesn’t mind getting wet? Check out these watery games! http://thestir.cafemom.com/big_kid/156164/8_awesome_water_games_for. Ideas include using water balloons instead of balls to toss around on a parachute (or a sheet) and playing “Dry, Dry, Wet” (“Duck, Duck, Goose” with a wet sponge). Find more really fun water games (ie: batting practice with water balloons) here: http://www.tipjunkie.com/post/water-games/!
Plan an outdoor movie night as described here: http://www.thesitsgirls.com/diy/how-to-host-a-backyard-movie-night/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+thesitsgirls/dIsr+(The+SITS+Girls). Invite the whole JOY Club, and have a fun evening together! (You could have them each bring a large box, decorate them to look like cars, and have your outdoor movie theater be a “drive through” movie theater!)
Here is a list of 50 “old fashioned but still fun” games you can play with kids of all ages! http://www.nannyjobs.org/blog/50-old-fashioned-games-kids-can-play/ Chances are you played many of them yourself. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten how the games go: the rules are right here for hopscotch, Red Rover, I Spy, HORSE, and so many more!!!
This blog was written by a teacher for the last day of school, but it contains a variety of fun indoor activities/challenges that kids would enjoy doing at church, as well. The activities are great for kids, but would also work intergenerationally. Check them out (and keep them “in your back pocket” for an outdoor event, in case the weather changes your plans)! http://tunstalltimes.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/our-last-day-in-pictures.html
Just for fun with kids:
Find 50 links for fun activities for both outdoors and inside at this webpage: http://www.iheartnaptime.net/50-of-the-best-kids-summer-fun-activities/. Some favorite ideas found here include directions for making a reading teepee, building your own kiddie car wash for bikes (or for kids!), making your own ladder golf game, and ice excavating.
This page lists inexpensive ideas for summer fun: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikespohr/29-dollar-store-finds-that-will-keep-your-kids-busy-all-summ. Favorites include directions for a pool noodle sprinkler, kickball croquet, backyard (or beach) Olympics, busy bag ideas for indoor days, and a shower-curtain-liner giant dry-erase sheet!
Whether or not you work with boys, check out the fantastic ideas on this page: http://www.readingconfetti.com/2013/06/50-summer-activities-boys-will-love.html! We especially liked the clothespin catapults, the mini ice boats, and the printable playground scavenger hunt (for visiting new playgrounds)!
Many simple ideas for entertaining children are found at this page: http://teachingmama.org/simple-and-fun-summer-activities-for-kids/. Our blogger remembers “painting” the sidewalk (and the house!) with water when she was a kid – so simple, but it was fun to do! The soap boats are also a clever idea, and kids would have a blast with the pool noodle “water wall,” among other great ideas.
Find directions to create an obstacle course featuring pool noodles here: http://www.learnplayimagine.com/2012/05/pool-noodle-backyard-obstacle-course.html
For particularly curious and/or science minded kids, http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/50127/fun-science-activities offers ideas from creating a marble run (to learn laws of physics) to building a paper bridge (and testing its strength with penny weights) to experimenting with the chemistry that happens in your kitchen!
Still need ideas? Check out http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/the-ultimate-summer-bucket-list-for-bored-kids?sub=2339847_1322475#.ipoVbVrwr, http://workathomemoms.about.com/od/kidsactivitiesfamilyfun/a/ideas-for-kids.htm, or https://www.care.com/a/101-fun-things-to-do-with-kids-this-summer-1305030150!
Many of these outdoor activities can be used to help teach a lesson or review what you have been learning. Here are some suggestions in that vein:
Make sponge “balls,” moisten them, and have a throwing-and-soaking party! Or, you could use these soggy balls for a review activity. Each person will try to hit a one-word target (the “targets” can be written in chalk on the sidewalk or parking lot, or on slips of paper in the grass). Each word should remind the participants of something that you have studied together, or a scripture passage, or even part of the Divine Liturgy. When they hit or get close a word, they need to tell what they know about it to the rest of the group, in order to get their sponge ball back. http://www.marthastewart.com/265636/sponge-ball
Cut a slice of a pool noodle, cap one end with a balloon, and end up with a pom-pom shooter!!! Great for outdoors OR inside! Decorate the pool noodle to look like a big fish, and the pompom can be Jonah… Have the students make their “big fish” swallow Jonah, and then later “spit him back out” just as it happened in the Bible (only considerably less messy!)! http://frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com/superhero-pool-noodle-pom-pom-shooter/
Host a friendly “Olympics” with game ideas from this week’s blog for the main events. Gather food ideas from here http://michellepaige.blogspot.com/2012/07/olympics-family-dinner.html, as well as candy “medal” prizes (also found here, as are printable other “metals” if you don’t want to use candy: circle.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/family-game-night-and-some-free-printables/.) Talk about St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Challenge all in attendance to “run” the “race” of their lives in the same way – with mindfulness, diligence, and focus – that an Olympian competes.
Print copies of this photo-based outdoor scavenger hunt, gather several groups of children, and send them out to see what they can spot! http://creativehomemakers.blogspot.com/2010/07/camping-scavenger-hunt-for-kids.html After comparing findings, talk about the beauty of the world God has made. Have them sort their findings into things God made and things that people made. Which things are more beautiful? Encourage them to be responsible with their trash so that they do not ruin the beauty of the world God has created for us to enjoy.
Plan a late-night (glow, but shhh! it’s a secret) party for anyone old enough to stay up after it is dark. When you gather, talk about how you will all be doing a slip and slide, playing a version of tennis, completing a ring toss, etc., in the dark. Go outside and try to play each thing (you could split into small special interest groups and have them each try to play one game, briefly, to expedite the process). Come back inside and discuss how it went. Use this experience as an object lesson to talk about how Christ illumines our lives. As you discuss His changing power in the darkness of our lives, have some helpers outside affixing glow sticks and/or their liquid to each activity station. After the talk (and when all the now-glowing stations are ready), break up into groups again and allow the groups to rotate so that each person gets to attempt each activity which is now illumined. See http://www.designdazzle.com/2012/06/summer-camp-10-awesome-glow-stick-ideas/ for activity ideas.