Summer is just about to end and most of us are getting ready to send our kids back to school. However rather than wind down before classes begin, why not go out with a bang?
We have put together a list of 17 last minute activities and projects to squeeze every last drop out of summer.
1. Floral Crowns
Remember making daisy chains as a kid? Well, we are taking it one step further with this how-to on floral crowns. You can stick to traditional daisies or get creative with other blooming flowers and foliage. Your kids are sure to have a blast playing pretend as woodland fairies or princely charmers on a late summer day.
Once they are done playing, you can hang the crowns up to dry to use another day. Check out this fun tutorial on how to make a sweet floral crown.
2. Garden Herbal Tea
Take a stroll through the garden or buy fresh cut herbs at the farmer’s market to make a tasty herbal tea.
Collect a variety of herbs and throw them into a sun tea or large mason jar to sit in the sun. After a few hours you can taste to see if your garden tea is ready. The longer it sits, the stronger it will taste. Throw in lemon or orange slices for an added zest. This activity teaches your kids different garden herbs and gives them a chance to put different flavors together.
If one combination doesn’t strike their fancy, then try a different one They will love exploring the garden or market and picking out herbs with you. Give it a try! For more ideas and instructions check out this tutorial.
3. Garden Art
There are so many artful activities you can dream up from the garden. We have two for you to try. Check out these adorable nature prints in clay. They are super easy, affordable, and versatile. Use them to decorate your entryway or make necklaces out of them. You can leave them natural or paint details into the prints.
You can also try making plant art or mosaics with your kids. Look what these crafters made using simple plant materials. Create a lively forest scene, a fancy butterfly, or a friendly squirrel from leaves, sticks, pebbles, and seeds that you find in your yard or in a nearby park.
4. Fall Garden Planting
Squeeze one more late season planting in before school starts to grow a garden of fall weather crops. Most of us stick to spring and early summer planting, but did you know there are a handful of crops that will grow into the fall? Here are a few crops you can plant in August for a fall harvest.
Your kids will love planting seeds, gently watering the soil, and watching the progress their seedlings make. Let them help you pick out which seeds they want to plant. You can also have them write about or draw their crops from seedling to harvested produce, so they can see the transformation over time. Don’t forget the most exciting part: Cook all the food you have grown! Kids love to cook, especially if the ingredients came straight out of the garden they grew.
5. Collect & Identify Tree Leaves
Making lead identification cards would be great for autumn, but can be done in late summer too. Go on a nature walk and collect different tree leaves. Bring a bucket to make carrying the leaves easy – and to prevent damaging them. Once you get them home separate the leaves into like piles. Glue them onto paper cards.
If you want, you can use Mod Podge to cover the leaf and paper completely for a nice sheen. Using a tree guide or Fandex field guide, see if your kids can identify the leaves they collected. Once they have matched the name to the leaf and the glue is dry, you can label each card. Now you have your own take-along flashcards! For more instructions, check out this tutorial.
6. Water Balloon Piñata
Seeking the last joys of summer? Then go have some fun in the sun and bring out the water balloons. Obviously, you can go the old fashioned route with a good old water balloon fight, but why not try this creative mom’s water balloon piñata game.
Invite the neighbor kids over, string up a cluster or line of water balloons, and let them go to town whacking away. Play one at a time with a blindfold or line each kid up with his or her own balloon. Let the kids think up their own fun games too! Though you’ll want to be prepared with extra balloons, because the kids will make sure these don’t last very long.
7. Solar S’Mores
S’Mores aren’t just for nighttime bonfires and camping. Try out this food science experiment to make solar s’mores. You should be able to find most of the tools at home easily. Let your kids have fun decorating their boxes with cool designs, or make one to look like an actual oven.
The chocolate will probably start melting quickly, but don’t rush! This mom said it took about 90 minutes to bake their s’mores, so have patience. Maybe play a couple rounds of games or go for a walk. Just make sure your solar oven is away from any animal’s reach.
8. Tracing Shadows
For more fun in the sun, try this fun shadow tracing craft. Best for an early morning or late afternoon activity, your kid can create her/his own special world. Trace toys, blocks, and other fun objects using a paper roll and some markers.
Once the kids are done tracing, let them go wild filling in the scene. What kind of story can they think up from their tracing? What are their images doing? Since this craft keeps them directly in the sun, make sure your kids have a good application of sunscreen, some cool shades, and a sunhat.
Did you know you can make kaleidoscopes at home? Neither did we, until we stumbled across this awesome DIY kaleidoscope project. Explore colors, reflections, symmetry, and light with this science activity.
You probably have most of these supplies at home. For Mylar sheets head to your local hardware store. Using paints or markers, your kids can decorate both the kaleidoscope tube and the patterned disc used to create the images.
Try out some wildly different patterns for best results. Once the kaleidoscopes are built, have your kids describe what they see. Make multiple cardstock discs with different patterns to switch out for new images.
10. Punch Tin Can Lanterns
This is a great craft for older kids. Teach your kids how to safely use a hammer by making punch tin can lanterns. You can either on a piece of paper fit to the can or using a marker and making dotted designs on the can. If you are uneasy about letting your kids wield a hammer, have them make their design and hammer out the holes yourself.
Decorate using markers or paints, add a handle if you like. Come nighttime, set out your lanterns with lit candles to see their effect. If you have a handled lantern, take your kids out on a little night exploration. For more instructions and inspiration, check out this tutorial.
11. DIY Chalkboard
With the end of summer comes the beginning of the school year. So why not use the time to prepare for the year ahead? Follow this DIY chalkboard tutorial to create a fresh space to keep track of life during the busy school year ahead.
It is so easy and super cheap! Find an old frame at a thrift store. Then can decorate the frame or leave it as is. Next you will need to head to a hardware store for some paint primer and chalkboard paint. Hang your finished piece in a common space, keep a tin of chalk close by, and you are ready to start the year with some great organization.
12. Reorganize Their Room
We know reorganizing isn’t always fun, but these projects will get your kid involved and excited about it. Get crafty with these practical storage ideas.
Also what about making this adorable DIY laundry bag! If your kids are young, you might be stuck doing the cutting and sewing, but they can still have tons of fun decorating the canvas with paints. Hopefully, this DIY laundry bag will help them keep their room clean (or at least a little less messy) during the school year.
For experienced DIYers who can figure out this project, try out building this cloud bookshelf to create a dedicated space for your kid’s school supplies and books. Whether you paint a solid color or a whimsical design; let your kid help out. For those who would rather keep it simple, here is a nearly identical cloud bookshelf for purchase.
Lastly, we have a storage idea for the small things too. Although this crafter built this organization rack for headbands, just imagine what else you could hang. Space out the clothespins to meet your needs, and you are ready to roll. Your kids can help with measuring, building, and painting the rack.
13. Yard Sale
In tandem with reorganizing their rooms, have a yard sale with your kid’s help. While you are organizing their rooms, de-clutter the space. What have they outgrown or never wear?
It can sometimes be hard for kids to let go of their things, but if they see you doing it too, they might have an easier time. If they are struggling to let something go, ask how they feel about the item. It can be helpful for them to decide what is actually important to them.
At the yard sale, have your kids set up their own table. They can be in charge of selling their own items. Help them organize things by likeness or category. Help them figure out what their pricing will look like. You can even set up a lemonade stand to throw in some extra fun. The yard sale can help teach your kids business and organizational skills, communication skills, and math. Plus, they will be thrilled to have a little spending money at the end of the day. Check out some more tips on having a successful yard sale here.
14. Make a Summer Scrapbook
Do you have photos and memorabilia from your days of summer fun? Make a scrapbook with your little one to save the memories.
15. DIY Magnets
Need to freshen up your fridge? We have found cute magnets that you can make with your kids. Hang report cards, art, and photos throughout the school year.
Even if you pick your kids up from school or greet them when they come home, it can be fun and practical, for kids to have a key to the house just in case of emergency. Here are two how-tos for keychains that you might have made as a kid.
17. Hammock Time
Send your kids out to enjoy the weather and relax with a book in a cozy hammock. Make a quick run to the library for some last minute summer reads to bring home to the hammock. We love this Cacoon World Bonsai hammock for kids and they will too.
If you’re looking for a hammock the family can enjoy, check out these king-sized Mexican hammocks. They are handwoven and handmade by Mayan communities, and every purchase helps provide a sustainable income for local indigenous families. Just imagine snuggling up with a book and your little babe for some afternoon reading. What a perfect way to end the summer!
So if you are looking to get the most out of the last days of summer, try one of these 17 kid-friendly activities. From crafts to games to activities the whole family can get in on, you’ll be sure to end the season with a bang!