Summer Must-Haves

We’re officially one week into summer over here and we’re starting to find our groove. I always feel a little stressed when summer rolls around, because I’m not great at the whole “no routine” thing. I like a predictable schedule, plenty of time to get my work done, and at least a few hours a day with a quiet house.

And, you know, that’s all out the window for the summer months!

But, I feel like I fall in love with summer all over again every year. I love the slow and lazy days, I love the extra time with my boys, and I love the spontaneous fun we always find ourselves having.

As someone who thrives on routine and structure, I like to go into summer fully prepared with a solid collection of things to keep the kids busy and happy. So, I thought today I’d share a few of my summer must-haves that help guarantee no one loses their minds before the fourth of July.

my top summer must-haves For the kids

collage of summer activities and toys with text overlay that says

1. something educational

That’s right, I’m one of those mean moms that likes to make sure their kids brains stay active all summer long! It’s so easy to fall into the trap of sitting around watching tv all day, but it’s so easy to grab a few things that will be fun and educational for the kids.

Here are a few favorites:

  • Summer Brain Quest: We’ve been buying these workbook every summer since the year before Jackson started kindergarten, and they’re always a huge hit! He thinks they’re a blast to work on, and I love that it’s a fully educational activity that keeps him busy for a few minutes every day. Absolute must-have.
  • Brain Quest Decks: Speaking of Brain Quest – I used to do these little decks when I was a kid, and I love that they’re still around! They’ve got ones for the littles too, so this is what I’ll be grabbing for Grant instead of a workbook. It’s a fun little activity that keeps them busy for a little while, and I like that the boys can work on these together.
  • Puzzles: Nothing better than setting the kids up with a big puzzle and letting them go to town! It’s a great activity for afternoons when it’s too hot to play outside and everyone has had too much tv.
  • A few new books: I’m gonna be kicking off summer break for both kids by taking them to the library to pick out some books! I plan to try to institute a 30-ish-minute reading time with both kiddos every day, and a regularly rotating selection of books from the library helps keep things exciting.

2. Games

Can’t get through summer without some games for the whole family to play! Corey and I haaaate playing a lot of the typical kid games (I’d rather eat a frog than play a round of Candyland), so we like to find some more unique ones.

Here are some we love, for kids of all ages:

  • Sequence: This is one of Jackson’s favorites to play, but it’s fun enough for us that we play it without him sometimes, too!
  • Ticket to Ride: This is a classic, easy-to-learn family game. It says it’s for ages 8+, but I’d say kids as young as 6 can probably get the hang of it!
  • Zingo: It’s Bingo, but with sight words and other educational stuff. Great for everyone (especially when you can just take on the job of caller!)
  • Quirkle: It’s super easy to learn, so even younger kids can play, but it’s got a fair amount of strategy. So, it’s fun for the adults, too!
  • Sushi Go: This was a favorite of ours before we ever introduced Jackson to it – and now it’s a favorite for all of us! It’s a really simple card game where you’re trying to collect the best plate of sushi, and it’s always a huge hit.

If you want more fun game ideas that the kids will love, click here for a ton more!

3. Outdoor Toys

two young boys in front of a rainbow arch sprinkler

Of course, you have to have some outdoor toys for the summer. We have a pool in our neighborhood so I always prioritize a few pool toys and floats, but we also have some backyard favorites if a pool isn’t easily accessible for you.

  • A water table: We got this guy for Grant’s first birthday and it’s still going strong! We’ve talked about upgrading to a bigger version, but the kids still love to play with this on hot days!
  • A giant sprinkler toy: This big rainbow toy is a huge hit every summer. This will be our third year with it and it’s still doing great. I think I’m gonna add this guy to our collection this year, too!
  • Water balloons: We have a big water balloon fight at least once or twice every summer and the kids have the best time! Water balloons are also so much easier than they were when we were kids, which is a huge bonus.
  • A good pool float: It’s a giant pain to lug back and forth to the pool every time, but the kids spend hours playing with it, so it’s always worth it!
  • Chalk: And, of course, summer isn’t complete without a huge bucket of chalk for coloring the driveway, the patio, and anything else that will sit still long enough!

And that’s a few of the things we love to have around this time of year! If you’re still looking for ideas to keep your kids busy, click here for more ideas. I’ve got craft kits, games, pool toys, and more!

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