We love the summer, but let's face it, sometimes it's too hot to be outside. But just because the family doesn't want to frolic in the sunshine on these 100-degree days, doesn't mean you can't find enjoyable summer activities for kids. From outdoor water games to indoor fun that focuses on keeping the body cool naturally, summer ideas for kids will help keep anyone from melting on those super hot days.
How To Keep Your Body Cool Naturally
One of the best ways to make sure your kids don't overheat is to keep them hydrated, and water with ice and/or a few leaves of peppermint can help the overall feeling of being cool. The mint can have a dual purpose too if you let them either grow the herb from seed or pick up a mint plant from a garden center. Before planting, let the kids paint their own flower pot or build a planter box themselves. Better yet, find a second-hand vessel for them to decorate. The kids can tend their herbs and watch them grow, pruning the leaves when they want a little cooling bite. This way not only is the mint helpful, but it's interactive too.
Another way to keep the body cool naturally is by adding ice to the fun, and this activity is good for toddlers and bigger kids. Freeze a block of ice with little toys, pretty rocks or marbles, then pull it out on a hot day and let them chip away at it with a stick, spoon or anything that's safe to break ice with. Another way to use ice to cool down and have fun is by making a foot soak using a bucket, large plastic container or even a gently-used baby bathtub. They can play around in the sun and then plop down in a chair and put their feet, hands or faces in freezing cold ice water. This flash freeze is just enough to help take off the intensity of the heat, and get them ready for more summer activities. Combine hydration and ice by giving each kid their own cup of ice. They will munch on it, let it melt, put it in their brother's shirt and basically just use it till it's gone.
Hot Weather Gear
While we can't control the sun, we can control how much of it is warming us up. While engaging in summer activities for kids, it's good to set up some cool down stations. For toddlers and babies, a simple sun shade can make a world of difference. There are all types, from travel-ready pop-up sun shelters to large canopy structures to toddler-sized beach tents, which are great for napping. You can also get a gently-used outdoor playpen for babies and toddlers, such as the California Beach Company Pop 'N Go Playpen or the Summer Infant Pop 'N Play Portable Playard with the canopy.
Older kids may enjoy seeking some shade in a little pop-up tent. These can go anywhere in the yard, and, while they don't keep off rain, they do help with the sun and give your children their own special space. If you want to go hard core with a structure that also offers respite from the sun or rain, go ahead and erect your camping tent in the backyard. This shaded, outdoor summer activity can feel special, especially if you the kids pretend like they are on a camping trip for a day. But no matter where they are playing, a hat should be included to help keep the sun off those little heads and faces, which in turn will help keep them from overheating.
Another way to keep cool while being outside is by doing a fan making art project. Fans are fun because they can be made in so many ways perfect for any age, and they can keep you cool as long as you have energy to move them around. Paper fans that fold over are the easiest, and all you need is some construction paper, tape and/or a stapler. For a more solid fan, make one out of wooden craft sticks by glueing them together in a square or creating a folding fan with paper and sticks. They can be painted or colored on with marker, and kids can add colorful beads, stickers, glitter or anything else they want to make it pretty. Just make sure the handle is on tight so the fan doesn't go flying through the air. There’s also the uber easy wooden fans you can buy and let the kids decorate.
Outdoor water games may be one of the highlights of summer, and this is definitely a good way to stay cool. Break out the squirt toys and water launchers and fill them up with freezing ice water. Each shot will give kids a burst of cold as they play in the yard with their siblings and friends. Of course kiddie pools and any inflatable water vessel is fun too. But if you don't have one, or, let’s be honest, just don't feel like blowing one up, break out the good old fashioned sprinkler. The other day my 4-year-old and 6-year-old frolicked for a good hour playing all sorts of kid games like zombie attack, Mindcraft and Pokemon.
When it's too hot for outdoor games then it's time to move the shenanigans into the house. While some kids will be happy to play with second-hand LEGOs, gently-used action figures or an open-box dollhouse for hours, other kids need more hands-on stimulation. This is where crafts come in. There are tons of fun craft kits to buy that have all the supplies you need, such as the ones from KiwiCo. Make sure to shop for kits that are appropriate for your child's age. At our house we like to have a ton of art supplies lying around too, so that in a pinch we are ready for any DIY project. For example, decorate old shipping boxes and turn them into robots, monsters, masks, boats for that favorite stuffie and so on. Keep a few blank shirts around and some fabric paint so your older kids can design their own "summer camp" shirt. Beads are a great way to spend the afternoon, and a bonus, your children can use them to make gifts for their friends and family.
Indoor time is also a good way to prepare for outdoor summer activities. Find a good ice pop recipe and make some cool treats. We tend to take whatever fruit is getting a little too ripe and blend it with watermelon or water and a dash of agave nectar or honey. Dip your finger in to see how it tastes, and freeze when it’s delicious. If you don't have an ice pop mold then make your own with small paper cups and craft sticks. Other food-related activities include planning a picnic for later in the week or letting the kids make the evenings menu. Add some science to the afternoon by finding different foods like grapes, fruit snacks, pretzels and carrots, and freezing them. Once the foods are solid, do a scientific taste test with notes and let your little ones pronounce the winner.
Take a Trip
Whether you're going on a long distance car trip or want to escape somewhere cooler, along the journey keep little ones from overheating in the car with the Munchkin Brica Smart Shade, which suctions onto the window and pulls down for ultimate sun blocking. Make sure the destination is going to ease the heat, for example going to the mountains for outdoor games where it's cooler, and/or a dip in a frigid river. Or head to the mall or a shopping area where the air conditioning is blasting. Movie theaters are another good way to beat the heat in the summer, and if you find one that has food even better. Indoor museums also can be extra nice this time of year since they tend to have good AC and a lot of stuff for kids of all ages to do.