The start of the school year is on the horizon for many families in the U.S. The summer may be winding down, but before back-to-school preparations swing into gear, take some time to slow down and enjoy each other’s company. There is still time to plan some screen-free family activities before the hustle and bustle of the school year begins.
August is Family Fun Month, so enlist all family members to participate in planning. One idea is to give each family member strips of paper to write down things they would like to do. Put the strips in a jar and take turns drawing an activity.
If you have teenagers, they may grumble and act as though they don’t want to participate, but asking them to create or pick an activity may surprise you. They may like to learn how you make those fabulous Saturday pancakes (with just a touch of cinnamon!) or build a new stone fire pit for the backyard. Encourage them to research places with activities that include younger siblings or allow the family dog. If they have a friend who feels like part of the family, have them come along. This may take your teen from “this is so lame” to “alright, let’s do this!”
If your family is competitive, create teams for different activities. Ask your teen to team up with a younger sibling or have parents versus kids. Have “teams” wear a specific color shirt, or have everyone wear their favorite sports team jersey.
Here are 21 screen-free, indoor and outdoor activities for family fun and celebrate the rest of the summer. To make it more interesting, coincide your activity with its special day on the August calendar.
Do some camping. Set up the tent and spend the night among the stars. Have a picnic dinner, collect lightning bugs, tell some scary stories, or identify constellations. If not courageous enough to sleep outside, bring in the sleeping bags and camp out on the living room floor. This is one night everyone stays up late.
S’mores over a fire. For National S’mores Day on August 10, make a fire pit and enjoy S’mores for dessert. Sing silly camp songs to make the activity complete.
Read outside. National Relaxation Day is August 15. Put the tent back up and put pillows, sleeping bags, and snacks inside for an afternoon of reading.
Get soaked. Set up the slip-and-slideor lawn sprinklers to get cooled off. (Extra points if someone gets the dog to join!) For team play, have fun with super soakers or water balloons (sponges are an excellent environmentally-friendly option).
Bird watching. This activity is best if there is already an established birdfeeder in your yard, with morning or evening as the best time for viewing. Have binoculars handy, along with a guide of the local background birds.
Set up a lemonade stand. National Lemonade Day is August 20. Have the teens help build the stand and let the younger kids run it. Have family members vote on what charity will receive the profits. If you have a neighborhood forum or Facebook group, let neighbors know when the stand will be open for business and what charity is being supported.
Design an obstacle course for the family dog. National Dog Day is August 26. Create a team event if your family has more than one dog. See what team can get their mascot through the course with the fewest distractions.
Create sidewalk art. Divide the driveway or portions of the sidewalk in front of your house and have each family member show off their artistry.
Collect rocks and paint them. Take a walk as a family and find several smooth stones. Get out the paint and make colorful creations. After they dry, covertly deliver them to neighbors as a surprise by placing them in their gardens or on the front step.
Make a summer memories time capsule. Collect photos, write down stories and toss in a few souvenirs to preserve the good times for enjoyment later. Mason jars and shoe boxes make great capsule containers.
In the Kitchen:
Bake a batch of cookies together to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on August 4. Dig out your family’s favorite recipe or visit Very Best Baking for the Original NESTLÉ® TOLLHOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Freeze part of the batch so the kids can look forward to one of their cookies showing up in their lunch box once school starts.
Make homemade popsicles or ice cream for a chilly and enjoyable way to cool off! Visit Good Housekeeping for 28 Easy and Refreshing Popsicle Recipes and AllRecipes for 4 Ways to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Machine.
Do a flip-flop and enjoy breakfast for dinner. National Waffle Day is August 24, and a delicious reason to dig out the waffle maker. Don’t have one? Walmart has a couple for under $20, and even a personal size for about $10. To be daring, change it up with having chicken and waffles.
Set up a build-your-own buffet. Dinner can be more interactive by offering individual size pizzas and letting each family member choose their toppings from a fixings “bar.” Have the family help by gathering and preparing items (cooking meat, shredding cheese, slicing mushrooms). Another idea is a taco bar or even an ice cream sundae bar with all the trimmings!
Turn an everyday dinner into a different experience. For a fancy affair, pull out the cloth napkins and candlesticks for the dinner table. Serve ice water in wine glasses and make a toast before you dine. For a more laid-back event, get out a blanket and have a picnic on the living room floor.
Getting in the Game:
Game Night – Get everyone around the dining room table and play a board game or card game. Play a favorite, learn a new one or share one you played as a kid. Don’t forget to think outside the box and include games like charades.
Karaoke – Try a twist where the parents sing the kids’ favorite hits and the kids sing songs from when the parents were young. There is no need for a Karaoke machine; make a list of songs and search on YouTube for soundtracks with lyrics.
For the Neighborhood:
Bike through the neighborhood. When was the last time the entire family got on bikes and took a spin around your neighborhood? Venture out on a cool evening, taking the time to stop and introduce the family to a neighbor outside you do not know yet.
Collect items for the local food bank. With a constant need at local food banks, collect nonperishables from neighbors to donate. Call the food bank to find out their immediate needs, then use your neighborhood forum or Facebook group to share the information and announce what day your family will pick up items. You may get other families asking to help!
Host a movie night in your driveway. Project a movie on the garage door. Ask other families to join and bring a chair and a drink, and your family provides the popcorn.
Know of some other great screen-free activities?
Post them below in the comments!