Libraries & Lemonade: Keeping Kids Busy in the Summer

When I was about 8 or 9, I wrote, directed, and starred in a play, “The Purple Scarf.”  I cast a bunch of kids from the street and the play- plot long forgotten- was performed twice, to a sell-out crowd of doting relatives.  I’m sure the writing and rehearsing kept me busy for days.

A few days ago, while looking through my hot, dusty attic for some old photographs, I found a tattered cardboard box containing binders of directions and notes, hand-made playing cards, and tins of six-sided dice. “Ugarth” was a role-playing game my son Jacob invented when he was in middle school. The game captivated him and his friends for months. I remember how he tried to convince me to join, offering to create a character for me. I think I felt the rules were too complicated for me to understand and the time required to participate too demanding.

These creative endeavors came to mind as I read two posts about summer activities for kids.   Isaac Morris writes about books. His post about summer library programs reminded me of the many themes the town librarians devised each summer, transforming the children’s room into a pirate ship, or outer space, or a jungle and more. Reading competitions, presentations, puppet shows, and prizes accompanied the themes, and kept my kids happily reading for months.

Roger Colby, a teacher, writer, and father of four, compiled a list of activities  worth checking out.

I’d add two things: lemonade stands


and garage sales.

The mere act of dragging a small table and chairs, making signs, stirring lemonade, and finding paper cups takes time. Then there’s the sitting and selling, making more lemonade, reusing used cups—a fun day!

A friend of mine gives her grandchildren a few dollars each (she has 5 grandchildren all under 12) and they visit neighborhood yard sales. She lets them buy whatever they want to play with while visiting—the goods don’t go home with them and often she watches as they pool their resources to buy something more expensive than what each had.  My sons would scour these sales, (and bulk trash days), looking for discarded appliances to take apart. While their tinkering never lead to any invention worth patenting, they had a wonderful time.

I wrote about children and imaginative play last summer.

There’s lots kids can do that doesn’t cost much and keeps them busy for hours, even days and months.

2 1/2 -year-old grandson loves mowing the lawn.

What do your kids do?

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11 Responses to Libraries & Lemonade: Keeping Kids Busy in the Summer

  1. Isaac Morris says:

    Lisa, It occurred to me that local Muny Theater presentations are always great for kids too! Great post.


  2. I had to think about what my son did and then remembered that it was before we had computer games. John and his friends played soccer and ran through the yard. He went to Y-camp because of our work schedules but weekends were for fun.


  3. SMB says:

    Ohhh, I’m a grown-up who wants to make a lemonade stand! An inspiring post that inspires us to encourage kids to embrace pre-computer fun.


  4. rogerdcolby says:

    Lemonade stands and garage sales are great ideas! I wish we didn’t live in the sticks sometimes. One of the disadvantages of living where I do is that we don’t have access to this kind of thing. I agree with SMB. We need to encourage our children to have fun with things that do not involve computers or video games or television.


  5. If only my kids were little enough for a lemonade stand… and if only they were even willing to mow the lawn: how and when I want! Getting them out of the house is definitely my goal. Love the shot of your grandson! Adorable.


  6. Meryl Baer says:

    I get the grandkids for weeks over the summer. We started gardening, both flowers and vegetables. Planting, weeding, watering – that’s the most fun, best done wearing bathing suits. Picking the fruits (or flowers and veggies) of your labor is also fun. Did you know strawberries taste the very best on top of your favorite ice cream?


  7. Leah says:

    Great post! And since I will have much more time with Sophie this summer, I will definitely check out your post from last year for ideas. We’re excited for summer and are planning to start the summer reading program through the library next week.


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