summer activities…for the whole family

Posted on Friday, May 24th, 2013  |  


jump for joy summer The “lazy” days of Summer don’t have to be lazy at all with a little planning ahead of time! Here are a couple of ideas for keeping your family moving and active this summer…keeping the doldrums far away.


Believe it or not, kids often miss the routine the school year offered when summer gets rolling. Create theme days to keep them from asking “What are we DOING today????” Get creative with your own theme days. To get the wheels turning, we’ve put this list of ideas together for you, keeping you at home some days and out and about other days!

Messy Mondays

The mess doesn’t have to be inside on Messy Mondays. Here are some great ideas for taking the mess outside this summer :

>> Fun with Shaving Cream. This messy craft is easy to clean just by getting out a garden hose. Instead of a cookie sheet, put the shaving cream on a trash bag for super-easy cleaning. Great for little hands and feet!

>> Tie Dye T-Shirts. You can make tie dye t-shirts in your kitchen, but it can be messy so do it outside this summer. Plus, a great tie dyed shirt is perfect for summer wear…and when kids make it themselves, it’s sure to be a favorite!

>> Make a volcano. A volcano is a great science experiment for kids of all ages. The younger ones can watch you make it happen, while older kids learn to follow directions for an exiting outcome! There are a few ways to make a volcano. Check out this page for a few. We really like the Staircase Volcano for an outside activity!

>> Mentos Geyser. This is another great experiment that needs no introduction after it’s wild popularity several years ago. Here’s a link to directions on making it happen. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for a great explanation of the reaction that will help you answer “Why did that happen, Mommy???!!!”

You can also have the kids join us at Gymco North for Messy Mondays from 12pm-4pm every Monday as part of our Summer Day Camp schedule.

Trailhead Tuesday

There are so many great places to go for a hike right in West Michigan area! So, rub on some sun block. Pack some G.O.R.P, some bottles of water, and go off on an expedition. Here are a few suggestions and links for more information :

Blanford Nature Center – NW Grand Rapids

White Pine Trail – Rockford

Calvin College Nature Preserve – SE Grand Rapids

Yankee Springs – Middleville

Rosy Mound Natural Area – Grand Haven

Downtown Riverwalk – Grand Rapids – Follow the Grand River through downtown Grand Rapids!

Seidman Park – Ada

Paul Henry Trail – Ada

Provin Trails – NE Grand Rapids

Water Wednesdays

You know how it goes…the kids see the neighbors sprinklers running on a hot day and it may as well be admission to a waterpark! Be the hero of the neighborhood by regularly holding a Water Wednesday at your house! Water balloons, water guns, water rockets, sprinklers, slip-n-slides, or even a car wash are all good “clean” fun for kids of all ages!

You can also have the kids join us at Gymco South for Water Wednesdays from 12pm-4pm every Monday as part of our Summer Day Camp schedule.

Throwback Thursdays

Take them on an adventure that you remember doing as a child. Talk to them about the “good ol’ days”. They can hardly imagine that we were small people once upon a time…but they love to hear stories about our childhood…and they will love to have you show them too. You remember summer as a child! Take them on an adventure in the woods…look for bugs…catch a butterfly…ride a bike around the neighborhood.  This is a great opportunity to get grandmas and grandpas involved in summer fun too!!!

Field Trip Fridays

You don’t need to be on the move everyday! Designating one day a week for a fun Field Trip keeps everyone happy. Have your children give you ideas and take turns on who chooses Field Trip locations. Here are a few suggestions :

Meijer Gardens Sculpture Park

Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park

John Ball Zoo

The beach!

Binder Park Zoo

Millennium Park…or any other GREAT PARK in Grand Rapids!

…and of course…Open Gym at Gymco!!! (12-1pm)



This is a great way to get kids involved in “planning” their summer. Ask your kids what they want to do this summer. Have them make a list or give you some ideas. Then, get a huge poster board and make the Family Summer Bucket List. As you do each thing on the list, check them or cross them off. By the end of the summer, your kids will have a visual reminder to help them write “What I Did Last Summer” for their first school assignment!

Here are a few ideas for “Bucket” List Items :

>>Set up a Lemonade Stand. Teach your kids to be little entrepreneurs! Have them decorate a poster, create a secret recipe and decide a market value for their product!!! They’re sure to make their first million on the front lawn! — OK well…at least a dollar or two. Teach your child the art of saving their hard-earned dollars, or…consider setting up your stand to raise money for a great cause. Kids love helping others and you’ll find people in the neighborhood love supporting a cause!

>>Plant a Garden. Future green thumbs may be living under your roof! Get them started by buying a tomato plant, or a flower of their choice. Teach them to be responsible by caring for their plant all summer long. Vegetables are great choices, so that children reap the harvest…and get excited about trying new things on their dinner plates.

>>Go Fly a Kite! It’s even more fun if you make the kite yourself. Check out this really neat video and give it a try. If there is no wind they fly pretty well in front of a fan too.

>>Pack a Picnic. Pack a quick lunch (have the kids help!) and go enjoy it at the local park, or even in the back yard for a summer family activity you’ll cross of the bucket list again and again.

>>Pick Fresh Fruit. This is one activity kids just love. One for the mouth…one for the bucket is often how this can go! Be sure to pack water on a hot day as summer fruit is often not in the shade!!! Check out this website for a list of U-Pick Farms in the area.

>>Blow Bubbles. One of the simplest summer family activities that can be the most fun is to make your own bubbles and then sit outside and set them free. Another great idea for Messy Monday’s too!!!

Bubble Recipe

– 1 cup Dawn Liquid (the original blue liquid)

– 10 cups distilled water

– ¼ cup of Glycerin OR the white Karo Syrup (glycerin is best)

Mix everything together gently so you don’t make foam. Once it’s mixed, pour it into a shallow pan big enough for you to dip your choice of  bubble wand.

>>Go to a ballgame. The great American past-time is a fun and exciting way to spend a summer afternoon or evening. Whether it’s the Whitecaps or a trip to Detroit for the Tigers, your kids are sure to soak in all the fun the ballpark has to offer!

If you have any other great ideas, please feel free to share them with us by leaving a comment below! We hope everyone has a safe and FUN summer!!!

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