With more open time, summers can feel long with busy active kids! Boys, especially, can benefit from some guidance and focus for all their energy. Summer is a great time for learning and for doing new things. Never underestimate the power of play! I am always amazed how much the kids have matured, developed and learned over the summer when falls roles around again. Play and work are healthy and impactful ways children can be learning even without formal education time. This is why I’m excited to share with you today these screen free ways we keep our boys busy in the summer! Plus a booklist with some of our favorite series to binge.
Set parameters on screen time
First of all, the easiest way to encourage more screen-free activities for our kids is to set. parameters around screen time. The kids will inevitably ask to play all day if they think the option is available, so we designate certain times and days for screen time, as well as certain requirements they do before it. Games and tv have different rules. We have different boundaries on screen time that the kids can do together and ones that they do alone. This minimizes their default to screen time and naturally encourages them figure out something else to do!
Include them in our projects
Because we homeschool with our 9 children, the summer is our go time to get other projects done. We have an acre of property, so there is always summertime yard work, projects and landscaping to do. Home renovations and updates are also getting cranked out while we have nice weather and a bit more free time. So, one of the ways we keep the boys busy is having them help us. They actually really love working with us, whether it’s shoveling dirt to help landscape or learning alongside us how to paint a wall! Even the 5 year old loves to help any way he can. They learn life skills while also enjoying time with us. It’s a win win! The older boys now have skills that they have been hired by others to use.
Give them jobs to earn extra money
In the same context, we have reoccurring maintenance jobs, as well as project jobs that we pay the boys to do for us. This gives them some fun extra spending money, or an opportunity to save up for something they want to do or purchase. This includes things like deep cleaning inside, helping with projects or landscaping, regular maintenance chores like cleaning out the cars etc. We want to teach them that money is equated with work. They know that we will provide their basic needs and wants, but they learn young to work for the extras.
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Facilitate their interests
Our boys are really into mountain biking and trick biking right now. This is their sport of choice, so we do whatever we can to help them pursue this healthy hobby. Some of the ways we do this, is helping them have the tools they need for repair, find good deals on bikes and parts, and taking them to trails and parks. We’ve also picked up biking as a family activity, which we love! I now have a pull behind trailer for the youngest 2, so we can all bike together. Although I’m not mountain biking, it is still a fun healthy hobby we can all enjoy together.
Learn a new hobby or skill
Summer is a great time to learn a new skill or hobby. When the boys express interest in something we try to help them find opportunities to pursue it as well as fit them with the supplies needed. One of the challenges for hobbies can be the mess they makes, so we try to designate a special day together and also work during the baby’s nap. In our home this can be a simple as learning to bake to welding and knife crafting! Providing tools, as well as the time, space and also permission is what will make it happen.
Give them opportunities to be creative
The boys really just need a bit of time in order for their creativity to be engaged. This is easier to achieve with screen time boundaries in place. Boredom is imagination’s companion. They usually need the one in order for the other to show up. 🙂 So, we make sure that outside of our schedule and routines the boys have plenty of open-ended time to be able to decide for themselves what sounds fun to do. This can be working on hobbies, dress-up role play games, jumping on the trampoline etc. Currently, our boys are into customizing and remaking over old hot wheels and model cars.
Draw or color while listening to a book together
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I am very intentional about rest time during the afternoons. This is a great space of time for the boys to decompress and rest, especially on a hot day. One of the activities we enjoy doing during this time is coloring or drawing while we listen to an audiobook. (See below for some we love!) I setup the paper and coloring supplies at the table and turn on a book, and before you know it, the boys have gathered around to draw. Our favorite website for free coloring pictures is supercoloring. Our boys really enjoy the realistic animal drawings on there, but there are plenty more to choose from. They also enjoy learning how to draw cartoons from Art For Kids Hub. We find many of our audiobooks for free either via Librivox or the Libby app through our local libary.
Spend time outside in nature together
Currently, our favorite way to spend time outside together is biking. Strapping the 2 littles up in the trailer for a ride together is something we can all enjoy. Being outside is the most natural activity I enjoy with our boys. They can literally run free uninhibited, and holler as loud and they want – most of the time. 🙂 We find whatever local trails we can to frequent, or head out to the mountains for a more intense hike.
We also love getting out by the water as much as possible. A quick jaunt down to the river to fish for crawdads and frogs, or out to a lake to cool off. Setting up a slip and slide or sprinkler under the trampoline is another fun activity for a hot day. Giving them space to just be boys is such a valuable part of our summer memory making.
Get them into a great book series
Last, but not least, we seek out a great book series for them to get lost in. This can be hard sometimes, as each child has different reading paces at different ages, as well as preferences. Our local library makes it easier to try something and return for something else if it doesn’t work out. Having a great adventure series to get lost in outside in the shade or on the hammock is a wonderful way to spend a hot day. Some of our favorite series that our kids have loved over the years are listed below.
Middle school lit:
- Keeper of the Lost Cities
- The Chronicles of Narnia
- The Lord of the Rings
- Little Britches
- Farmer Boy and The Long Winter
- The Wingfeather Saga
- 100 cupboards series
Fave Juvenile lit classics
- Where the Red Fern grows
- The Yearling
- Summer of the Monkeys
- Men of Iron
- Robin Hood
- The White Company
I hope these ideas have give you some inspiration for ways to keep your boys happily, creatively and productively engaged this summer! Thanks for being here in my little corner today, as always!