Strengthen family ties with 15 creative, easy, and affordable activities this summer even your teens and tweens will enjoy!
Need more ideas? Check out The Ultimate Better Mom Guide to a Fun and Stress-Free Summer With Kids!
15 Creative Summer Activities to Connect with Your Teens & Tweens
With every passing grade and outgrown shoe, we are reminded that we have a dwindling number of summers with our children before they leave the nest. This summer, why not build lasting memories with creative family activities that go beyond lemonade stands and mini-golf? Here are fifteen easy and affordable adventures to add to your calendar:
1. Outdoor Dramas
Hit an open-air amphitheater to take in a show and learn more about local history, such as The Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, Tecumseh in Chillicothe, Ohio, or The Sound of Music in Leavenworth, Washington.
2. Hometown Scavenger Hunt
Dedicate one evening to a family outing around town in search of items or experiences. Find a list online like this one or create one specific to your town or your family’s interests.
3. Family Quote Wall
All families have those one-liners from the past that tie us together with encouragement, wisdom, or hilarity. Find a spot in your home to hang framed quotes to remind your crew of great times and inspire new memories.
4. Build a Monster Blanket Fort
A blanket fort may be ho-hum and overdone for teens or tweens but imagine their surprise when Mom, Dad, or Grandpa join in to create the largest blanket fort in history! For bonus fun, randomly yell, “the floor is lava,” and act accordingly.
5. Volunteer at a Race
Summer is a prime time for road races and triathlons. If participating as a racer isn’t on the table, volunteer as a family to run an aid station or line the course with encouraging signs and cheers.
6. Build Enrichment Toys for Zoo Animals
The animal-lover in your family will love this craft project! Zoos often provide enrichment toys to their animals. It could be as simple as a tire or a cardboard box. Call your local zoo for ideas on what is needed.
7. Modern-day Oregon Trail
Work as a family to collect supplies before a real or imagined road trip out west. Possible items may include maps, snacks, National Park documentaries, and some good audiobooks such as my Montana-based Madison River Romance series.
8. Find a Historical Marker
Learn interesting tidbits of history by hunting down historical markers near you. Search by state and geographic area at hmdb.org.
9. Tour a Food/Candy Factory
Many food manufacturers like Hammond’s Candy Factory in Denver, Colorado, and Fairfield, California’s Jelly Belly factory, offer kid-friendly tours (and free samples) at their production facility.
10. Join a Subscription Box Club
Sign up to receive monthly activities such as maker crafts (i.e. MakeCrate) or mail-based mysteries to solve as a family (i.e. Dear Holmes). Save money by developing your own!
11. Explore Caverns
At least forty-one states have underground caves and caverns to bring your kids’ science book to life!
12. Patriotic Chalk Drawings
Sidewalk chalk and permission are all you’ll need to color the sidewalks red, white, and blue in a senior living community on Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.
13. Create Your Own “Family Olympics”
Kids will have a blast making up sporty or goofy events for the family to celebrate the Summer Olympics.
14. Build a Little Free Library
Make books more accessible by building a little free library for your yard or town. Find free plans at https://littlefreelibrary.org/
15. Design a Board Game
Adapt an existing board game like Monopoly to include family memories or design a board game from scratch around your family’s shared interests. Find guidance and instructions here.
There you have it! Fifteen creative ways to spend time with your teens and tweens this summer! Share your family’s summer activities on social media using #lovewanderread, and I may feature you in future articles.
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Janine Rosche is a family life educator at the University of Colorado and senior editor at The Love | Wander | Read Journal, a free digital magazine available at www.JanineRosche.com. She is also the author of the inspirational Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon series from Penguin Random House. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades. Chat with her on Facebook and Instagram for more family life inspiration!