It’s never too late to have a great summer!
What does summer mean to you? Community pools, camps, baseball? Slip n’ slide, cornhole,
cookouts? Ice cream, fried food, iced tea? Nature hikes, free play, read-alouds?
Fill in your own summer traditions and you’ll find that most of the items listed happen with other people, in family and in community.
For children, these people will become the fabric of their youth. They will be the ones that
create essential attachment, validation, and a sense of belonging. Unlike winter, most of these things happen outside, infused with fresh air, sunshine, and a few mosquitos.
If people and places are so much a part of summer, then why is summer a harbinger of screen time panic and worry? Do we have to have a screen-free summer to call it a success?
No, of course not. But we can dial back screens to allow enough breathing room, despite
our hectic schedules, for in-person relationships to develop, for kids to process the school
year with the downtime that makes them want to return in the fall. This year, more than ever,
taking a break from confusing hybrid and online learning experiences will mitigate fears
about falling behind. If screens take a back seat to intentional, planned activities, the effort
will result in less social media angst for older children and calmer but active growth for
Screens are tempting for tired parents. But kids know better. Especially after a year of extra
pandemic screen time, they instinctively want real world experiences with siblings, friends, or just on their own. Summer is the best time to try out creative, brain-building, friendship-
So, I share with you this article reprint that I created a few years ago. Remember older kids can guide younger ones and all the ideas can be modified for younger or older children.
10 Great Things to Do Offline This Summer!
1) Play with Rocks: Rocks are everywhere – at the park, at the beach, in the woods, even
in your own backyard. Collect them and see how many different kinds you can find. Build a
rock garden by arranging them in a container with some dirt and your favorite colorful
gems or beads. Have a pet rock – the 70s fad that allows you to name your rock, bring it
places with you, and give it a personality all its own! Count rocks. How many can you
stack? How many can you line up? Paint rocks. Inexpensive acrylic paints work best. Find
the book Stone Soup at your local library or bookstore and enjoy it with the rest of your
2) Build your own Chemistry Lab: With a few simple, nontoxic ingredients, you can be a
mad scientist! Or a happy one! Soap, salt, vinegar, and baking soda are four basic
ingredients to start. Try creating a volcano by combining vinegar and baking soda in a
large bowl. Dish soap, water, and some string can make different shaped bubbles you can
count, combine, and pop! Try adding salt to some water in order to make an egg float.
With a parent or caregiver's permission, try your own combinations. Add a little food
coloring to make everything more fun!
3) Visit your Local Library WITHOUT looking at any screens, even the computer
book catalog! Books live on shelves. Ask the librarian where to find books on your
favorite topics and then go to those shelves and explore! Maybe a book gets your attention
because of its size, color, or interesting title. Move around to other sections. Look, touch,
open! You will surely find a book that may not have found in a computer search. The smell
and feel of older books with worn dust covers is a sign that many others have read this
book. That means it must be good!
4) Become an Author, Artist, or Playwright: Do you have an idea for a story? You can
make a picture book with words, paint, or people. If you like writing, find a quiet spot, a
pencil and a pad of paper. Start at the beginning, middle, or end. Try starting a story and
let your friend write the ending! Some kids like to tell their story with a picture. Use
crayons, markers, or paint to show a scene in your story or express a feeling. If there are
several characters in your story, gather friends and make it a play. Assign characters and
find common items, like a scarf, towel, or slipper to make costumes.
5) Get and Be a Penpal! Writing a letter by hand with a pen or pencil can be fun. You can draw pictures on your letter, use different color pens, even start one day and finish the
next. Waiting for that special letter in the mail gives you something to look forward to! Send
art to each other, magazine pictures, or a drawing of you! You can write to a beloved
With some planning and minimal supervision, kids can start with the STEM or STEAM (A=Arts) suggestions below and make this summer the best one ever!