Connection and entertainment don’t have to leave you venturing far from home, looking for planned events, or hustling to activities. Pandemic summer reminded us of all of the slower ways we can enjoy the season while maintaining the sense of joy and excitement that it holds. We’re holding on to this list to help remind us when we forget about the things that we enjoyed during the pause that events brought to us in summer 2020 because they are still quite worthwhile!
Heading into summer, remember that all situations are what we make of them; model kindness, flexibility, and love for our youngest community members.
Looking for adventures in Wisconsin? We’ve got nearly 300! Visit our Ultimate Summer Bucket List!
Virtual Things to Do
- Take a virtual field trip.
- Host a virtual game night with friends or family! Scavenger hunts, Pictionary, Charades, Battleship, Guess Who and Boggle all translate online pretty easily from the traditional games. House Party is also a fun online game to try.
- Building for Kids Children’s Museum has virtual programs for babies and toddlers to 7+.
- Appleton Parks & Recreation – Here are some of our favorites:
- Activities of the Day: Make Nature Art, Family Relay Races, Virtual Escape Rooms, Make a Gratitude Journal
- Staying Active Tips
- Adults: Core Power Yoga, Fitness Blender, Orange Theory, Silver Sneakers
- Families: Family Deck of Cards Workout, 5 Minute Family Mindfulness Break, Karate Classes
- Kids: Whip Nae Nae Kids Cardio Workout, P.E. with Joe, Dance Classes
- Sports at Home: Soccer, Baseball/softball, basketball, volleyball and tennis exercises and drills.
- Creative Challenges: Drawing videos
- Scavenger Hunts: Nature Scavenger Hunt, Color Hunt, Bird Hunt, Math Scavenger Hunt, Gratitude Scavenger Hunt
- Missions and Challenges: 30 Day Lego Challenge, Reading Challenge, Become a Junior Ranger.
Create Art at Home
- Paint and Hide Kindness Rocks – Add a little color to your day and extra fun to your walks painting rocks to leave for others to discover.
- Create Sharpie tye-dye shirts!
- Catch the summer sun with a beautiful, homemade suncatcher!
- Cool off with these sponge soaker balls.
- Use up some of your mismatched socks and make bubble snakes!
- Channel your inner Picaso and do squirt gun painting.
- Michaels maintains a collection of kids’ classes online! Classes include slime, paint pour, clay pot gnomes, Perler beads, friendship bracelets, and more.
- Start a scrapbook and include notes from friends and family!
- Learn to crochet, knit, or weave on a starter loom. Finger Knitting is a great way to start for kiddos. All you need is yarn and scissors. Keep your yarn from knotting with a shoebox. Turn your chain into a bracelet, necklace, butterfly, bunny, snake, or more.
- Study and practice the art of paper folding with Origami. Start with a fortune teller or dog! Red Ted Art on YouTube has lots of great tutorials.
- Draw! Find a drawing tutorial video on YouTube. Our favorites are Art for Kids Hub and Draw So Cute.
- Send artwork you create at home to a nursing home. Call before to make sure they are accepting cards and art.
Things To Do In Your Driveway
- Encourage and inspire in chalk art. Write inspiring messages at the end of the driveway to spread cheer, positivity, and love to your neighborhood and people passing by.
- Make a chalk obstacle course with spots to jump, spin, balance, and hop. Check out these clever ways to play hopscotch with your preschooler.
- Practice sight words and spelling words! Get your math lesson in with equations – adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, fractions…
- Chalk a bike town. Include all the fun places you want to explore once this has all passed.
- Jump Rope and learn a new rhyme. We found the same plastic jump ropes on amazon and like doing the longer one together.
- Find a story and chalk about it! Chalk by Bill Thomson is about three children who find a bag of magical chalk and quickly discover that their drawings come to life!
Things To Do In Your Backyard
There are lots of ways to make nature as stimulating as the activities kids like to do inside, here are some tips to engage with nature.
- Plan an outdoor picnic. Grab a blanket or get out your picnic table. Pack your lunch in those neglected lunch boxes (and double-check they are cleaned out)! Be super crazy and eat your dessert first!
- Count birds. Download the iBird app and count how many different birds you can see or hear. Madison Audubon is a great resource and includes a FREE Bird Guide for Kids with 27 common birds, described in ways that kids (and adults!) can relate to.
- Create an obstacle course. Down the slide, through your swings, around the house, jumping through hoops and grab a stopwatch for a test on your kids’ agility (and yours)!
- Journal. Grab a notebook, pencil, crayons, colored pencils or markers and journal what you see by writing or drawing.
- Make a fairy garden or toy playground. Gather sticks, rocks, plastic containers, maybe toilet paper rolls! Another variation? What about a lego friend outdoor oasis. Time to dig out all those forgotten little toys and give them new life outside. Kaukauna Public Library and 1,000 Islands Environmental Center hosts an annual Fairy Walk at the end of August with fairy house competition.
- Read on a blanket. Get some extra vitamin D as soon as that ground warms up. If it is warm enough set up in the grass or head to the porch!
- Go camping in your backyard! Try these 10 Kid-Friendly Camping Recipes including Campfire Dessert Burritos, Reese’s PB Smores, Crunchy Bag Tacos, Fruity Campfire Cones, Stuffed French Bread Pizza Hoagie, Hot Iron Ham & Cheese Sammy, Teddy on the Trail Mix, Sunny Morning Bag Omelets. Tight on bonfire space? Try a portable outdoor fire pit!
- Get active! Try Go Noodle or Cosmic Kids Yoga in the backyard.
- Outdoor Movies. Projectors for backyard use are becoming increasingly affordable with many options around the price of two outings to the movie theater. Fences or clotheslines with sheets make great screens as well as the side of the house or garage door. Pop some popcorn and make a cozy spot to enjoy a new or old favorite movie. Participating OWLS libraries are putting together themed binge boxes which are collections of movies like superheroes, vacation, and other fun ideas. Just head to InfoSoup and search “binge box” and put one on hold!
- Plant and tend a garden. Growing food and flowers has lots of benefits. Digging in the dirt is great for our bodies and minds, and offers so many learning opportunities for kids. Why do we need worms? What is that bug and will it harm our plants? How do peas grow, anyway? Find established vegetable plants and gorgeous flowers at 7 Fox Valley Greenhouses that we love.
- Use a metal detector and search for history in your yard. Rent a metal detector from TruValue for about $20/day or watch Marketplace on Facebook for a used one. New ones run between $50 – $200—you can even find waterproof versions.
- Fly a kite. If you don’t live on a busy road there are usually fewer trees here and great for running to get the kit in the air! Check out the kite selection at HobbyTown.
Cool off at Home
- Get out that sprinkler, pool, or just the garden hose! There are so many options from just holding your thumb over the end of the hose to simple small sprinklers, kid-sized sprinklers that even rain from the top, and super fancy run or drive (a bike) through sprinkler systems with soaker buckets! Want to keep it low-tech and venture out? Try one of these Wisconsin beaches.
- Make a homemade Slip N’ Slide! With a tarp, some dish soap, and a garden hose, enjoy an afternoon of slippery fun!
- Have a water balloon fight! Fill up some water balloons, assemble teams, aim and splash! These kits make it easy to fill a lot of balloons fast!
- Build a cool fan tent! Use a thin bed sheet and a box fan to make a cozy but cool hideout and enjoy your favorite book, nap or draw!
- Make one of these Cool Summer Snacks to beat the Wisconsin heat!
How To Make Your Walk More Interesting
- Go on a scavenger hunt. Rainbows, hearts, bears, what can you find? Try a photo scavenger hunt. Find numbers 0-10, or A-Z or of the same color.
- Geocache. Be mindful when touching geocaches and consider gloves and/or using your hand sanitizer.
- Find a mural on your walk. Make sure to snap a picture for your COVID-19 Journal when we look back on this time in history. Check out all of these!
- Counting walk. Count the number of… trees, cars, squirrels, birds, cats, dogs, people, or something you normally see in your neighborhood.
- Chalk a trail. Leave a trail of hearts on your walk for fun little surprises.
- Pick up trash. As the snow is melting lots of garbage is popping up. Teach your kiddos our responsibility to our planet and why it’s important not to litter.
- Freeze walk. Play music and when the music stops freeze or strike a pose.
- Adapt a classic game for a twist on your walk. Red light. Green light. Simon Says. Mother, May I. I-Spy. These classic games can be incorporated into fun walks with kiddos.
- Bring a stuffed animal friend. Everything is more fun with your favorite stuffy or doll when you are little!
- Grab the binoculars. This keeps kids busy and you never know what you’ll run into. Don’t have real ones? Make your little one some pretend ones out of toilet paper rolls, thanks Pinterest.
- Map it. Print or draw a map of your neighborhood for kids to follow. Add landmarks
- Take pictures. Challenge older kiddos with a photo challenge. Or do a photo scavenger hunt.
- At night, look for houses with twinkling lights. Some people are pulling out their holiday (Christmas and Halloween decorations) to spread cheer. And don’t forget a flashlight for extra fun and safety.
- Research your neighborhood’s history. Many neighborhoods have historic buildings, houses and stores. Research their history and see when they were built! The Appleton Historical Society has lots of great resources on their website.
- Bike around. You can get farther to explore more and less likely to touch anything! A friendly reminder to wear your helmet!
- Scoot around on scooters. A friendly reminder to wear your helmet!
- Pick up sticks for a bonfire. Pudgie Revolution has some yummy out-of-the-box ideas… Try Go Nuts for Donuts for a sweet treat!
Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram @govalleykids, #govalleykids or share your pictures with us! Have fun! Get some fresh air! Be well!