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The University of Alabama

UA Matters: Creative Activities to Keep Kids Occupied this Summer

Kelly Avery

Kelly Avery

School is out! What summer activities do you have planned? Have you thought about how you will entertain your child without breaking the bank?

Take this season to teach your child to be resourceful, to be grateful for what your family has and expand his imagination. Summer is the perfect time to be creative and plan activities for children that use inexpensive materials.

With this list, provided by The University of Alabama’s Kelly Avery, you can have fun with your child for free or for just a few dollars.

  • Create a water park in the backyard. Turn on the sprinkler, fill the baby pool, get out the Slip ‘N Slide, and let the children have fun cooling off on a hot day.
  • Make a cardboard box house, and let the children decorate it with paint or markers. They will spend hours in their box house. If you don’t have a big box, build a fort with sheets and blankets instead.
  • Play indoor and table games. Try card games that help kids develop thinking and quick-response skills. Depending on the children’s ages, play Go Fish, Old Maid, Slap Jack, I Doubt It, War, Pig, Concentration, Crazy Eight, Snap, Rolling Stone, etc. If you need to review how to play these games, look on the Internet or get a games book from the library. Be ready for noise and fun! There are dozens of them for all ages: Candy Land, Parcheesi, Chutes and Ladders and, everyone’s favorite, Monopoly. There are strategy games, for example, checkers, chess, Chinese checkers and backgammon. Word games such as Scrabble and Boggle are fun for adults and children. If you don’t have these games in your home, search for them at yard sales or thrift stores.
  • Go on a picnic. A meal is more fun on a blanket in the park, woods or even your backyard. You can stay indoors and have a tea party. Pull out your fancy silver trays or your plates you never use (stick with plastic for toddlers), serve some cookies and treats and get dressed for high tea.
  • Visit the public library. Let your child apply for his own library card. Public libraries often offer free summer reading programs that include movies, workshops, puppet shows, children’s theatre and more. Just check out how-to books so you and your children can learn something new together.

Avery is a curriculum specialist for the Children’s Program at the College of Human Environmental Sciences Child Development Research Center.uamatters_logo-thumb



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UA Matters is a weekly posting that offers information and tips on consumer issues facing Alabamians. The information is available to reprint in your publication free of charge. Also, access to subject matter experts is available upon request. For more information, contact Kim Eaton at 205/348-8325 or>.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.