The summer season may not officially start until June 21st, but for most St. Louis students the school year has already ended. Wondering how to prevent the complaints of boredom that seem to inevitably accompany summer vacation? With this list of great ideas, you can keep your kids entertained and engaged until they head back to school in the fall – and may even have some fun yourself in the process.
1. Free bowling. Did you know that kids can bowl 2 free games every day, all summer long? Learn more and register at www.kidsbowlfree.com.
2. Free summer movies. Several local theaters, including Wherenberg and Regal Cinemas, host free or low-cost summer family movie series. This summer's films include Ice Age 4, Disney's Chimpanzee and The Smurfs.
3. Summer reading clubs. Dive into books and earn fantastic prizes by joining a summer reading club at your local library. At St. Louis Public LIbrary, St. Louis County Library and St. Charles County Library branches, babies, kids, teens, and adults can all participate. Childrens Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden
4. Farm Fridays at Suson Park. On select Fridays throughout the summer, families are invited to Suson Park for barn tours, hayrides, face painting and more.
5. Summer concert series. From Jungle Boogie at the St. Louis Zoo to Whitaker Music Festival at the Botanical Garden to the Summer Concerts in Faust Park, there are lots of free and family-friendly concerts throughout our area. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic, and enjoy a little music under the stars.
6. Science experiments. Outdoor science experiments are a fun and educational way to spend a summer day. If you have a preschooler, check out Mad Science Preschool Fun, a hands-on science workshop for preschoolers at the St. Louis Carousel.
7. Summer camp. It’s not too late to sign your kids up for summer camp. Visit our Summer Camp Guide to discover lots of local options.
8. Quiet boxes. Start your summer by creating “quiet boxes” filled with activities your kids will enjoy -- and can play with quietly by themselves. These are perfect for days when you need a break.
9. Water balloon pinatas. Beat the summer heat in your own backyard with this creative twist on traditional water balloons.
10. Hiking. Enjoy a leisurely hike across the grounds of The World Bird Sanctuary, or take your kids to Powder Valley Nature Center, where they can take a short hike into the forest and listen to a story under the trees at You and Me Under the Canopy.
11. Fireflies. Catching fireflies is a classic way to spend a summer evening. You can also celebrate these living lanterns with an outdoor glow walk and fun flashlight crafts at the Firefly Festival, happening June 5, 12 and 19 at The Butterfly House.
12. Pick-your-own produce. Head to a local farm like Eckert’s and pick the season’s freshest produce right off the vine. Once you're home, bring your kids into the kitchen and have them help you whip up a Strawberry Shortcake or Peach Cobbler.
13. A history lesson. Give your kids a lesson in our local history by driving to Defiance and touring the home where famous frontiersman Daniel Boone spent his final days. (And while you’re in the area, you may want to stop at one of its many wineries. Keep in mind that several have playgrounds.)
14. Food Truck Friday. Bring your lawn chairs to Tower Grove Park and sample some of the tastiest cuisine on the local food truck scene. With so much variety, Food Truck Friday is a great way to encourage picky eaters to try something new.
15. Summer snowball fights. Who says snowballs are only for winter? Mix up a batch of Fluffy Stuff, mold it into snowballs, and choose your favorite target. Word to the wise? Take this one outdoors.
16. Frisbee tic-tac-toe. Buy a cheap shower curtain, use tape to create a tic-tac-toe grid, and then get six Frisbees (in two different colors) and see who has the best aim. Warning: this game is harder than it sounds, and has the potential to last for hours.
17. Do nothing. It may seem counterintuitive to leave your kids to their own devices, but experts agree that boredom is beneficial because it forces children to think creatively and develop their own solutions. So it turns out that sometimes the best way to entertain our kids over summer vacation is not to entertain them at all.
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco
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