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Kids playing outside throwing a beach ball.

Summers plans are often made far in advance. They’re filled with camps, vacations, road trips, and activities with family and friends. But this year, it’s possible that your careful plans aren’t panning out.

To help you avoid the inevitable “I’m bored!”, we asked the experts at Life Time Kids for ideas on how to create summer camp experiences at home. While these entertaining and educational games and activities may be intended for kids, the whole family can get in on the fun.

Learn and Play

1. Alphabet Relay

Equipment: Paper, markers/pens, tape (white boards work well as an alternative, too)

Setup: Tape two pieces of paper to a wall. On each paper, list every letter of the alphabet A–Z in a column. Create two even teams of kids and line them up behind each piece of paper.

Game Play: The idea of this challenge is for kids to come up with items that start with each letter following a common theme. For example, if the topic is “fruit,” kids on each team take a turn going up to their piece of paper and writing a fruit next to a letter that the fruit starts with (e.g. strawberry under S or apple under A). After writing their word, they pass the marker to the next person on their team.

Once a letter has been used, it cannot be used again. Once a group uses a specific word (for example, strawberry), the other group cannot use that word on their list. Watch the two lists and let a team know if they used a word that has already been listed. Set a time limit and at the end, the group with the most words wins!

Learning Objective: Communication, cooperation, creative thinking

2. Three-Legged Race

Equipment: Blindfolds or bandanas

Setup: Divide kids into pairs, matching similar height if possible. Have each child stand next to their partner and put their arm around their partner’s waist. Then, tie their inside legs together using a blindfold (creating three legs instead of four). Set up a start and finish line.

Game Play: On the word “go,” kids walk or run as fast as they can to the finish line. It takes practice and teamwork to make two legs work as one. The pair that crosses the finish line first is the winner.

Learning Objective: Effective listening, cooperation, communication, problem solving

3. Beach Ball Relay Race

Equipment: Beach ball for each pair, or balloons

Setup: Have kids divide into pairs and stand back to back with a beach ball between them. Set up a start and finish line.

Rules: On the word “go,” kids work together to hold the beach ball between their backs down as they move toward the finish line. If they drop the ball, they have to pick it up and continue where they stopped. Time each pair and record who is the fastest! Try again where kids hold the beach ball between their sides or elbows.

Learning Objective: Effective listening, cooperation, communication, problem solving

4. Step on Mat

Materials: Lily pads or mats

Setup: In your yard or other large area, set up mats or lily pads between a start and finish line. Divide into teams of two or more.

Rules: Each group will stand in a row, holding each other’s hands and will have to travel from start to finish stepping only on the mats. If anyone steps on the ground, they will have to restart. Time how long it takes each group to get from start to finish.

Learning Objective: Cooperation, leadership, communication

S.T.E.A.M. Experiments

5. Lollipop Lab

Materials: Lollipops, small cups, warm water, Dixie Cups, pipettes

Directions:

  1. Have your child choose a few lollipop combinations to create the best recipe flavors.
  2. Measure out an equal amount of warm water and pour into each container.
  3. Add the lollipops to the containers and watch the water quickly change color.
  4. After a bit, the lollipops will dissolve completely. Discuss why this happens with your kids.
  5. You will be left with some vibrant liquids. Now it’s time to taste test each flavor.
  6. Continue to mix flavors together and write down the best recipe!

6. Dancing Popcorn

Materials: Clear cups/jars, Alka-Seltzer tablets, popcorn kernels, baking soda, vinegar, oil, stop watch

Directions:

  1. Fill one jar halfway with water, one jar with oil, and another with vinegar.
  2. Pour enough popcorn kernels into the jar to cover the bottom in a single layer.
  3. Add an Alka-Seltzer tablet to each jar and observe. You may need to stir the popcorn kernels up a bit to get them to start jumping.
  4. Time how long each set of kernels continues to bounce. Observe which liquid with Alka-Seltzer has the longest lasting dancing popcorn (reaction time) and why that might be.

7. Gum Drop Ferris Wheel (and Bridges)

Materials: Gum drops or mini marshmallows, toothpicks, craft sticks

Directions:

  1. Before the building activity, let your kids experiment and make shapes with gumdrops and toothpicks on their own.
  2. Then, challenge kids to make a Ferris wheel or bridge using the materials. Talk about how strong structures include triangle shapes, while square shapes aren’t as strong. Try creating the biggest Ferris wheel or the tallest bridge possible.

Just for Fun

8. Shaving Cream and Cheese Balls

Materials: Shaving cream, store-bought crunchy cheese ball snacks

Setup: Divide into pairs. One person puts shaving cream on their face and stands about five feet away from their partner.

Game play: On the word “go,” one partner will throw cheese balls at the other partner’s face trying to stick the cheese balls to the shaving cream. At the end of 60 seconds, the pair with the most cheese balls on their face wins!

9. Zoo Keeper

Equipment: Mats

Setup: Place mats kitty corner in your yard or other open space. Have kids stand on the mats. The kids on the mats are animals in a cage at the zoo. Select three other kids to be zoo keepers who start in the middle of space.

Game play: The game starts just as the zoo keepers have finished work for the day — but all the animals have escaped! Choose a specific animal for each round. Kids on the mats have to act like that animal when they are running around and avoiding getting caught by the zoo keepers. The goal is for the zoo keepers to tag and bring back the animals into their cages. Once an animal is back in the cage, they cannot leave until the next round starts.

10. Cats’ Corner

Equipment: Dodgeballs

Setup: Divide players into even teams. Designate a team to be “mice” and have them start in safe spots in each corner of a yard or other open space.

Game play: A dodgeball-style game in which throwers (cats) try to hit runners (mice) with a ball. On your signal, runners must try to make it to a different corner or side of the room without getting hit. The last remaining mouse is the winner!

Emily
Emily Ewen

Emily Ewen is a copywriter and copy editor at Life Time.

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