Give kids summer nights that glow and days that go, go, go

summer photo of seven young kids laying in the grass smiling and looking up

School is out, days are longer, and bedtime is later! What a great mix for unleashing all kinds of fun. Find a dozen ideas apiece for nighttime, daytime, and rainy day activities.

Light up the night
four photos of nigh time activities for kids in the summer

Give kids great memories of warm summer nights full of squeals and giggles. A blog post for ChildReach, a London, Ontario-based organization, titled, “Benefits of Playing in the Dark,” by NT Morton, notes that “Things that feel completely familiar in the daylight, seem otherworldly and thrilling in the moonlight. Play lets you deliberately experience those feelings of uncertainty and risk in controlled ways.”

Check out these 12 ideas to make the night shine:

1) Take a sound walk to see how many different things you can hear. (This can work any time of day but has a different vibe in the dark!)
2) Shop online for glow-in-the-dark markers and sidewalk chalk and light up the dark with art.
3) Play some flashlight tag, a combination of tag and hide and seek. Shine the beam at the “found” person to tag them.
4) Google “glow-in-the-dark games” for other ideas including glow ring toss, capture the flag, tic tac toe, and more.
5) Attach some little treasures to or wrap them in glow sticks or glow bracelets and stage a scavenger hunt.
6) Catch fireflies, watch them light up, and release them back into the night. (These fascinating bugs are more common in parts of the East, South, and Midwest.)
7) Take a walk in the moonlight. Check this site for moon phase: and Google the name of your community combined with moonrise/moonset times.
8) Watch your favorite movie outdoors. Lots of sites offer tips; PC Mag’s, “How to Create the Perfect Backyard Movie Night on the Cheap” by David Stone, provides fairly detailed info on projectors and projection.
9) Host a slumber party. Lay out blankets and sleeping bags, and make it a family-only adventure or invite kids’ friends.
10) Attend a fair or carnival and marvel at the light show.
11) Watch a sunset at the beach or even across a field.
12) Do some serious stargazing from the backyard or away from city lights. Apple has a free educational and augmented reality app called Star Chart. Use the devices as they describe, “to see a high-tech window into the whole visible universe.”

Fire up adventure-filled days
four photos of day time summer activities for kids

In 2024, June 20 is the first official day of summer and the longest day of the year with as much as 15 ½ hours of daylight in some places. (Check out your area in this article from The Hill by Maddie Rhodes.) Imagine the possibilities!

Here are 12 including some perennial classics:

1) Go for a walk in a park or woods. Before you do, load a point-and-shoot app like iNaturalist to your phone to ID plants and creatures, to be able to answer questions like “Ewww…what’s that?” Users worldwide have uploaded photos to the database, useful for both research and everyday learning.
2) Look for shapes in the clouds.
3) Paint rocks and leave them around your town or neighborhood or along a trail in a park.
4) Organize a park, nature, or nature trail scavenger hunt. Do a bit of scouting and come up with a list of things to find. A few examples might be an ant, a bench, and a mushroom.
5) Run through the sprinklers.
6) Attend a free concert in the park—dancing encouraged. Google free summer concerts in your area.
7) Visit a local farmers’ market. How many fruits and veggies can kids name? How many colors?
8) Go to the zoo. Afterward, have kids write a story about what they saw, heard, and smelled.
9) Pull on swimsuits and visit a splash pad or pool.
10) Play a round or two of miniature golf.
11) Visit a u-pick flower or fruit farm. Share the pickings with a neighbor.
12) Fly a kite.

Add a ray of sunshine to rainy days
four photos of rainy day summer activities for kids

Everything needs watering from time to time; when rain puts a damper on outdoor plans, no worries, just shift the good times indoors.

1) Build an indoor fort with blankets, pillows, and boxes.
2) “Break out your movie collection or use Netflix. Have a movie marathon complete with popcorn. Be sure to get in plenty of snuggles.” (Laureen Miles Brunelli, Parents magazine)
3) Or go to a matinee showing of a movie at a local theater. Save money and get that nothing-quite-like-it, big-screen, Sensurround experience.
4) Make something cool. Maybe turn it into a gift. If short on ideas or supplies, Google “pottery painting.”
5) Visit a children’s museum.
6) Check out the local library (and its calendar of events), and while there, check out a book or two or three.
7) Go bowling.
8) Visit an old-time arcade and see how grandma and grandpa gamed. What’s a pinball machine, anyway?
9) Script and stage a short play, complete with costumes.
10) Make brownies or another treat. When the rain stops, again, share the extras with a neighbor.
11) Color a picture of the day. All gray? Color a picture of a different kind of day.
12) Research an animal online and write and present a report about the critter.

Need further inspiration? Check out Brunelli’s complete Parents magazine list “100 Fun Summer Activities for Kids and Parents,” arranged in nine different categories.

With a little thought and creativity, it’s easy to add simmer to kids’ summer days and nights, come rain or shine.

four young kids silhouetted against summer sunset sky