Summer break is almost over and many parents may be wondering how to turn those last few days of summer into fun family memories. Summer is a great time to get out of the house and enjoy the weather, nature, and your local community as a family. And if you haven’t made as many summer memories as you would have liked – don’t fret, there is still time to get a couple of great summer activities in. Read on for 6 summer activities are sure to be educational and fun for all ages—and green to boot! Try to sneak a couple of these fun, bonding experiences in, before those school bells begin to chime!
- Nature Walk
From hiking trails to beaches, just about every city and town across the US has a beautiful, accessible outdoor park or trail to enjoy. If kids can learn about the wildlife and flora in their environment beforehand and will be excited to spot local birds, animal prints, and native flowers. Because I live in Colorado where hiking in the afternoon and evening means possible run-ins with bears and thunderstorms, my favorite time of day to hit the trail is early morning—though there’s nothing like a balmy, summer evening walk through the neighborhood with my family.
- Visit a Farm
Farms are rich educational resources for kids. Local farms give children the opportunity to learn about where their food comes and witness the amount of land, resources, and effort required to raise livestock and grow and harvest produce. Some farms allow children to meet goats, cows, and bunnies, and many CSA farms invite families to pick or dig their own fruits and veggies.
- Volunteer at a Community Garden
Community gardens have popped up in many cities across the US and allow families to learn about plants and the local ecosystem while connecting with and serving members of their community. Plus, gardening gives kids a much-needed chance to slow down and notice the little things.
- Botanic Gardens
While your local botanic gardens offer beauty and educational information year-round, summer is a great time to bring little ones because most of the flowers will be in full bloom, green plants will be the most lush, and trees will be in flower or fruit. A visit to the botanic gardens is a delightful, relaxing experience for the senses and teaches families about native plants and the environment. Many botanic gardens offer both youth and adult classes, and provide ample outdoor space to sit and enjoy lunch or read a book.
Geocaching is a great activity for little adventurers to get out and explore their community. Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt where participants follow clues and use GPS tracking to find hidden messages, toys, and souvenirs. When a geocache is found, the finder must leave a new object for the next seeker. Kids absolutely love the feeling of connection and excitement they get when they discover a tiny treasure hidden in plain sight in their community. Part of the creators’ mission is to maintain an open and welcoming community and forum for responsible stewardship of our lands—what a great message for kids! I recommend that an adult accompany school-aged kids on this activity since new and unfamiliar parts of your neighborhood or town will be explored.
- DIY Scavenger Hunt
If a high-tech treasure hunt doesn’t appeal to you (or you’d just like a break from your smartphone for a day!), put together your own scavenger hunt. Route an area that you feel safe with your kids exploring and make a list of landmarks—both big and small—to be found. You can get really creative by adding clues or making a story whose plot is revealed as each item on the list is discovered. Scavenger hunts make for a great rainy-day game too—just pick out forgotten or hidden treasures at home!
These are only a handful of the many outdoor activities to enjoy with your family for the rest of the summer (don’t forget your kids’ regularly scheduled sports games and outdoor activities!). What eco-friendly and educational fun has your family enjoyed this summer?