It’s the rare child who wants to pass long summer days inside playing Monopoly or quietly coloring pictures. Most children want to take advantage of warm weather to play outside, so many favorite summer games and activities involves water, sand, outdoor toys and natural settings. Remember that long summer days mean children can play games into the evening hours when temperatures cool, making evening a great time for more active games.
Neighborhood and street games and sports work well because they can accommodate many children. Water and sand games entertain younger children, while swimming games keep older children occupied. Cooperative games, in which everybody wins or everyone works together toward a common goal, keep children happily occupied, with no hurt feelings.
Many summer outdoor games involve equipment, such as balls, bats, nets or rackets. Games, such as jacks, marbles, jump rope and hopscotch, entertain groups of all sizes. Many games, such as “Duck, Duck, Goose” or “Hot Potato,” have a circle format, while others, such as “Mother, May I?” and “Red Light, Green Light,” have a line format. Tag games have many variations, from swim tag to freeze tag and, in summer, flashlight tag for late-night fun. Buckets, shovels, hoses, cups, a sprinkler and bubble solution add to the fun of water and sand activities.
Summer activities should be inclusive. Nothing kills a great outdoor activity more quickly than children waiting long periods before taking a short turn or children getting out and not participating for the rest of the game. Take a simple game, such as hopscotch, and make it more active and inclusive by creating a quadruple track with obstacles that allow multiple jumpers to complete it at the same time. Organize activities that involve whole groups of children working toward a common goal, such as building a giant sand castle, choreographing a swimming routine or constructing a fort.
You do not need expensive toys or a fancy swimming pool to keep children entertained in the summer. Fill buckets with water and get balloons for a water balloon fight. Load clean spray bottles with water and have young children spray themselves and play equipment with water. Search around the house for boxes and have children construct a crawl-through maze. Mix up a batch of Play-Doh or break out the lemons for children to squeeze fresh lemonade.
Strong sun and heat can exhaust children quickly, Integrate active games with quieter circle games, or plan activities that children can do in the shade, such as braiding friendship bracelets or building gnome houses. Apply sunscreen frequently and keep unsweetened water nearby for water breaks.
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