10 Ways to Have SMARTER Summer Fun

by Kelsey Norwood

in Kid Stuff

smarter summer fun

Summer means you have your kids all to yourself! Some moms might not think that’s such a great thing, but all it takes to have a great, fun-filled, happy summer is a little planning.

My kids are having the most fun when they’re exploring and experimenting and learning, so I try to plan lots of smart activities for them to do in the summer.  Some are more hands on than others, but here’s what we do:



We have independent reading time every day for at least 15 minutes. We participate in our library’s story time and also have some prizes/rewards at home too. This summer Elliot and Gus earn a movie at the dollar theatre for every 20 books they read. We’ll have our first movie outing this weekend!


We also have read-aloud time AND we listen to books on CD in the car. So far we’ve read Hugo Cabret, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Stuart Little, George’s Marvelous Medicine, and Peter Pan. {excuse the underwear-clad boys…sometimes they get too hot for clothes.}

nonfiction kids books

So far we have mostly read fictional picture books with our kids, which is great, but I’m starting to see that they’re ready for more real information. I’ve kept my eyes open for non-fiction kids books at yard sales and thrift stores and am slowly building our collection. They choose these to read-aloud more than anything else.


Summer is the perfect time to read, read, read!!



I bought this book of simple science experiments for young school-age kids and we try to do a few a week. We’ve experimented with magnetism, gravity, properties of air, and flubber. Kids love science!



Public libraries have all kinds of fun activities going on in the summer. A few of our local libraries do animal shows, musical and dramatic performances, and of course the weekly story time. My kids love participating in story time and it’s a great time to check out more books!


Real games, not computer or tablet games, are so great for summer. They teach so many important skills that kids need to know! I find it’s a great time for me to actually play with my kids too. I do a lot less of that than I should…

A few of our favorites are Trouble, Sequence for Kids, Memory, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Checkers, and Blokus.


Card games are perfect for teaching counting, number sequencing, and simple math skills to younger and older kids. We love Go Fish!, UNO, Phase 10, Skip-Bo, and War.



Jigsaw aren’t the only kind of puzzles! We do a lot of jigsaw puzzles and are now getting to enjoy larger and larger ones, but 3-D problem solving puzzles are great too. We love the OBLO puzzle sphere and Perplexus puzzles.

Map puzzles are great too. We have a United States puzzle with all the pieces shaped like a state and my kids are getting pretty smart with their US geography skills.



We build forts with blankets and chairs, towers with legos and blocks, and paper airplanes. No matter what is available, my kids will build something with it so sometimes I give them random building materials and see what they come up with.



Libraries, museums, and schools/universities have a steady flow of cultural and educational opportunities for kids. Check out what’s available in your area – I just found a planetarium show at our local university and weekly musical performances at a library a few cities away. We’re putting it all on the calendar!


Cooking is math. Find some easy recipes and make something yummy together.


I found a used CD for $1 with songs all about the states and capitals. We’ve had it in the CD player for about a week now and even my 4 year old can sing the states and capitals of all the northern border states. Elliot knows the northern, eastern, and southern. They have LOVED learning  these facts and it was no work at all. They picked it up just by listening through the CD a few times.

You can get all kinds of educational music teaching math, geography, grammar, and history. It’s so easy to learn through music and kids love it!


Just cause the kids aren’t at school doesn’t mean they can’t still be learning. For most kids, learning is playing so give them what they want!

There are lots of other ways to have smart summer fun – what do you do at your house???

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kendra July 25, 2013 at 8:15 am

I would love to know where you got the CD’s!

Thanks for the great post!

2 Kelsey Norwood July 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I found mine used on a local classifieds site but the company is called Audio Memory (http://audiomemory.com/). You can get all the CDs on Amazon too. We only have the States and Capitals, but I want all of them, they are great for helping kids memorize!!

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