Last Updated March 27th, 2017

60 Non-Candy Ideas To Include In Your Kids’ Easter Baskets

Easter candy is one of my weaknesses. There’s so much fun stuff that you can’t find the rest of the year. When I make up Easter baskets for my family, it’s too easy to have way too much candy involved. Still, I always make sure to include some good non-candy stuff. I know I’ve gotten it right when the kids are more excited by the non-candy items than by the candy.

I do very little Easter theming in my baskets. Having an Easter theme always raises the question of whether things will be used the rest of the year. Sure, they might wear the bunny shirt throughout the year, but then again they might not. I recommend that you aim for things your kids will like regardless of how recent Easter was.

I also avoid the really cheap plasticy stuff. It’s good for a day or so, but most will end up in the trash all too soon. It’s better to get less stuff that is better quality.

1. Geeky Shirts

My kids love geeky shirts, and I have a lot of fun finding new ones for them. Teepublic is my favorite resource, although I sometimes find interesting shirts on Amazon or in local stores.

Think about what your kids like. Mine love Harry Potter, cats, science, computers, Doctor Who, Disney and other such things. It’s pretty easy to find shirts on Teepublic that they’ll love.

Think about what your kids love when considering adding a shirt to their Easter basket. You want something they’ll be ecstatic about, not meh. Consider whether they have fandoms, love sports or something else, and pick out just the right one.

2. Electric Toothbrush

This one only works once in a while. The very first time I gifted my kids with an electric toothbrush was in their Christmas stockings several years ago. It was hilarious, because they seemed happier about those than almost anything else. I figured with all the candy associated with the holiday, a better toothbrush would be a good thing.

If your kids already have electric toothbrushes, disregard this one. It works best on kids who have never or rarely had an electric toothbrush, especially if they’re on the young side. It’s just really funny when it works.

3. Water Balloons

It’s spring, the weather probably isn’t quite right for a water balloon fight, but it’s coming up. I like to encourage outdoor play along with all the treats.

You can get the Bunch O Balloons or just regular water balloons. I snagged a big pack of Bunch O Balloons at Costco early on, because you never know when they’ll disappear from there. Bunch O Balloons don’t hold the water in as well as regular, tied off water balloons, but they are easier to fill up. They do a bit better, in my experience, if you fill them over a bucket with water in it.

If you want to make regular water balloons easier, get a water balloon pumping station or at least a water balloon nozzle for your hose. Make the balloons easier to fill for your own sake.

4. Squirt Gun

If the mess of water balloons is too much, squirt guns may be a better choice to get those kids outside and soaking wet. You can go anywhere from the little cheapy ones that only shoot a short distance, up to the great big Super Soakers. You may need to get one for yourself for self defense.

5. Bubbles

When the kids are little, bubbles are a big hit. If you want to go fancy, get a bubble machine. You’ll get less spillage if you tell the kids not to touch it as they chase the bubbles. Bubble machines are also a huge hit at birthday parties for young kids – they’ll entertain themselves a long time so long as you keep the machine full of bubble mix.

6. Sidewalk Chalk

Encourage your kids’ creativity and get them outside. That’s what’s so great about sidewalk chalk. They get dirty, your sidewalk, patio or driveway will have strange markings on them for a time, but the kids will have had fun.

7. Movies

What movies would your kids love to own? Are they out on Blu-Ray or DVD?

8. Movie Tickets

If there’s something out they really want to go see in the theaters, movie tickets make a great outing, whether it’s a parent and child outing for the younger kids, or a chance to be more independent for an older child or teen.

9. Gift Cards

You know there’s something your kids would love to get using a gift card. It might have to do with iTunes, Xbox, Starbucks or something else entirely, but the right gift card will make any kids happy.

10. Money

We usually put coins inside plastic eggs as a part of the egg hunt. We get rid of the loose change that has built up through the year, the kids get money. Works all around.

11. Books

Think about the books you would like to read to your kids or that they would like to have read to them, depending on their ages. Fiction, non-fiction, comic books – what will make them happy and get them reading.

12. Video Games

Most kids love video games. There’s a limit on how much they should play them, but kids will gladly push those limits. Video games fit very nicely in Easter baskets, of course.

One of my kids’ favorites is Family Game Night 3. I like it because they talk and laugh with each other while playing, rather like they do when playing a real board game.

13. Crayons

If your kids are like mine, they have too many crayons. If yours could use some new ones or you want to do melted crayon art with them, a box of crayons can be a nice addition to the Easter basket.

14. Markers

How fast do your kids go through markers? Hopefully they quickly reach the point where the lids usually go on tight enough. Pick the right type for their ages and likelihood of drawing on the walls.

15. Paints

Paints can be great for any age range if your kids are artistic. Cheap ones for the younger kids, then better quality as they get older.

16. Smencils

My kids’ school sells Smencils regularly in fundraisers. The kids go crazy for them. It’s amazing what a little scent can do for an otherwise plain pencil. They’re also available as colored pencils.

17. Colored Pencils

With the popularity of coloring books for all ages, colored pencils have become very popular. Your basic Crayola colored pencils are good for younger kids, but consider Prismacolor and other higher quality brands as your kids get older.

18. Scissors

A good pair of age appropriate scissors is a great choice for any child. You don’t have to stick with plain scissors if your child likes to get creative with them. Take a look at the paper edger scissors.

19. Glitter Glue

Give your kids the fun of glitter with less mess. The dollar store by us carries glitter glue regularly. The color choice ranges from great to “that’s what’s left,” so buy it when you see the right colors.

20. Glue Gun

As kids get older, a small glue gun can help the do more challenging projects. The dollar store by us carries small glue guns, and they work just fine. This is only for kids who are old enough and responsible enough to handle something that can give a pretty good burn and/or make an awful mess.

21. Modeling Clay

Modeling clay is great for your budding sculptor. Be ready for a mess, and don’t forget to include some tools to make their sculptures even better.

22. Craft Kits

Age appropriate craft kits can be a lot of fun. Watch your local craft store for good sales, especially if you get coupons from their app or in the mail. I once had a combination that gave me a total of about 75% off my entire purchase. I should have bought more, as extra craft kits would have done well for friend birthday presents.

23. Beads

Beads are great for making jewelry or decorations. Include supplies to make jewelry or wire to bend into shapes for decorations.

24. Perler Beads

Perler beads are great fun for kids, although they can be a bit tiring for parents until the kids are old enough to iron their creations on their own. You can find lots of patterns online so that your kids can make lots of things from Perler beads. We once did Minecraft themed creations for a birthday party in Perler beads.

25. Spirograph

There are some nice, small Spirograph kits as well as the bigger sets. Either way, they can be both fun and frustrating.

26. Etch A Sketch

Etch A Sketch is one of the great solutions for letting your child draw without making a mess. Nothing to lose except the whole thing, and easy to carry along.

27. Magnadoodle

When kids are too young to handle an Etch A Sketch well, Magnadoodle type toys work well.

28. Small Musical Instruments

How much noise can you stand? If you’re pretty tolerant of noisy children, consider a small musical instrument such as a harmonica. They’re an easy introduction to music.

29. Mad Libs

Mad Libs are lots of fun once your kids are old enough to understand what nouns, adverbs, verb, adjectives and such are. They have so many books out now. We appealed to my oldest daughter’s geeky side with a Doctor Who Mad Libs last year.

30. Sand Toys

Whether you have a sandbox at home or only play in the sand when you happen to make it to the beach, sand toys are a big hit with younger kids.

31. Stuffed Animals

OK, your kids probably have too many of these. They’ll probably still love any you give to them. If you want to change it up a little, go with a cold virus or other Giant Microbe. It’s fun to play “catch a cold.”

32. Rubik’s Cube

My son has recently become obsessed with Rubik’s Cube and similar toys. You can sometimes find basic cubes (offbrand, of course), at dollar stores. One by us even had a cylinder variety.

33. Play Dough

When your kids are at the play dough age, they almost always want more. It dries up or gets mixed up so easily. There are simple recipes if you want to make your own, but it’s pretty cheap if you just want to buy it.

34. Bath Toys

Bath time is so much more fun with a few bath toys. Just make sure there’s still room for your kid in the tub.

35. Bath Bombs

As kids get older, bath toys just won’t do. A bath bomb on the other hand, may be greeted with delight. You can even make them at home if you like.

36. Card Games

What card games are you missing that your kids might enjoy? They’re a good way to spend more time together as a family.

37. Legos

A small Lego set may fit well in an Easter basket. It’s easy to get too expensive, as Legos add up fast, but sometimes you find that perfect set.

38. Outdoor Games

Take a look at all the outdoor games you can find on Amazon or your local stores. Something is bound to appeal to you without costing a fortune.

39. Jump Rope

A good jump rope isn’t just for jumping rope. Many a child will use one for a tail as well.

40. Bouncy Ball

Cheap yet beloved, your kids may drive you up the wall with bouncy balls, and more up the wall if it gets away down the street. Be sure you have a good place for your kids to play with these.

41. Sports Gear

Do your kids like sports? Which ones? Could they use some more equipment? Even a spare ball can be nice to have.

42. Kite

Kites can be basic and cheap or a bit pricey. Either way they’re fun. I find them at the dollar store sometimes, but other times basic kites can be had for a few dollars.

43. Quadcopter/Drone

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a small quadcopter or drone. Keep it simple and age/skill appropriate. Most kids will be really, really excited to get one. The one in the picture is what my kids have, and it’s a decent little machine. The main problem is that one of the cats thinks it is prey. Then again, she also thinks a fairly big remote control car is prey. The problem may be with the cat. She’s small.

44. RC Car

Remote control anything is usually a big hit with kids.

45. Matchbox Cars

I can’t tell you how many of these were given to my son back when he was obsessed with Matchbox cars. He had a lot of them. Every new one was greeted with delight.

46. Slinky

Slinky is a lot of fun to play with for kids, so the real question comes down to how you, as a parent, feel about untangling them. It will happen. Plastic is usually much easier than metal to untangle.

47. Polished Rocks

I find polished rocks on eBay. Considering the rocks kids will bring home as “treasures,” giving them some rocks that are actually special works really well. I used some once to fill “dragon eggs” for a birthday party. Small ones are good for little kids; older ones may appreciate something big enough to display in a collection on their shelf.

49. Yo-Yo

If your children have ever been to a school assembly where they have the yo-yo people come around, they may well have begged for one already. Once they know that neat tricks can be done with yo-yos, they’re interested.

50. Jewelry

A bit of jewelry is fun to give. Little kids will love just about any brightly colored item you give them, while older ones may have some preferences.

51. Small Plants

If your child likes plants, find something they can keep in their room. You might have to water it for them, but at least you don’t have to clean its litterbox.

52. Gardening Tools & Seeds

For the child who is more interested in gardening, get some basic tools and seeds, and give them a garden space of their own. My youngest is currently growing marigolds from seeds, as they’re her favorite flowers.

53. Fairy Garden Supplies

Fairy gardens are pretty popular, so there are lots of supplies out there to add to a garden.

54. Hair Accessories

Many little girls love having pretty hair accessories. They can be a huge help in keeping their hair out of their face, and possibly a little neater.

55. Nail Polish

Even my oldest daughter, who loathes makeup, will get into the nail polish sometimes. Pick out some fun colors.

56. Chapstick

Chapstick can help with dry lips, plus it’s easy to find flavors or containers kids like. Consider the SPF as well – lips need protection from the sun just like the rest of your skin.

57. Sunglasses

Do your kids lose their sunglasses like mine do? Good quality sunglasses can help your eyes avoid damage from the sun. Don’t go super cheap – make sure those eye will benefit from the sunglasses.

58. Hat

Kids can be tricky about hats. You really have to find one they will want to wear. They are great for protecting the face from the sun, and that’s a good thing with summer coming up. Get the kids started early on the hat habit.

59. Spherification Kit

A spherification kit is going in my kids’ basket this year, or maybe right in front since it’s for the whole family. They’ve been very curious about how those balls at the frozen yogurt shop are made, so I decided it would be fun to give it a go at home.

60. Healthy Snacks

Some healthy snacks are seen as treats by kids. What do yours love that they don’t get too often? Pretzels, raisins, granola bars, freeze dried fruit? There are many good options out there.

Whatever you get for your kids’ Easter baskets, make sure that it’s age and personality appropriate. You want them to be happy with what you buy for them.

Don’t go overboard on the Easter baskets. Make it fun, but what do your kids really need anyhow? I try to lean toward a combination of fun, practical items (the shirts, they’d be disappointed if I skipped the shirts), and things that will get them active or working on a hobby they enjoy.

What did I miss? What do your kids love to find in their Easter baskets that isn’t candy?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated November 23rd, 2016

10 Great Games To Play As A Family

10 Great Games To Play As A Family

Playing board or card games is a good way to get everyone off screens and having fun as a family. It’s a good way to get talking about what everyone has been doing. Weather doesn’t matter, and friends can join in too. Games can build skills or just be for fun.

If it’s too hard to keep people off their phones or tablets, you can add in your own special rules, such as “lose a turn” or other in-game penalty for the person who can’t leave their device alone. Sometimes these rules can be as hard on the parents as the kids.

What you play depends in large part on the age of the players. You wouldn’t play Cards Against Humanity with your kids in elementary school, and you probably wouldn’t make your teenage kids play Chutes n Ladders unless they have a much younger sibling. Here are some general suggestions that we enjoy.

Googly Eyes

All my kids, from my second grader to my teenager, love to play Googly Eyes. You roll the dice and move to a square to see which lenses you use – easy, medium or hard. You draw a card to see what you have to draw, and put on glasses that make it harder to see while you draw. Your teammates have to guess what you’re drawing. If they guess right, you roll and move again. Plenty of silliness ensues, and you get to blame the glasses for how badly you drew.

With younger kids, we sometimes go easy on the timer, or declare that everyone uses the easy lenses in the goggles.


The classics still work. Monopoly can be a little challenging for the youngest kids, but many will enjoy it well enough with some help. If not, give it a couple years and try again. I like the traditional version better than the electronic banking version – I think a part of the game is dealing with the money directly.

Make sure you have plenty of time to play Monopoly. As you probably know, it’s not a short game. We leave it set up overnight sometimes, which is risky with cats in the house.

You can change things up if you buy one of the many Monopoly variations, such as Star Wars or Jurassic World. The basic idea is the same, but the properties are different and there can be new rules.


The only bad part about Sorry is how seriously younger kids can take it sometimes. It can help to make sure that the older kids don’t target the youngest one too often. Don’t ignore the youngest either – they need to learn that it’s all a part of the game to have someone target them with a Sorry card at an inconvenient time. Sorry is great when you want a game that won’t take too long.


Uno is easy enough for even fairly young kids to play, although they won’t get the strategies very well until they’re older. Uno is highly portable, which is why we like to take it camping.

I usually have two decks combined for game play rather than use a single deck. Shuffling is a bit harder, but you don’t have to do it as often and you can have more people in the game.

Give Me The Brain

Give Me The Brain is one of several games my husband picked up during his college years from Cheapass Games. While some of our favorites, such as Bitin’ Off Hedz, are not currently available, some are.

In this game, you are zombies working in a fast food restaurant with one brain to share among you to get things done. It uses cards and a 6 sided die to determine what you’re going to do. You have to finish your work to win, but you need the brain to do that.

Doctor Lucky

Our version. It’s a bit old.

It’s a little complex for young kids, but a lot of fun as they get older.

Kill Doctor Lucky

The goal of Kill Doctor Lucky is clear from its name. You and they other players are competing to see who can kill Doctor Lucky first. The problem is that he is as lucky as his name implies. Once again, this one is best played with older kids, but you’ll have a lot of fun as you do. There will be laughter.


In Quirkle, you make patterns using the color coded blocks to make lines that are the same color or the same shape and earn points. It’s easy enough for ages 6 and up, but fun long past that age. The later part of the game gets complex for younger kids, but you can help them or cut the game short. There’s enough strategy that it won’t bore the adults, always a plus when playing with young children.

Be careful about letting kids play with the squares at other times. That’s how pieces wander off, and you know how hard they are to find later. Not that we’ve dealt with that. Nope. Well, not on this particular game. Might’ve happened to several other games of ours.

Mad Libs

Mad Libs have been around for a very long time and have an incredible number of variations. You can find Mad Libs books for various shows and movies your family enjoys, as well as the traditional ones. As soon as your kids understand what adjectives, adverbs, verb and nouns are, they’ll probably enjoy playing this. There’s also a Mad Libs app if you want it to be even more portable. The basic app is free, but you have to buy story packs. It may involve using a device, but at least it can still be social.

The Game Of Life

My kids love to play The Game Of Life. The careers have changed from what they were when I was a kids, which is a good thing. Some people don’t like the action cards, but it’s fun overall. Expect your kids to roll their eyes if you go all Marvin and say “Life. Don’t talk to me about life,” especially if they get the reference.


Battleship may be for only two people, but it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s nice having a one on one game. We had a little bad luck with our first copy of Battleship – half the ships went missing early, we think due to a younger friend of the kids, but it’s hard to be sure. It’s a nice strategy game that doesn’t take too long to play. As with Monopoly, there is a Star Wars version.

What games do you and your family like to play together?

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated September 21st, 2016

How to Make a Decision About School Volunteering You Feel Good About

How to Make a Decision About School Volunteering You Feel Good About

At this time of year, there’s a lot of pressure for parents to volunteer at their children’s school, especially for moms. It’s easy to feel as though you aren’t doing enough for your child’s school, but at the same time volunteering can take too large chunks out of your time. You need to take a good look at whether volunteering at your child’s school makes sense for you. Then you can make a decision you feel good about.

What Do You Want to Do?

This breaks down into two parts. First, do you even want to volunteer at your child’s school? Second, what would you like to do there if you do volunteer?

Volunteering is so much more fun if you want to be there and you get to do at least some of what you would like to do to help out. You won’t always be able to choose exactly what you do, but you can decide whether you’re volunteering in the classroom, getting active in the PTA, helping out with special events, chaperoning field trips and so forth.

Once you’ve decided to volunteer for a particular thing, you may have to let go of control over what exactly you do. Field trip chaperones, for example, are often assigned to a group of kids and told what they are expected to do for the day.

I have two favorites that I have done through the years with my kids. The first was managing my daughter’s Destination Imagination team. It was stressful at times, but very rewarding. Destination Imagination is a wonderful activity to encourage kids to be more creative and solve problems, and I highly recommend it.

The second is reading with the younger kids. One year I was able to take my then two year old into a room they had set aside for parent who had to volunteer with young siblings along, and then read with first graders who were sent over from their class. It was a big help for the teacher, and really good for my highly social two year old. I usually brought her with a carrot for a snack, which took her a long time to eat. She was known as “the kid with the carrot” for years after.

Does It Fit Into Your Schedule?

Volunteering shouldn’t mess up your routine more than you’re willing to allow it to. If it’s making your life too much more difficult, you may not have found the right fit for you. It may be time to reconsider what you’ve gotten yourself into.

Now, you may not always be able to change your volunteer schedule right away. They need you at the times you have committed to. What you can do is keep in mind which things overwhelmed you or didn’t work with your schedule, and take that into consideration next time.

If a schedule change is all you need, schools are usually quite accommodating to their volunteers, provided you aren’t leaving them in the lurch for an event. They know you’re taking time out of your day, and that it’s not easy to do so.

What Does the School Expect?

Sometimes you don’t have much of a choice as to whether or not you volunteer at your child’s school. My kids’ school, for example, is a charter school and requires a certain amount of volunteering per child enrolled. They have a lot of ways parents can do it, so that even if both parents work outside the home or the child has a single parent, it should not be too hard to get the volunteer hours done.

Many schools have work parents can do at home to complete their volunteer hours – it’s not all done at the school. There may also be hours available after school hours or on weekends. It’s not all in the classroom or working with the kids.

Always remember that unless your children’s school requires it, you do not have to volunteer. It’s a wonderful thing to do for the school, but if it doesn’t work for you, don’t feel too guilty about not volunteering. Keep reading with your kids, helping them with homework as necessary and generally doing what you can to support their academic success the best you can.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated July 11th, 2016

How to Encourage Your Kids to Reach Their Summer Goals

How to Encourage Your Kids to Reach Their Summer Goals

If your kids are like mine, they talk a lot about the things they’d like to do over the summer. Mine have talked for the past couple summers, for example, about building a hovercraft. It hasn’t happened yet. I decided to see what I could do to encourage them. They also have other things they want to make, learn or do.

The method we’re using is pretty simple. First I had them write out the things they want to get done this summer. I’m not talking family vacation stuff – that was a different conversation. I also don’t mean summer academics for the most part. Helping kids remember the stuff they learned in school has its place, but not in excess. Besides, sometimes the things they want to do will take that place up quite nicely.

My oldest daughter wants to be a better artist, learn to play harp, build that hovercraft, start a YouTube channel reviewing her favorite video games and learn to design apps. My son also wants to build a hovercraft and a go cart, learn to solder electronics and he has already finished building his Meccano Meccanoid. My youngest daughter wants to do a lot of crafts and learn to make doll videos.

Now, if we let this summer go like usual, once every week or two they’d remember a project and maybe work on it. Mostly, however, they’d just play together or on computers whenever I’d let them. Nothing much would actually get done toward their goals.

Here’s How We’re Fixing That

The kids and I looked over their goals and made a weekly schedule for each of them. The schedules for the younger two are very flexible. The schedule for my oldest is more strict, but we planned it that way. She wishes she could have a summer job, but isn’t old enough for one, so the things she wants to do which might make money are scheduled to be like a summer job.

All of the kids have a lot of completely free time in their schedules, and I consider this part important. They can work on their projects longer than scheduled if they want or cut the time short, especially for the younger ones. All of the kids are often free to do whatever they want, provided it doesn’t involve staring at a screen.

For the younger kids in particular, they’re also allowed to say when they’d really rather just play that day. The point in the schedule isn’t to force the kids to work on something; it’s to make them remember the things they said they want to do. Most times, they’ll want to do it, and they often work on whatever thing for longer than I put into the schedule.

That the scheduled time is on the short side deliberate on my part. I don’t want them feeling that these things they want to do for fun are burdens. There’s lots of completely free time surrounding the scheduled times, so that it’s easy to spend that extra time on a project that is going well.

Boring things such as chores are also listed on the schedule.

So far, this has worked pretty well. My son had been overwhelmed by the thought of assembling his Meccanoid at first, but once he got going on it, he realized it wasn’t that difficult. I ordered a Snowball microphone for my oldest so she can do her video game reviews. With the right software, she can start that soon.

The kids have taken advantage of the schedule’s flexibility. The day after he finished his robot, my son said he didn’t want to do project time; he just wanted to play with the robot. I told him of course he could – playing with what you made is certainly part of that kind of project. Even if he had wanted to do something else I would have been fine with it. It’s good for kids to just be kids during the summer, after all.

I hope that this whole plan will help my kids to plan their own time better. My goal was to add just a little structure to their days without controlling their activities too much. Unstructured time is very important to children – it helps them learn to make their own decisions and be more creative. The schedule we’re using is more of a reminder of what they said they want to do than a demand from me, and I hope that will be a good thing for them.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 22nd, 2015

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children’s Creativity Over the Summer

6 Ways to Encourage Your Children's Creativity Over the Summer

Everyone admires a child’s creativity. It’s amazing seeing what they come up with, especially when they’re young and utterly uninhibited about expressing themselves. Summer is a great time to encourage your kids to be more creative without the distraction of schoolwork.

1. Encourage them to read.

Reading is a great way to encourage the imagination, whether you’re helping your child learn to read or they’ve long since mastered it. Let your child pick the books he or she enjoys for the summer – time enough for required reading during the school year.

Take advantage of any reading programs in your area that may encourage your child. Many local libraries have summer reading programs. Barnes & Noble has a program this summer (2015) where children can earn a free book by reading 8 books and writing the titles in a reading journal. The free book titles are listed on the reading journal.

2. Encourage them to build.

There are so many ways your children can use their imaginations while building, and so many different toys that make it possible, from the long-popular Legos and K’Nex to programs such as Minecraft. You don’t want your kids to overdo it on the computer all summer, of course, but Minecraft and similar programs offer a great deal of flexibility and much less mess than toys which can be left on the floor.

Also let them come up with their own projects. My older two want to build a hovercraft this summer. I have no idea if they will manage it, but they will be doing the research, figuring out what they need and what it costs, and giving it a try. They’ll also be learning to solder and learning to program a Raspberry Pi. These are all things they’re enthusiastic about, not things they’re being pushed on, so that their summer is fun as well as educational.

3. Encourage them in music.

Learning to play a musical instrument is good for kids in many ways. Let them choose the instrument they’d like to learn if at all possible – my oldest is learning harp, and my youngest wants piano lessons. The middle child is more stubborn – music just doesn’t interest him at all.

Even if they don’t want to learn an instrument, you can encourage their enjoyment by having music play during the day. Turn on something they’ll enjoy – they might sing or dance along.

4. Encourage them to play outside.

It may be hot outside in the summer, but your kids can play outdoors anyhow, just as you probably did. Have drinks and treats available so they can cool down as needed, but get them outside. Encourage them to catch bugs (at least the non-stinging sort), have water fights, climb trees and play with friends. Let them roam the neighborhood as they get old enough.

5. Don’t overschedule them.

Don’t overplan your children’s summer days. Give them time to just be themselves. Classes of various sorts can be good for your kids, but more important is that they have time to do whatever they want.

6. Spend time together as a family.

You don’t have to do anything big, but do things as a family. Have game nights. Watch a movie together. Have a picnic. Go camping. Go on vacation. Have a water balloon fight. Read. Talk about things you’ve done and dreams you have. Big or little, do things together as a family.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.