Summer Activities

Summer Break is one of the grandest American traditions and sets the American educational system apart from its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere. Summer Break is an exercise in leisure. As Josef Pieper said in his seminal essay Leisure, the Basis of Culture, leisure is nothing less than “one of the foundations of Western culture” (19).

There is increasing evidence—medical, scientific, and anecdotal—that excessive and unsupervised use of screens in children is harmful to their mental, social, and emotional development. At Great Hearts Irving, we can confidently add that the unsupervised use of screens (and especially social media) is equally harmful to children’s moral development as well. This summer, we implore you, do everything you can to avoid plopping your children down in front of the TV, the tablet, or the video game for hours on end. This summer, we encourage you to think about how you can spend your family’s summer in the healthiest way possible. Here are some healthy and wholesome activities we recommend.

Outdoor Activities

Children should spend lots of time outdoors. Everyday bumps, bruises, and scrapes from playing ball in the yard, climbing a tree in the park, or slipping up the hill while on a family hike are a sign of an active, healthy childhood lifestyle. Some ways your family might spend time outdoors this summer include:

  • Having a family cookout
  • Playing catch
  • Planting in the garden (Summer is a great time to plant tomatoes, peppers, beans, berries, cucumbers, squash, and more!)
  • Digging up worms to go fishing
  • Going fishing!
  • Going swimming (ideally in a non-chlorinated body of water)
  • Going to the park
  • Going to the zoo
  • Going to a botanical garden
  • Going on a family hike
  • Collecting rocks, feathers, shells, or other natural things
  • Organizing a neighborhood game of street hockey, stick ball, or kickball
  • Flying kites
  • Riding bikes
  • Climbing trees
  • Building a fort
  • Taking a walk
  • Taking a walk in the rain and splashing in puddles
  • Making a game of hopscotch with sidewalk chalk
  • Learning how to play hopscotch
  • Making and playing a game of foursquare
  • Taking the neighbor’s dog for a walk
  • Reenacting famous battles or duels from history
  • Finding pictures in the clouds
  • Camping out in the backyard
  • Bird-watching
  • Catching insects
  • Gathering leaves to use in identifying types of trees
  • Stargazing

Don’t forget the hats, sunscreen, and mosquito spray! And be sure to drink plenty of water.

Indoor Activities

Texas summers can get very hot, and we’re famous for our summer thunderstorms. When the weather just won’t allow you to be outside, here are some indoor activities you can use to keep your children off screens:

  • Building a blanket fort
  • Playing hide and go seek
  • Going to a museum
  • Playing board games (especially chess)
  • Playing cards
  • Practicing Math facts
  • Skip counting
  • Practicing phonograms
  • Cooking a meal (or making dessert) together
  • Reciting poetry
  • Cleaning and organizing a closet
  • Inviting a friend over to play
  • Inviting a friend over for a sleepover
  • Doing some exercise
  • Painting a picture
  • Doing a jigsaw puzzle
  • Building a model car
  • Building a birdhouse
  • Putting on a play
  • Having a paper airplane competition
  • Working to memorize the states and state capitals
  • Working to memorize the postal abbreviations for the states
  • Telling stories (maybe even ghost stories after dark)
  • Reading books (ideally together)
  • New! Write a letter to the Queen of England
  • New! Write a letter to the President of the United States
  • New! Write a letter to your Senator or Member of Congress
  • New! Find out who your Member of Congress is

For more ideas on great summer activities for kids, we recommend two very new (but very old-fashioned) books: