If the end-of-summer blues are setting in for your family, here are 10 ideas for family fun you can squeeze in before the kids head back to the classroom.
Explore a New Park
Pack up everyone and head to a new park in a different part of town. Bring along a picnic lunch, a Frisbee or ball, and maybe even the dog. Spend the afternoon playing catch, reading books under a tree, exploring a new walking trail, or trying out some different playgrounds. Stop for ice cream or a snow cone on the way home.
Go Camping – in Your Own Backyard
Pitch a tent in the backyard and turn off the phone – backyard camping gives you that vacation feeling without actually having to travel.
Grill up dinner and eat it on a blanket in front of your tent. Roast marshmallows over a fire pit (or on the stove in the kitchen), and tell ghost stories with that flashlight on your chin. Be grateful for the luxury of being able to go inside to use the bathroom whenever you need to.
Don’t Overlook the Little Things
Pick a bouquet of wildflowers (and let your child choose what she deems a flower, even if its a weed).
Work puzzles together.
Make up a bedtime story using their favorite toys as characters.
Pull out clay and make models of characters or magical things from your child’s favorite book.
Make homemade ice cream together.
Go under the stars and have a read-aloud with the myth of a constellation (Orion is a great place to start).
Look Beyond the Library
Ok, don’t ever stop going to the library. But take this opportunity to visit local theaters, museums, or the nearest planetarium. One bonus is there’s lots of air conditioning in these fun places. Another idea is to head to your nearest ice skating rink and get some cool ice time while it’s hot outside.
Farmer’s Market Feast
Farmer’s Markets are still in full swing in most areas. Make the most of them before the yummy summer produce comes to an end. Take the whole family, and let everyone choose their favorite fruit or veggie. When you get home, use everyone’s choices to cook up a delicious end-of-summer feast.
Movie Night Fun
Host a movie marathon at home. Pick a theme – road trip movies, Disney flicks, animated aliens – and create an easy dinner menu using your movie theme to give the foods fun names.
Serve your themed dinner on a picnic blanket in front of the screen. Or stay traditional and serve up big bowls of popcorn. Turn off all the lights, and ask everyone to silence their cell phones before the movie begins!
Create Nature Crafts
Nature is its own masterpiece, so why not let it inspire your family’s artistic side? From nature crafts to making your own tic tac toe board with rocks, crafts made from items found outdoors are not only free, they’re educational and fun.
BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket)
Take advantage of the last summer concerts, music festivals and movies in the park opportunities. Grab a blanket or lawn chair and head to nearby parks to hear local bands strut their stuff, watch classic movies on a big (inflatable) screen, or experience a Shakespeare in the Park performance.
Buy Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
Catch a baseball game before the season ends, whether you have a big league team nearby or some minor leaguers to root for. America’s past time makes a great family fun day. And if they have ice cream in those little baseball hat bowls, go ahead and splurge!
Take a Last-Minute Getaway
Take that weekend getaway you never found time for. Choose a location nearby so you can drive, and look for end-of-summer discounts as everyone heads back to school. Play the license plate game, travel bingo or Slug Bug (Slug Smart Car?) on the way there.