Best End of Summer Activities for Kids Before School Starts

Enjoy our list of fun things parents can do with their kids before they start up school for the fall, whether they’re in-person or virtual

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The summer days are getting shorter. Your patience for your kids being home for the summer or quarantine might be, too. Let’s be honest: thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 isn’t the summer anyone planned. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a ton of fun, end-of-summer activities for kids. No pandemic can stop you from building amazing memories and starting off the school year on the right note.

For many parents and kids, there are still a lot of questions about what school will look like with the ongoing pandemic. In times of uncertainty, it’s important for parents to encourage kids to find new outlets for joy and relaxation. Below is a list of our top end-of-summer activities for kids that will bring you closer as you prepare for the fall, whether your kids are learning at home or back in a classroom.

1. Sprinklers

Child running through sprinkler

Running through a sprinkler is always a fun summer idea, especially if you can’t go swimming in a pool. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hasn’t found any evidence that recreational waters like public pools can transmit COVID-19. Still, it can be hard to maintain social distancing in a public pool, and you certainly can’t wear a mask underwater. To cool off in the comfort of your own yard, grab a sprinkler and let the kids loose. Better yet, tap into your inner child and run through it, too.

2. Bike riding

2 kids going for a bike ride down a road

Bicycles are back. With the pandemic forcing families to seek more outdoor forms of entertainment, people have been buying up so many bikes that the U.S. is experiencing a bicycle shortage. If you invested in a bicycle company before COVID-19 hit, you might be a genius. If your family already has bicycles, you’re luckier still. Check out these tips from Bicycling magazine on how to bike safely during the pandemic. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water!

3. Hiking 

A family sitting on a mountaintop

Introducing your children to nature can be one of the great joys of parenthood. State parks are a refreshing place to share a fun family day. As you’re hiking, just be sure to wear your disposable or reusable masks and socially distance when you see other people on the trails. You should also bring water and snacks to fuel your hike. We also recommend reviewing the CDC’s guidance on letting kids play on park playgrounds.

4. Camping

A camping tent at night

For many of us, vacations had to be canceled this summer. That can be hard for the whole family, especially kids. If you’ve never tried camping before, now is a great time to give it a shot. You’ll definitely want to bring a first-aid kit and bug spray. We also like this camp kitchen checklist, which includes coffee, oatmeal, pasta and jerky.

5. Board and card games

Kids playing a board game

Board and card games are essential if you’re still mostly staying inside during the pandemic. Even if you’re not, they make for a great evening family activity. Check out our list of 5 Fun Card Games for Kids and Families for some of our favorite games.

6. Ice cream tastings

A hand holding an ice cream cone

Anything can become a tasting flightwine, pancakes and, for kids, ice cream. To cool off on a hot summer day, we recommend buying a couple different pints of ice cream, scooping them into small dishes and asking the whole family what they think and which is their favorite. 

7. Drive-in movies

Drive-in movie food

One of the strange things about being a parent during the pandemic is that you can’t share some of your childhood summer traditions with your kids. Going to the movie theater to see the latest summer blockbuster isn’t possible for many of us. But drive-in movie theaters are the new-but-old alternative. Familiar to our parents and grandparents, they feel fresh to us and make for an exciting night out with the kids. Read up on our 10 Tips for a Great Drive-In Movie Experience to ensure you have everything you need to enjoy this classic experience.

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