Favorite Summer Activities as a Family

by Dana B. Bryant

Family Fun SummerChildren wake up with the sun and they're ready to rumble. At least they're ready to head outside, run around and have fun.

You have your coffee, your computer and have started looking for ways to keep the kids happy and the adults sane.

You might feel like your family's summer fun has become a big business. Camps for the kids, resort packages for everyone, equipment or games that you have to purchase.

Take a deep breath. We have a solution (or seven). Our easy, summer activities promise good times in your yard, on the beach or just down the road.

Seven Super Summer Celebrations

You're on summer schedules. The weather's nice. The daylight lasts forever! Now's the time to take advantage of all summer's perks with fun family activities. We've included ideas that can be easily built into your weekend. Adapt an event for all ages, interests and budgets.

1. End of School Bash

Do something special to celebrate the end of the school for the summer. Invite your friends, who are now free for the summer, and head to the beach for a swim, drop in at the park with a soccer ball, or go out to eat for treat.

2. Solstice Celebration

On June 20 or 21, it seems that the sun stands still. On this day, those who live in the northern hemisphere have more daylight than any other time of the year. Throughout the year and across the globe, different cultures put on feast and festivities.

Decorate with flowers and herbs and include summer fruits and vegetables in your feast. One child told us that strawberry shortcake is a birthday cake for summer and should always be at a solstice party.

Your activities and games can include a sun piñata, sun coin toss or treasure hunt (make them from cardboard or clay and decorate with suns), solar-cooked s'mores, building a fairy house, a maypole dance and making sun catchers. End the evening with a bonfire and stories.

3. Let's Go Play Ball

Go simple by grabbing a ball and heading to the backyard. If you'd like to dress the day up, start with your hat. Decorate hats and shirts for the occasion. You don't need to play a "traditional" ball game. Toss it through a hoop or kick a balloon into a bucket. Whatever you choose, each family member will get fresh air and a lot of laughs.

Toddlers and preschoolers might not be ready for organized games. Try one of our backyard games for tots, instead.

4. Pool Party

Decorate the backyard with beach towels and streamers. Set up the volleyball net or get ready for a rowdy game of "pop the bubbles." Arrange drinks and snacks on the picnic table.

Add a few flower petals to the pool. Oops! No pool? That's not a problem. Place a few kiddie pools around. Depending on ages, your activities might range from siting in it while eating popsicles to ball toss, slip and slide.

5. Backyard T-Shirt Making Party

Gather up markers, fabric paint, buckets of tie-dye and rubber bands or opt to make a nature t-shirt. Each technique tends to be somewhat messy, so for the happiest parents, set up the work space in the backyard.

Once you've all created your dream shirt, wash up and serve up sandwiches and fresh fruit. Finish off your day with lazy cloud counting or throwing a ball to or at each other (safely!).

6. Family Reunion Campout

Are the grandparents in town? Did your sister swing by for a visit? How about a mini reunion right in your backyard or the living room?

All you need is food, a tent or a sheet, a scrapbook, two or three games and a spare cousin or two. Share stories around the campfire (or flashlight) then get cozy in a sleeping bag for a peaceful night of giggles. We didn't say you'd actually sleep!

7. Discovery Day

Start your own discovery day with your kids. A dinosaur club, a magic group or a cooking class. Choose whatever interests you and your family. Plan a fun activity related to the topic.

Here are some ideas to get you started: Bookmarks, skits, dinosaur digs, trips to the farmer's market, kitchen science and card tricks.

What are some of your favorites? Do tell!