We are at that point in the summer – bored kids wondering around the house, complaining about having nothing to do and picking fights with anyone who…breathes! So I decided it was time to pull out the Summer Box so that the kids not only had something to do, but they could also do it independently!
Because that’s the beauty of the Summer Box- it provides independent and creative play! As I have said many times before, I don’t believe children who are used to being constantly entertained by screens, activities, classes, practice and even parents, can all of the sudden develop the ability play creatively on their own! I think that sometimes it’s on us, especially because we are partly responsible for creating this situation, to remind children how to use their imagination and find something to do with the items they have on hand. And that’s where the Summer Box comes in!
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The Summer Box
A box or bin
Activity Cards (You can purchase a set of 30 here or make your own)
Supply List (Our digital purchase comes with a very thorough supply list)
Household items (As outlined on the supply list)
Paper Cutter or Scissors
The Summer Box is a box or bin that you fill with enough supplies for an entire summer of play. While you could fill it with miscellaneous household items and crafts and let your kids create their own activities right from the start, I like to include activity cards to give them some structure and guidance to get them started. After years of requests (I originally shared this idea in a blog post 3 years ago), I have finally created my own set of printable Summer Box Activity Cards for you to download!
No longer do you have to compile your favorite activities from various blogs and books as I put together many of the classics all in one place to make it easy! And even better than the 30 activity cards and box labels I created, is the comprehensive supply list that comes with it! I made it simple for you to take the supply list with you to the grocery store (many items are available there!) as well as to see at a glance which supplies you need for which activities. It gives you the option to create a smaller box with less supplies making sure you don’t miss anything! I have set it up so that a parent can take less than half-a-day and create a Summer Box that will help entertain their children all summer long.
To be honest, it will probably take even less time than that to create your Summer Box. All you need to get started is an empty box or bin. If you use my cards and supply list, simply take your list around the house and gather what you need and put in the box. Some items might require a trip to the store and some items won’t go in the box at all (like a carton of a milk!) Any items that don’t fit in the box for whatever reason, I show my children where they are and where I expect them to be returned.
The other thing we go over ahead of time is expectations about behavior and clean-up. These activities are intended for older children, so my expectations are already higher, but since kids aren’t known for their cleaning skills, I also include wipes in the Summer Box and encourage them to do a lot of these activities outside!
One thing to note is that while the cards are aimed at older children, in some cases those children still aren’t mature enough to complete these activities on their own. And the opposite may also be true. You may have younger children who can absolutely create some of these things on their own! You know your child best and it is up to you to read through the cards and make decisions based on appropriateness. I will say one year when I had a younger child and no older sibling available to help him, I hired a Mother’s Helper to come down and do the activities with him and it was worth every penny because I no longer had bored kids, fighting kids or kids who just wanted to be glued to screens or entertained! So get creative if you have to! =)
After you have filled your box with supplies, it’s time to include instructions so your child can play independently! You can put some books in there like I did with my first summer box or you can create your own cards from ideas on Pinterest, blog posts, books, your own head etc. Whatever works for you! Just make sure the instructions are crystal clear so you won’t have kids running to you for help all the time!
If you decide to download the Summer Box Activity Cards from my site, you want to start by going to my online store. After you have purchased and downloaded your files, I recommend printing everything on white cardstock. You can use your home printer or simply send it to a local printer for ease.
Next, use a paper cutter or scissors to cut the cards apart. While it isn’t a requirement, I like to attach my cards together, so next, grab a hole punch and punch a hole in each card (being careful to line the holes up). Last, take a metal ring to attach the cards all together.
Another optional step worth mentioning is to laminate the cards. If you want your cards to really last, cut them out first, laminate them and then use the hole punch and the metal ring to attach them together. Either way, after they are all finished, place the activity cards with all the corresponding supplies in your Summer Box and watch your children’s creativity flourish!
With 30 different activities (plus the option of free play- my kids love just experimenting on their own after awhile), there is lots of fun to be had! I included science “experiments” and lots of STEM activities on the cards, but also games (like a “Snowball” Fight!) and dramatic play activities (like hide a Pirate’s treasure and then make a treasure map for a friend/sibling to find it!) One of my kids’ favorites was the Fizzing Color Mixing Activity we did:
They also loved getting messy with Oobleck (or Glop as some people call it!). It’s an easy way for kids to create their own sensory play as it only requires cornstarch and water. Adding food coloring is optional, but the color does make it a bit more exciting as my kids had a blast mixing it in with their hands!
You can also see lots more of our activity cards in action in this Summer Box video: COMING SOON!
How do your kids spend their summers? Are they good at entertaining themselves?