Summer: a time for relaxation, enjoyment, and sun. To avoid falling into a routine of screen time and screaming, plan ahead for some ideas to keep your family occupied. Lavish vacations and cross country trips are certainly great options, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some ideas right in your very own home? Here is a list of 6 simple things to do with your kids to ensure a summer of sanity for the whole family!

1. Ice Fossils

This is arguably the easiest way to cool off this summer! Add small toys, coins, gems, etc. to ice cube trays of water; either traditional trays or the fancy-shaped version. Freeze and then store in a ziplock bag so that you can 1. Reuse the trays 2. Have something fun on hand whenever the kids get bored. Send your little ones outside with their ice chunks and a few plastic tools and allow them to dig, melt, and break up the ice in order to retrieve the surprises inside!

2. Car/Bike/Scooter Wash

 When you ask your children to clean something, it is an utter tragedy. When they are doing it because it has been presented as “play” then it can be a total hit! Get out some buckets, soap, rags, sponges, towels, and the sprinkler and have your kids grab their dirtiest play things. This is a great activity for a water play date or a big bunch of neighborhood kids to do together. Depending on the ages of your kids, they could also turn it into a full-fledged car wash and make enough money to take you out for ice cream, after!

3. Ice Cream Social

Speaking of ice cream, you can create your own DIY toppings bar at home! Grab some ice cream in a few flavors and then let your kids (you may as well join in the fun too) decide on the toppings and flavor combinations for their very own sundae creations. Think of some classic combinations ahead of time and encourage your kids to come up with some new ones, as well. Maybe one of them will make it big with an invention of the Banana/Peanut Butter/Breakfast Cereal/Jelly Split! Maybe they will end up with a bellyache. Either way it gets them thinking creatively in the kitchen and allows for a sweet treat at the end.

4. Shaving Cream

There are endless ideas for kids to use this accessible ingredient outside of the bathroom! Allow prince and princess loving children a chance to build castles with the foamy white ingredient. Tossing in some small toys makes for an additional layer of good, clean fun! Adding drops of food coloring can be a lesson in color mixing for younger kids and can become a work of art by adding a paint brush and paper. When you add cornstarch and food coloring, shaving cream turns into a workable dough. Swap out the cornstarch for glue and you will have a puffy paint that can be used to decorate a birdhouse or a brother. This is an item you may already have in stock and will be the first time your kids are allowed to just do what they want with it (within reason, of course).

5. Lawn Art

Take advantage of the summer sun and make some art in the backyard. Lay a white sheet or tarp outside on the lawn. Set out containers of paint and paintbrushes and let the kids create a colorful tapestry. Don’t have paintbrushes? Kids can use their hands and feet to create colorful handprints and footprints. Try filling squirt guns with watered down paint and let kids squirt paint on their canvas. Voila! No mess or spills inside your beautiful home.

6. Summer Bucket List

Add all these things (or none, or more) to a family-created Bucket List. The whole family can discuss ideas and each member can add a few to the list. It could be new movies coming out, local parks and playgrounds to visit, your very own donut or ice cream “trail”- the list is endless! Central Ohio is a fantastic backdrop for seeking the innovative, exciting and delicious. Head to a new part of town, a historic restaurant or a contemporary museum all guided by your Bucket List. This is a way to ensure that you are being creative, inclusive, and able to explore during the free summer months.