Summer Fun for School-Age Kids

As I write this the last couple of weeks of school are upon us. I will admit that I always have a mix of emotions on the upcoming summer months. I love putting the morning rush and homework behind us. I enjoy waking up on our own schedule and spending lazy days doing nothing but running through the sprinkler and eating popsicles.

For my kids the novelty of summer vacation tends to dwindle around week two. Then in creeps the bickering, whining, and loud protests of there being “absolutely nothing to do.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really have a problem with my children being bored. The more bored they become the more creative they get. And yes, we do have day camps, swimming lessons, and some family vacations to take. Even so there always ends up being weeks where we have nothing planned, and spending hours at the park just doesn’t have the same appeal for my older kids as it does for my three-year old.

This year I have put together a list of activities I can turn to when my little natives get restless.

KidsSummer_PicStart a family bookclub – Each family member can take turns choosing a book for the whole family to read, then set up a time to meet and discuss the book. Bonus points for having the kids put together a meal or snack to accompany the meeting!

You could also choose one longer book then gather to discuss chapters. Reading a book that has been made into a movie, think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, or Harry Potter, will give everyone an extra incentive to read if there is promise of the film when the book is complete.

Learn a new skill – Summer is a great time for kids to learn a fun new skill or hobby. Take this opportunity to pursue something they are interested in or learn a new skill together. Browse the internet or check out helpful books from the library and master a cooking/baking skill, learn to knit or crochet, write a comic book, learn to code, play chess. The opportunities are endless!

Train for a raceTri 4 Schools offers a variety of fun race events during the summer and early fall months. My boys have participated in the Middleton Triathlon and Haunted Hustle and loved both. The best part is that the entry fees go back into area schools.

Take a museum tour – Most of us are familiar with Madison’s amazing Children’s Museum, but did you know that Madison offers museums featuring dinosaur bones, stunning artwork, history, and science? Here is a list of spots worth checking out:
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Chazen Museum of Art
Geology Museum
Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Madison Science Museum
University of Madison Zoological Museum

Take on a small job – I think it’s important for children to learn the value of money and earning some of their own can be a fun and rewarding experience. If your school-age kids are anything like mine, they are always searching for ways to add some dough to their piggy bank.

Set up the classic summer lemonade stand, help out a friend or family member by caring for their garden while they are on vacation, go along with your older child and play with the neighbor’s toddler while their mom makes a trip to the grocery store. (NOTE: It is best to stick with neighbors and friends you already know. Be sure to accompany your child and help if the job they have taken on requires adult supervision.)

Volunteer – Along with learning the value of money, it’s important for kids to learn the value in giving back. Madison offers several opportunities for older children to volunteer in our community.
Middleton Outreach Ministry
Dane County Humane Society
United Way
Second Harvest Food Bank (Dry Goods Sorting is an opportunity for ages 12+)

We would love to hear your ideas for summer fun!


Jessica is a DONA International trained postpartum doula and owner of Fourth Trimester Madison, She has been married for over 10 years to someone who makes her laugh every day and reminds her not to take herself too seriously. Together they have three children- Logan (2006), Liam (2008) and Kate (2011). She grew up in northern Wisconsin but has called the Madison area home since college. She can be found reading cookbooks but not cooking, saying yes to more volunteer work than she has time for (and loving it), on a Netflix binge, or with her nose in a book.



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