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This week I’m giving a lot of thought to creating a summer schedule for kids!
I know I’m late to the planning party — my kids still have school through this Friday because of a teachers’ strike in March, so it took until now to get a sense of urgency around planning.
But come next week, it’s officially summer break. I’m excited to spend time with the boys, far less worried about how we’ll fill all that time together than I usually am.
The reason? A whole lotta theme day ideas!
Ideal Summer Schedule for Kids = Flexibility + Structure
I’m sure you’ve seen summer fun bucket lists, as well as summer weekly theme ideas featuring ideas like “Water Wednesday.”
This is my amalgamation of the two! It marries the flexible range of ideas of the bucket lists with the predictable structure of the theme days.
Bucket lists are great, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start; this is especially the case when you’re looking for activities to fill an entire day, not just an hour or two.
As far as themes like Water Wednesday, some weeks the weather forecast will cooperate and it will indeed be a great day for the pool or beach.
But some weeks Wednesday will bring thunderstorms. Or Grandma will be visiting and water balloon fights aren’t really her thing. 🙂
Or the UV index will be 8 and you’ll just need a little break from applying and reapplying sunscreen to squirming, whining little people (seriously one of my least favorite parts of summer).
Whatever the reason, Water Wednesday won’t always be a failproof plan.
A good summer schedule for kids combines fun activity ideas with structure and flexibility. And that’s why theme days work so well!
How to Create a Summer Schedule for Kids Using Theme Days
To put together a summer schedule for kids, you might choose just five or six themes that work really well for your family and put them on repeat. Or you might try each theme at least once and keep track of your favorites for next summer.
If you work full-time but want ideas for the weekends, use the themes to plan a Saturday. Or give the list to a nanny or grandparent who’s looking for ways to spend quality time with your kids.
There’s no wrong way to do this! I hope this list gives you plenty of ideas to bring some order to your days while making memories, having adventures, and soaking up all summer has to offer.
I wish I’d had time to expand on each theme day with specifics and extension activities, but then it would have taken me until back-to-school time to get this post done.
Instead, I’ve added details only where the theme isn’t self-explanatory and hope to expand on certain themes in future posts.
Without further adieu, the list!
1. Library Day
2. Museum/Aquarium/Zoo Day
3. Pool/Splash Pad Day
4. Beach Day
5. Arts & Crafts Day
6. Cooking/Baking Day
7. Playground Day
8. Camping Day
Set up a tent in the backyard as if you’re camping. Make meals on the grill or over a fire pit. Read books and play games in the tent during the day, then sleep in there overnight.
9. Hiking Day
10. State/Regional Park Day
11. Yard Day
Do activities only in your front and backyard. Tend the garden, stomp in the mud, play with neighbor kids, blow bubbles, launch a stomp rocket, draw with sidewalk chalk, etc.
12. Explore Our City Day
Be a tourist in your own city! You know those things people come to your area to visit? Visit them with your kids! Two on my list for Minneapolis are the cherry on a spoon in the Sculpture Garden and the downtown skyway system.
13. Geocaching Day
14. Nature Center Day
15. Surprise Day
Don’t reveal the plan for the day until that morning!
And the reveal itself can be done in a fun way, too. Write it on a slip of paper and tape it to the bottom of the cereal box for a breakfast time announcement.
Or take your daily pill organizer, tape dates to the top of each lid, and tuck the surprises inside. Voila! 7 weeks’ worth of surprise dates.
Ideas include mini golf, bowling, a county fair or carnival, a baseball game, a trampoline park, or a kid-friendly bookstore.
You’re aiming for a fun outing that isn’t one you do on a regular basis.
Because if it’s something you’d normally do anyway, it’s false advertising to call it a surprise (and if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll call that out in a heartbeat!).
16. Letter Celebration Day
A few summers ago, it was mid-August and I was starting to run out of steam.
In a stroke of inspiration, I declared we were going to celebrate the letter B. We gathered up balls, a blanket, books, and bubbles and brought them to a grassy area of a nearby park. The kids had a–wait for it–blast. (Bah-dum chhhh!)
You could do this with the letter P for eating popsicles while playing in the (kiddie) pool, or C for making cookies and crafts. Let your child’s interests and your creativity guide you!
17. Service and Acts of Kindness Day
18. Water Play Day
This theme doesn’t require going beyond the backyard – fill up some water balloons and get out the squirt guns!
19. Garage Sale Day
Teach the kids frugality from a young age while finding some new treasures! If their attention wanes, you can make it into a scavenger hunt or bingo game.
20. Board Game Day
21. Outdoor Game Day
22. Lemonade Stand Day
23. Biking Day
24. Movie Day
25. Friend Day
Have a play date or sleepover with friends.
26. Taste Test Day
Pick one of your kids’ favorite foods, such as pepperoni pizza, frosted sprinkled donuts, or cinnamon rolls. Get that food from three different places, then conduct a blind taste test to determine the winner.
27. National ___________ Day
Today is National Arizona Day, National Smoothie Day, National Seashell Day, and National Daylight Appreciation Day, among others. Find other days here. There’s always a reason to celebrate!
28. Summer Celebrations Day
Summer offers so many fun activities, like concerts in the park, itinerant puppet shows, and outdoor story times. Find a local events calendar to incorporate some of these fun happenings into your plan for the week. Fellow Twin Cities residents, I love this one.
29. Kids’ Choice
What’s your child’s latest obsession? Evan is currently a soccer fanatic, so he might pick a soccer-themed day. We could walk to the park to play soccer (our yard is tiny), watch some legendary soccer clips on YouTube, and read about soccer in our kids’ encyclopedia. We might also have a soccer ball snack and hop on Art Hub for Kids to create soccer drawings for our art gallery.
30. Mom’s Choice
Saving the best for last — what’s something that YOU want to learn about? 🙂
Save this one until after each of your kids has had at least one kid’s choice day. That gives the moan-and-groan routine less potency, because, hey, it’s only fair that everybody gets a turn, right?!?
So what would this look like?
Say you love flowers but, like me, know little about them. You might choose flowers as the theme for your day.
You could go to a local botanical garden or arboretum, make some flower art, and stop by a farmers market or Trader Joe’s to pick up a fresh bouquet. Self-care meets child care!
Don’t Forget to Capture the Memories!
Whenever the activity permits, take a few photos. Remember to take pictures in front of place marker signs as an easy way to track where you’ve been in your flurry of fun!
At the end of the season, create a “Best Summer Ever” photo book. You’ll get to bond over the shared memories in future months and years, plus enjoy all the warm fuzzies that pleasant memories give us.
Start Your Summer Fun Now!
So there you go, six weeks’ worth of summer fun theme days without a single repeat! Did I miss anything big?
I hope these ideas for creating a summer schedule for kids have provided some inspiration. Here’s to a fun-filled, memorable summer for you and your kids alike.