Luckily my kids LOVE the outdoors & we have a huge neighborhood. I think at least half our elementary school come from my neighborhood & it maybe even more then that. My oldest has tons of friends within bike riding distance.
My girls spend a lot of time in our pool. If you don't have a pool, slip 'n slides are a lot of fun. You could also get a sprinkler, water guns, water balloons, etc.
Bike riding & roller blading are other things they enjoy outside. Scooters are a lot of fun, and if you have a boy, well probably girls to can learn to skateboard.
My kids also have a lot of fun having picnics for lunch. Lemonaid stands are another fun way to pass the time, especially on weekends if your neighborhood is having a garage sale.
Summer Reading Programs are a great activity for the summer, and they give kids an incentive to read. Click the link to find the list of 2008 programs!
This year we are starting a Nature Notebook. You can find details here. I also like the girls to do a summer journal. They can write or draw pictures. Our school, does a journal, so it is nothing different for them out of school.
Scrapbook ~ Even if you don't scrapbook, they can be fun for kids. Give them some pics, cardstock, pattern paper & let them go at it. You can find 8.5 x 11 cardstock fairly cheap at Michael's & Joanns, plus it always go on sale!
Arts/Crafts ~ When it is rainy or just too hot to be outside. Do some crafts with your kids. There are tons of great sites with ideas.
- The Crafty Crow ~ This is a great kids blog for arts & crafts
- Junk Creation ~ This blog shows craft made out of, well junk. I think it is geared towards adults, but you can get ideas from it for kids as well.
- Kaboose ~ Great site for crafts ideas, as well tons of other resources.
- Kids Crafts CraftGossip
Beach/Park/Museums ~ Most areas have local things that are inexensive to go to. We are lucky enough to have 2 beaches that are fairly close. A summer beach pass is $20. One of them, the closer one has a great Sprinkler park but yucky water. The other one is a bit farther that has a great beach.
Take your kids to the park. If there isn't a park close by, you can usually use the school parks year round.
A lot of museums/science centers, etc will have special days during the summer that are discounted or possibly even free. We have went to many free activities at the Detroit Science Center. Right now at the library, you can get free passes to many Detroit places like the Art Museum, Cranbrook, Science center, etc. Check to see if a program is like that in your state.
Free or Discounted Movies ~ I know that a lot of movies theaters are doing free or discounted movies. I haven't looked into the lists yet, but I have seen them.
Dance/Gymnastics/Sports/Swim Lessons ~ I honestly can't speak for sports, but I didn't want to not include it. A lot of dance studios offer either summer classe or summer workshops/camps. They are usually discounted, so a great time to see if your child is interested. Our dance studio also offers summer Musical Theater Camps, so this is great for boys as well that aren't interested in actual dance. (It is like Drama class). Gymnastic classes are usually discounted at this time of year as well. You can even sometimes find Free one day classes to give you a chance to try out the Studio/Gymnasium.
Online Games ~ I like my kids outside as much as possible, but there are times that isn't possible. There are so many great online games out there for free. These are nice because they usually teach something as well. Webkinz & Club Penguin are other fun sites for kids.
One other thing I wanted to mention, SNACKS! If you can make some kind of snack area in your kitchen, this will save you some headaches. Set up some kind of guidelines for how many they can have a day/time period & let them get themselves. Otherwise it will be a non-stop Mom can I have a snack. Also, if they are old enough, set up some kind of system for drinks. Maybe make a pitcher of kool-aid that your kids can get to, or even better ice water :)
Remember, the summer is a time to relax. You don't want to overschedule kids, they get that during the fall/winter/spring.
What do you do with your kids in the summer?
Make sure to also read my article on Educational activities during Summer.