Summer kids' activities: Sidewalk sports, backyard games, & nearby outings

Copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

Here’s a great list of summer kids' activities. These activities naturally induce exercise for kids, as well as eye-hand coordination, and contribute to advances in neurotransmitters that can only develop when all the senses are involved. Some of the kids' summer activities here are old-stand-bys, some are brand new.

Backyard summer kids' activities:

Sprinkler games: This classic among kids' summertime activities now means parents are also careful of not wasting water. On the day you’d water your lawn anyway, set up an obstacle course with various sprinklers to see if kids can get through without getting wet. Or, with just one sprinkler, simply get kids jumping over it to the other side.

Backyard bowling: Collect recycled empty cereal boxes, very clean milk cartons or tin cans. Set them up like bowling balls, or stack them in a pyramid, and take turns trying to bowl them down with a soccer or other type of kickball.

King or Queen of the Ribbons: Summer kids' activities simply must include tag, but here’s a twist on ribbon tag. Tuck two brightly colored ribbons (you can make them from second-hand store finds), into each side of kids’ waistbands. Kids without waistbands will need to be given a belt to wear for tucking in ribbons. Kids grab ribbons instead of touching as in regular tag. Kids who eventually have no ribbons temporarily sit to the side. The one who finally gets all the ribbons is the Ribbon King or Queen. But like any good leader, he or she is then in charge of evenly handing out ribbons equally to everyone to keep for their own.

Backyard carnival: Remember grade school carnivals in the gym? These are great backyard kids' summer activities as well. Make sure the kids get to help set them up… that’s part of the fun. Start with setting up a bean bag toss. Kids can just fill resealable baggies with beans, but cloth bags last longer. Create targets such as circles made on the lawn with yarn, or a clean waste-paper basket.

Then set up a fishing booth: Make a fishing pole with string tied to a stick, with a clothespin (that’s the ‘hook’) attached at the other end. Someone hides behind an obstacle with a bunch of lightweight treats. When the ‘hook’ is tossed over the obstacle, a treat is attached to the clothespin, the line is pulled to let the fisher know she’s caught something, then she retrieves the hook to see her prize. Treats don’t have to be specially purchased objects nor expensive. Wrap small cookies in plastic wrap, for example.

Other carnival kids' activities: Be sure to set up a cake walk, but make it a cupcake walk for a backyard summer kids' activity, and arrange it so each kid can’t help but eventually get a cupcake. Consider a goldfish toss, also. At real carnivals, kids toss a ping pong ball into miniature fishbowls filled with colored water and an unfortunate very temporarily live goldfish, which they take home in a plastic bag if their ball lands in a fishbowl. For your summer kids activity version, fill various household bowls with colored water. Kids toss a ping pong ball to try to land in one. If they do, they get a baggie of cheese cracker goldfish, or if you prefer, a waterproof trinket or coin you’ve put inside each bowl.

Sidewalk summer kids' activities:

Ping pong paddle parade: No ping pong table needed for this, and paddles and balls are inexpensive at department stores. Kids line up with a ball and paddle, and parade down the sidewalk, each attempting to hit their ball up and down on their own paddle without it hitting the sidewalk. When one ball hits the ground, the parade must stop and start over until it reaches its destination. The goal is to reach the destination as quickly as possible and with as few stops as possible.

Cooperative chalk mural: Summer kids' activities often include colored chalk for outdoor art. Give each child a designated area to decorate, each area touching another’s area on one or both sides. Choose a theme such as the sea or the zoo -- which can help guide them away from drawing images of their latest violent video-game -- and when finished, stand back and admire the mural.

Marble and clothespin bowling: Summer kids' activities without marbles almost seems like blasphemy. There’s nothing wrong with classic marble games, but here’s a twist. Set up clothespins like bowling pins and shoot marbles into them. Clothespins will stand up on relatively smooth surfaces including many sidewalks, though some may be a little too rough for them to stay upright. If so, turn this into a kitchen floor rainy day summer kids' activity.

Other classic summer kids' activities with little improvements: Just teach kids how to play classic hopscotch (but with today’s brightly colored chalk), and how to play jacks (but give them a golf ball instead of the little rubber balls jacks come with – the game is far more satisfying and works better on sidewalks as well as floors), and how to jump rope to a few jump rope rhymes as a group activity. Give them a print-out of other jumping rhymes. Chances are, they’ll then take over and begin choosing to play these games on their own once you've taught, encouraged and even participated with them a few times. Here’s a photo of a hopscotch layout that was purchased which you can use for a pattern, but it’s much more fun to draw it with chalk.

Nearby summer outings

Discover your own community again. Dig through the local newspaper for summer kids' activities such as carnivals and baseball demonstrations, contact the Parks & Recreation for their list of summer kids' activities such as trail walk adventures or water fun events.

For a visit to a nearby farm, sometimes even near cities, check and to a lesser extent, The first provides listings of farms that have activities for visitors, the second is for any local farm in your area, some invite visitors and some are private.

And, you may want check out the Great Group Activities Home site for more kids' summer activities such as fun backyard dirt piles and bubble games.

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