Summer is a great time to get outside and spend time as a family. We are big on traveling, but sometimes the best memories are made in your own backyard. We are always on the lookout for ideas of fun things for summer at home. I remember some of my favorite memories as a kid: swimming, watching thunderstorms roll in from the porch, shooting hoops in the driveway, riding my bike around and around the block. I’m sure you all remember your summer days as a kid. Traveling is great and family vacations can create amazing memories, but so do the simple moments. Our little one just turned two, so we’ve been coming up with fun outdoor activities for toddlers. If you’re in search of the same, go back to your childhood and try to build similar memories. And if you need a little extra inspiration, here are some of our favorite outdoor summer activities:
1. Learn to Ride a Bike
The first thing on our fun things for summer: riding a bike! Summer is the perfect occasion for your youngster to hit the open road on a new set of wheels. Our take is that anytime after 18 months is a great time to start working on those bike skills. I don’t think our daughter would have been ready before then, but every kid is different!
Summer is the best season to start because kids have a natural desire to be outside. We suggest starting on a weekend so you can devote a little time each day to practicing. That way you can help your kids retain the skills from day to day. When we were deciding what type of bike to get, we went back and forth a lot of balance bikes vs. training wheels. Ultimately, I would highly suggest the balance bike. We also did a lot of research on brands and landed on Strider (we heard SO many great things). So far, I think we made the right decision with the balance bike. Our girl is asking constantly to get outside and ride. She feels safe learning, it’s teaching her valuable skills (which hopefully will make the transition to a bigger bike easier later on), and we have already created fun memories helping her learn.
2. DIY Saterslide
Second on our list of fun things for summer at home is of course swimming. No major surprise there. We have a dreamy local pool by our house so we love doing that, but sometimes you just want to relax in your own home, while letting your little one splash around. Enter the DIY waterslide. There are a lot of ways you can do this and I suggest using whatever you have at home. We happened to have a kiddie pool and a kiddie slide. So we just combined the two. Run the hose down the slide and let your kids land in the pool. Voila – your own backyard waterslide. Here’s another idea if slip n slide is more your style. And if you really want to take it to the next level: water balloon waterslide. The disclaimer on that last one is attracting all the kids in the neighborhood. You could also blow some bubbles and have them slide through. That requires slightly less work and arguably even more entertaining for a toddler.
3. Backyard BBQ
Another of our favorite backyard activities for kids is the family BBQ. Pick up your summery food of choice and fire up the grill. We love eating outside in the summer to change things up. Fresh air, warm temperatures, and it doesn’t get dark at like 4pm like it does in the winter. Plus, we just got these fun, bright plates and toddler sports cups, so a backyard BBQ was the perfect occasion to try them out. She’s been inseparable from the sports cup ever since this day. Something about the curvy design. I don’t know, but she won’t leave the house without it! Check it out from MAM – they are perfect for outdoor dining (and on-the-go).
Most of the time we have several dishes when we’re grilling, so I like that it has slight dividers to keep the food separate (this is key for most toddlers). We got it from b.box along with a toddler cutlery set. I’ve never seen a fork like this. It’s designed for toddlers and they are so cool. We love the focus on being functional but also sylish. We thought it was perfect for summer dining.
Of course, while we’re cooking we also got out our cornhole boards (or bags as some of you folks like to call it). Our two year old likes to run back and forth with the bags. And she burns off some energy before bed. It’s a win-win for all!
4. Work on your Green Thumb
Gardening with kids is another constructive idea if you’re looking for fun things for summer. For whatever reason, kids love gardening. I think it’s the whole getting dirty and playing with water thing. Gardening is also great for kids because it gives them a sense of responsibility. They have a hand in creating something together as a family. You’ll teach them all about nature, hard work, and maybe even a little science in addition to the memories you can make together. And really, you can plant anything: flowers, vegetables, herbs. It doesn’t really matter and long as you’re letting your kids in on the action. Also, check out gardening activities for toddlers. We love these painted rocks to put around your garden. You could also build a pizza garden. Either way, if you’re not a bug person, get used to the idea of bugs. It won’t be long before your toddler catches one of those squirmy things and dangles it in front of you in the house.
5. Nighttime S’more Party
Lastly, the most obvious item on our fun things for summer list. S’mores and Summer are practically one and the same. Let your kids stay up a little later one night and host a s’mores party (either as a family or with guests). Maybe sugar and late nights aren’t the best of ideas, but sometimes those are the ideas that make the best memories. If you want to have some people over, there are some great s’more party tips here. We especially love the sticky fingers station – brilliant! We cook (or in some cases scorch) ours over a fire pit we built, but you could also DIY your own fire pit.
And you could do the traditional graham crackers, hershey bars, and marshmallows for your backyard s’mores. Or you could jazz it up with flavored marshmallows, fruit toppings, peanut butter, or dark chocolate. Clearly this subject has Buzzfeed written all over it. There’s something to be said for strawberry shortcake s’mores though.
Summer is the season of making memories. These are some of the classic things to do in the summer at home, but use what you have at your disposal. You could set up an outdoor movie for your s’more night. Or set up a tent and camp out. Kids love to be outside, so it shouldn’t be too hard to convince them to partake in family fun day.