Don’t let the last few weeks of summer be a bore! Help inspire your children’s natural creativity with these fun country-style summer activities
With only a few weeks (or less) left of summer in the south, many parents are starting to hear those dreaded words: “Mom/Dad...I’m bored!”
What’s a parent to do?
On the one hand, experts tell us boredom is an essential character-building experience for children, one that forces them to flex their imaginations and get creative.
On the other hand, children—especially young children—often need some structure and a little help getting started on an activity.
This is where unstructured or semi-unstructured opportunities for play meet both needs: they give kids a starting point while encouraging their creativity and imagination. Add in the inherent opportunity for fun in a country or rural backdrop, and you’ve got a recipe to beat end-of-summer boredom.
Here are 15 fun rural summer activities for kids to ride out the summer.
#15: “Paint” The Barn, Fence Or Farmhouse
This is especially geared to younger children.
Give your children buckets of plain water and paint brushes or small rollers and tell them you need the entire barn or house “painted” with the water.
You can even throw in some water balloons to make “spatter paint”. This will keep toddlers or preschoolers busy for hours.
#14: Inspire Young Naturalists With The iNaturalist app
No, open-ended or unstructured play doesn’t typically involve technology; but this nature-based app will definitely inspire your child’s curiosity and creativity. As we learned in our story on preserving wildlife on your land, iNaturalist is an educational app that helps children and adults identify and record what they find or observe in nature by connecting them with the naturalist community.
Once they enter their findings into the app, they’re shared with scientific data repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, to help scientists learn about what’s happening in your local area.
What can they record and get feedback on? Anything! From a butterfly or bug to trees or even weeds.
Check it out at: https://www.inaturalist.org/.
#13: Make Homemade Faberge Eggs
Have your kids collect some eggs or visit a neighbor to get a dozen.
Next, hollow out the eggs by inserting a needle or safety pin and blowing out the white and yolk.
After that, you can dye the eggs using an Easter egg kit or paint them whatever color paint your children choose. Secure the eggs for painting by placing in an egg cup or putting a bamboo skewer through the shell to make a handle.
Next, provide jewels, glitter, stickers, ribbon, markers, etc. with glue and let your kids create their own masterpiece.
#12: Set Up A Campsite
Living on acreage offers a perfect backdrop to set up a family campsite, and your kids can help or do it all themselves.
Have them start by clearing off a space for the campsite (raking leaves, pulling up brush, choosing a spot for the tent, etc.). Next, they can build a fire pit with rocks, haul over some wood for seats and collect kindling for a fire later on. Then depending on their age, they can either build a primitive shelter out of big branches, etc., set up hammocks or even pitch a tent.
Complete the day with a hot dog roast, s’mores party and fun family camp out.
For more ideas, check out: How to Create a Campsite on Your Land.
#11: Let Them Make Their Own Fishing Flies And Go Fishing
Fly tying definitely takes practice and skill, but it’s a great challenge for teenagers with time on their hands. For example, we were fortunate to feature an award-winner teen fly-tier, Tradd Little, in: Teen Masters the Art of Fly Tying.
To start, help your teens get inspired by checking out the article (Tradd started tying his own flies at age 11!) and visit Tradd’s website for some awesome beginner tutorials and demonstrations.
From there, purchase the supplies they need and leave them alone to get creative. Once they’ve completed a few flies reward them with a fishing day-trip and/or let them loose on your own pond or stream.
#10: Set Up A Dirt and Mud Kitchen
This is so fun for little ones, and all you need is some dirt, water, old aprons, sandbox toys and a few old kitchen tools.
Have your children dig up some dirt and place it in a plastic tote, water table or stand-up sandbox.
Fill a second tote with water.
Set up some sandbox toys and old kitchen tools like muffin tins, Bundt cake pans, silicone molds, etc. and let them get creative.
To make their cakes “set” place them in the freezer or leave them out in the sun.
#9: Host A Slip And Slide Party, Country-Style
What’s a country-style slip and slide party? One where your children make their own slip and slide!
It gives the kids a fun project, plus (as all parents know) store-bought slip and slides tend to wear out after just a couple of uses, whereas homemade slides can last for years.
You will need to provide them with a few materials, like a tarp or heavy-duty plastic, a sprinkler (if you don’t have one), biodegradable baby soap and maybe landscape anchor pins, but that’s as easy as a trip to your local hardware store.
We like this option from Wired.com which involves heavy-duty plastic, pool noodles, peel and stick Velcro and a sprinkler hose or you can browse Pinterest to find one that suits your needs.
Once it’s done, it will make for hours of fun.
#8: Ride Bikes Through The Sprinkler
For a fresh take on sprinkler play, let your kids ride their bikes, trikes or scooters through your sprinkler.
For some reason, this can be even more fun than running through the sprinkler and sparks some fun, healthy competition (just make sure they use appropriate foot ware, helmets, etc.).
#7: Plan A Star Gazing Night
Star gazing is a somewhat forgotten pleasure for most people. But, there’s no place better to enjoy the vast beauty of the universe than out under a big country sky..
All you have to do is put out some blankets or lie out on a trampoline, provide some jars for firefly catching, then sit back and enjoy the stars.
You can also use a stargazing app to make the night more educational...or not.
#6: Have Fun With Hay
A hayloft can be a source of endless fun for country kids. From climbing up hay bales, to building forts and playing hide and seek, the possibilities are endless.
No hayloft? No problem. You can find hay at your local craft store (or from your neighbor) and use it for fun art projects like scarecrow art, wreaths, making brooms, building structures or using hay as a paint brush. Just browse Pinterest for loads of ideas for children of all ages.
#5: Build A Path for Walking Or Biking
This can keep older kids busy for hours. Have them choose a spot where you need a path OR where they would like to have a “secret” path for walking, exploring, biking, etc. then let them build it.
This may involve clearing away brush, digging up grass, laying down mulch or gravel, decorating the path, etc.
#4: Have Them Pack Their Own Picnic
Children in those middle-years (6-10), and even preschoolers are always looking for opportunities to be independent. What better way to foster this than letting them pack their own picnic to enjoy outdoors?
All you have to do it help them plan by asking them what they’d like to make and ensuring the food they need is available and at their level. From there, they can prepare their sandwiches, etc., pack up a picnic basket or backpack and head out on the property for a kids-only picnic lunch.
#3: Set Up A Treepod (no building required)
Treepods are a really cool invention which give kids all the fun and freedom of a treehouse, without hammers, nails, wood, etc.
They’re kind of like a hammock, tent and treehouse in one, they set up in a matter of minutes and your kids will love hiding out in them to play, read, relax, make believe, etc.
To learn more, check out our previous article: “TreePods: Portable Treehouses, No Building Required”.
#2: Set Up Fairy Gardens Around the Property
A fairy garden can be made with pre-bought fairies and accessories, made entirely out of materials found in nature or a combination of both.
For example, you might provide your children with some fairy figurines then let them get creative setting up a home with moss, planting flowers in tea cups, building little fairy homes out of sticks, creating a fairy path with rocks or shells, painting a fairy door on a tree or carving one into a stump, etc.
Once they’re done, make it even more magical by stringing up some sparkling lights around the fairy village...they’ll love it!
#1: Just Kick Them Outside And Let Them Figure It Out
Providing inspiration and open-ended activities are great, but one of the biggest blessings of living on acreage is the safe space it provides for outdoor play.
So, the next time your kids say “I’m bored” don’t be afraid to kick them outside and let them find their own fun!