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8 Activities to Keep Kids Busy

Summer holidays are in full swing and we have parents who have their kid’s summer activities all planned out, while other parents have no idea how they are going to keep their kids busy over the next two months. If you are the latter group, this list of 8 activities to keep kids busy this summer is your solution.

It's always better when parents can join in on the fun, but realistically, we know that is not always possible as parents work and don't always have time. Here are some suggested activities that school-aged kids can do on their own or with a friend or with the family. And best of all, most of these activities are either free or don’t cost very much.

8 Activities to Try at Home

1. Learn to Draw

Drawing is a fun activity for kids of all ages. There are many art programs and camps to choose from, but often those spots fill up fast and if you missed the boat on those, your kids can learn from the comfort of your own home. One great resource I found is from 4Cats and they have created a great YouTube channel that teaches you how to draw step by step. It's perfect for kids of any age and even adults can join in on this too. Check out my little guy's drawing when he followed the Narwhal Whale Drawing Tutorial. I loved how he added his own spin from the original.

kid's drawing of a narwhal

2. Tap into their Creative Side

Buy some canvases, paint, and paintbrushes from the dollar store and create outdoor vignettes and masterpieces. Choose a favourite photo and recreate it on watercolour paper or sketch it out. Create manga style art or abstract art and let their imaginations soar.

Of course, there's always Michaels, the mega store for all things arts and crafts. There are so many different types of projects to learn and do from knitting to painting rocks to making jewelry to making slime. I do find the store overwhelming though, so it's best to have a project in mind and a list when you go there. We did tie-dye with the family and that was a lot of fun! Check out this kids project page for ideas.

Tie-dye shirts on a clothesline

3. Read and Watch

Choose a story that has a book version and a movie adaptation. Have them read the story and watch the movie to compare and contrast between the two. Kids can enjoy some popcorn and a good movie and spend some time reading and analyzing.

Some great middle school and high school examples include: Wonder by R.J. Palacio, Matilda by Roald Dahl, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

bowls of popcorn

4. Adopt a Plant

There's nothing more rewarding than watching a plant grow or a flower bloom. Buy a little plant from a garden store and have your child be responsible for watering and taking care of it. Succulents are hardy plants and are great for indoors. If you have an outdoor garden space, plant marigolds or sunflowers. For those with a green thumb and more patience, grow vegetables and tend to the garden. If there are siblings in a family, assign them with a plant or flower and make a "friendly competition" out of it to see whose plant is healthiest.

succulent and aloe plants

5. Learn to Cook

There's a lot of kid's cooking classes to whet the appetite of those who like cooking and baking. An alternative to this is to order a meal prep kit and have your kids do the cooking. The instructions and ingredients arrive on your doorstep, and the ingredients are fresh and healthy. Bonus points - lunch and dinner is all figured out for you. Kids learn to follow directions, cook, and feel the satisfaction of cooking a meal for their family. It's a win win! There are many meal prep companies out there. Fresh Prep is locally owned in Vancouver and delivers across BC and Hello Fresh delivers across Canada. and they both often have promo codes and special offers.

ingredients on a chopping board

6. Try to Code or Build a Website

For the older kids who can't seem to get enough of the screen, there are screen-related activities that build knowledge and skills. The key here is to encourage kids to be active rather than passive on screen. I often ask my kids to pause and think about what they are doing on screen and ask, "Is whatever you are doing giving you traction or distraction?"

So instead of playing games, create games. Kids can learn coding and use their imagination to create their own games and avatars. Check out or for some ideas. The opportunities are endless.

Instead of watching YouTube videos, try creating one. If your child is under 13, you will need to create an account for them. Just be aware of the rules and settings to determine whether you want to keep the channel private or public.

There are also many free website builders out there to try. If your child loves video games, have them write about it and create a webpage. Do they have a hobby or love to binge watch series and movies? Have them write about it and post it online. Ideas flow best when they enjoy the topics they are writing about. When they do this, they are actually practicing their writing skills, but shhhh- don’t tell them that.

3 girls coding on a laptop

7. Plan a Day Out

Have your older kids plan a day out. Have them go on Google Maps to see how long it takes to get to the beach or to a bike park and have them pack what to bring and what snacks to eat. Have them go online and find reviews of a restaurant they want to check out. Have them look at a menu and order food. Notice the trend here. HAVE THEM to this and give them the chance to plan an itinerary, organize and delegate. You'd be surprised how responsible and mature they can be when given the opportunity.

GPS on a phone and in a car

And lastly, this one is important but we often overlook this "activity."

8. Do Nothing

Kids and adults don't need to be constantly doing something. To truly relax and refresh, just be. Have them close their eyes and "meditate". Have them just sit or lie down and just do nothing. Have nothing planned and just let your child come up with their own task. You may initially hear "I'm bored." But rather than stepping in and providing them with something to do, have them fill their void. Step back and say, "Being bored is great. Now you can think of something you want to do."

My younger son was with me at home as I was working and I had nothing planned for him. So he decided to play his favourite dance tunes on Spotify and started singing and dancing away on his makeshift stage propped with a backdrop of our throws and pillows. He was now having a blast! Half an hour ago, he was "bored."

3 boys sitting under a tree

Going to tutoring classes and doing workbooks over the summer is one way to keep kids learning but it is not the only way. Summertime is the perfect opportunity to allow other forms of skill development to take place. All the activities described above activate the prefrontal cortex to educate kids to be creative, independent, self-motivated, and to work in steps and be patient. They foster mindset growth which is the foundation to becoming a successful learner. Give these activities a try this summer and see which activities are your kid's favourites.

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