In the beginning of summer the newness of playing with video games, iPods, and toys was great. Now that we are several weeks into the summer sleeping in has certainly gained ranks in "favorite things for the kids to do". I secretly had the BEST feeling when I went and woke up all the kids on Sunday morning around 10:30 AM.
When I was younger, I hated when my parents would tell me I needed to get up. From my perspective, the difference is that when I would stay up until 12-2 AM in the morning I did not bother my parents. My step-children insist that if they are up they want to be right there with us watching t.v. up until we go to bed. I like to have at least 30 minutes of time sans children! To some this might seem selfish, but my husband I work all day 5-6 days a week, so it is important for us to maintain a good relationship where we can talk about things without children present.
So, back to the point of my post. I have been trying to think of some things that are a little different for the kids to end out the rest of their summer vacation with before school resumes. Today football conditioning starts for my oldest step-son, so that in and of itself will allow him to re-connect with other boys he knows from school. Since conditioning and practice will exhaust him I don't have to be as creative with him, he will continue to be happy with his previous summer vacation routine as a rest from running.
For the girls who have no sports until fall, there are many more possibilities. I like to try to keep unsupervised activities something that is not very costly. My step-daughters tend to have no ability to hold back on their usage of materials.
One of their favorite activities is duct tape creations. They have made wallets, roses, and I'm sure other duct tape items that I will never know about... A few warnings about duct tape: the adhesive is strong, so get a pair of scissors specifically for duct tape-you will not want to cut anything else after! Also, don't let them do it on a wood table because if the tape falls on it or get stuck you might be missing some finish. I let them use my glass top table (nail polish remover takes out the sticky left behind).
Another summer favorite is going to the library and checking out whatever strikes their fancy. Reading during the school year might not be as fun for kids because they are required to do it, and sometimes don't have the freedom to choose. Sometimes I have to bite my tongue on this one, but I let them read ANYTHING (age appropriate of course). So if this is a comic book or a book with pictures and facts it doesn't matter. The point is that they are reading and likely learning something. Now, I'm not sure the exact lesson in Captain Underpants, but I'm sure they could tell me all about it and something that was useful to them :-)
A last summer activity that for many is year round anyway, but since there is less "rush" than during the school year, doing more cooking activities or experiments can be something kids enjoy. Especially if they involve dessert or the child's favorite foods. I am planing a cooking competition in my house sometime soon. I am going to thoughtfully plan out the scoring method so that there is no "winner" or "loser" but that each child's dish wins a specific title like "most creative" or "beautiful presentation" or "best taste". This is another activity that I have to bite my tongue with because I tend to dominate my kitchen for my own taste preferences and healthier alternative considerations. I remember one time I was completely against a particular potato dish being made because the "creative recipe" called for like 1/4 cup of vegetable oil! Oh heavens...
I suppose the key to fun summer activities is letting them be as unstructured as possible. Give the ideas to your children to expand on their own. They will enjoy doing them more if they don't feel any pressure that it is what they "have" to do. Good luck, and feel free to share any other ideas.