I’m technically not a summer person – I prefer the fall, with its cool days and changing leaves. Over here in Vancouver we have grey skies and rain, rain, rain all through the fall. Doesn’t that sound like a great time to just curl up with a book and cup of hot cocoa? *sigh*
But until we get to September, I anticipate the start of fall by doing the exact opposite and spending countless hours outside and soaking in every bit of sunshine I can get (well protected by sunblock, of course!). Little Bear is 2 now, and when he wakes up at 6 AM and sees the sun pouring through our windows, he insists that it is time to play in the backyard! Breakfast? Gosh, no! Change out of your pyjamas? Wouldn’t dream of it! If Little Bear had his way, he would be outside from the moment he woke up until the moment he went down at night! I might be a fall person, but 2 year olds are made for the summer months.
You’ve probably seen those summer bucket lists floating around Pinterest. If you haven’t, they’re basically a list of a million things to fill your time with through the summer months. They’re especially helpful if you have little ones who don’t seem to want you to lounge by the poolside doing nothing all day. I thought it would be a fun idea to create our own, customized for the 2 year old, truck loving sort!
So, in anticipation of the solstice and your 93 days of summer, here are 33 things for you and your 2 year old to do this summer!
1. Camp in your backyard: If your tot is like mine, you know you need to stick to a routine. What better way to see how your kiddo manages camping than by trying it out in the backyard? If it fails miserably, you head indoors. If it’s a success, it’s time to start planning that real camping trip now!
2. Make s’mores!: Yummmm s’mores! Little Bear tried s’mores last year and loved them. Why would he, right? I’m sure he’ll love having them again this summer!
3. Visit the fairy garden at Redwood Park: If you live in the Surrey, Langley, White Rock area, you are probably already familiar with the fairy garden. If you’re not from around here, the fairy garden is a collection of small “doors” decorated to look like fairy doors at the base of some large trees at a local park. Sometimes there is even fairy dust sprinkled on the ground! Recently these were vandalized and removed, but some Good Samaritans have gone there on their own time and installed new fairy doors. These are always fun to visit and since there are new doors, it’ll be a whole new adventure! If you don’t live here, don’t buy your plane ticket just yet! These are super easy to make and set up…even in your own backyard! Stay tuned for a post on making your own fairy doors!
4. Make a rock garden: Super fun and easy to do! Especially if your tot is like Little Bear and constantly collecting rocks! My friend Amy wrote a great post about it here.
5. Go to a local water park: Don’t forget the sunblock, buckets, shovels, and sieve. In fact, never leave home without these items if you have a 2 year old!
6. Paint some custom art for your home: Buy any size canvas you want, tape off the parts you want to stay white, grab some paints and set your toddler free! This activity is best done outside, which is why it’s perfect for the summer months. You also may want this to be a “diaper-only” activity, as the brushes inevitably get forgotten about and they end up working with fingers and toes. We will be doing one this summer for some custom monogram art! They also make great gifts for grandparents, like the one that we made for grandma (“Nani”) for Mother’s Day!
7. Fly a Kite: Make one out of things around the house, buy one and build it together – however you do this, the outcome will be fun! We have a brand new seagull kite that we can’t wait to break in!
8. Blow GIANT bubbles!: While browsing through a local toy shop recently I discovered a product that claimed to give you giant bubbles. I didn’t really believe that it would work, until I saw the owner of the shop using it! She did provide the disclaimer that it takes a bit of practice and it’s not really something a toddler would be able to do, but I don’t think my toddler would care about using this device. He’d be more interested in chasing after the giant bubbles! The product in-store was under $4, but a similar product online retails for quite a bit more, so if you’re interested in this idea, here’s how to DIY it!
9. Go berry picking: It’s that time of year again! The berries are out and taste magnificent! Head to your local farm (check out the no-spray or organic options if you can) and enjoy
teaching your tot about where the food they eat comes from and the growth cycle, all while picking some great berries (and perhaps sampling a few on the way!). If you’re in the Vancouver area, some awesome farms to check out are Krause Berry Farms, Driediger Farms, Emma Lea Farms, and Maan Farms.
10. Make things explode: Well, sort of. Remember the classic volcano science fair project? Well, what 2 year old would not love to see the chemical reaction caused by baking soda and vinegar. There are so many ways to do this one, but for a great version of the activity, check out Raman at Toddler Tales: Developing the Whole Child. Or if you would like to go for a version that is still as fun, but a bit simpler (and can be done inside if you are having a bit of summer rain or need to get out of the heat) check out Creatively Blooming.
11. Make musical instruments: Grab whatever recyclables you have handy: yogurt containers, water bottles, milk jugs, you name it! Throw in some beans or rice and you have instant maracas. For a guitar, grab some elastic band and stretch over a box of Kleenex. Fashion a drum set from wooden spoons and pots and pans. Grab some cardboard rolls (think toilet paper, kitchen towels, or wrapping paper) and you’ve instantly got a trumpet or a flute (with the addition of a few well placed holes).
12. Have a dance party!: Use the instruments you made in #11 and turn on your favourite music and GO! Sing, dance, and use those instruments!
13. Become explorers: grab binoculars, a magnifying glass, some shovels and buckets. Head out to your favourite spot (or even your backyard) and start digging. See what you find! A worm? A spider? Maybe you’ll spot some interesting birds while outside. Spend the entire time getting dirty and talking about what you see and feel while becoming explorers.
14. Have a Teddy Bears’ Picnic: The classic children’s book The Teddy Bears’ Picnic is sweet and simple and if you haven’t read the book to your tot yet, pull it out, grab their favourite teddy bear, and get to reading. Then pack up all sorts of teddy bear food and have your own teddy bear picnic! The teddy bears are invited, of course, and invite some other kids to the picnic with their teddy bears. Go to the library beforehand and sign out some other great bear books: The Very Itchy Bear by Nick Bland, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin (illustrated by Eric Carle) are some bear books that my Little Bear loves reading.
15. Visit a petting zoo: This one is an easy one! All kids love seeing animals up close and it’s a great learning experience. Spend the day naming animals, making animal sounds, and comparing sizes and colours of the different animals. Don’t forget the camera!
16. Visit a fire hall: Contact your local fire hall first to see when their open house is. Most fire halls will have one or two weekends, often in the summer, where they have a family-friendly open house. Also, the fire department will sometimes make “appearances” with a fire engine at some community events. These dates and events are sometimes posted online, but you may need to call your local fire hall to find out more information. This would be lots of fun for any child! In fact, after I finished writing this, a friend told me about a princess event at the local fire hall!
17. Build sandcastles: Cheap, fun, and your tot will be happy doing this for a very, very long time! If you don’t have the buckets and shovels around, a quick trip to almost anywhere will get you fully equipped for under $10. If you are looking to be creative with what you have around the house, you could even make do with yogurt containers as your buckets and spoons as your shovels.
18. Build an ant farm: Step 1. Find the ants. Step 2. Put some dirt and the ants into a jar with air holes poked in the top. Step 3. Watch your ants! Don’t forget to feed the ants every few days too! Note: for a more proper version of an ant farm, go to WikiHow. There are more steps than our version, but Arun and Little Bear have had success with the simpler version so far!
19. Wash your car: This one is completely inspired by Curious George (George and Allie’s Automated Car Wash). In the episode, George and Allie join the Man with the Yellow Hat in an automated car wash and then they build their own for their toy cars. You don’t need to visit an automated car wash to do this with your kiddo – just get your tot to help you with washing your car (you may want to do a bit of a pre-wash depending on how
dirty filthy your car is) and then bring out the toy cars and set up a little car wash assembly line. This could be done with a hose or a sprinkler.
20. Set up a lemonade stand: Summer + lemonade = heaven! Whether or not you decide to actually try to sell the lemonade is up to you, but this activity is a great way to spend the day. Buy the lemons together, let your tot squeeze the lemons and mix in the sugar (sugar is totally optional! Arun and Little Bear often make lemonade that is simply lemons, water, and ice – sometimes there’s no need to give a toddler sugar, right?). When you’re all done, help your toddler out with pouring the lemonade into the cups. If you do decide to sell/give away the lemonade, make the sign together and have your son or daughter set up a little toy cash register if they have one!
21. Visit a construction site: Okay, this may sound insane…take your 2 year old to a construction site?!? Use your judgement here. Not all construction sites are the same. Last week Little Bear rode his bike and Ziggy and I walked a couple of blocks down to a house that is being rebuilt in the neighbourhood. There’s a large grassy patch quite a distance away where we relaxed and watched concrete being poured into the site. While there was noise from the concrete mixer, the noise was minimal for a construction site and the construction workers were friendly and happy to have Little Bear as an audience. (Again, please use your discretion. Make sure the construction workers are aware of your presence, never actually step onto the site, keep a good distance away, and be vigilant of trucks entering or leaving the site. Do not try this on a day where the construction site looks extremely busy and never do this near a busy road.)
22. Make banana splits: Most 2 year olds I know have never had a banana split, so you can choose to go as traditional or untraditional (read: HEALTHY) as you please. Some healthier toppings: nut or seed butters, chia seeds, hemp hearts, unsweetened coconut flakes, cocao nibs, dried or fresh fruit, and coconut cream.
23. Sail into the sunset: Make some origami boats (a.k.a. hats!) and head to a lake (or beach) and have little boat races.
25. Enjoy a free music festival: If you don’t know if there are any in your community, google it or contact a neighbourhood/community association. Live music is a great thing to introduce to your 2 year old, so if they have never seen any music live, do a little digging and find out where your local music festivals will be this summer! If you’re in the Vancouver area, you can enjoy some great performances with the upcoming TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival (check online to see which performances are free) and at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival (children under 12 are free for this event, but adults DO have to buy tickets). Car Free Day Vancouver, Surrey’s Fusion Festival, the Food Cart Fest, and Make Music Vancouver are just some of other city festivals that feature live performances.
26. Watch the planes: Head into your local airport and find a nice grassy area to watch the planes take off and land. Avoid the runway. 😉 Or, if you’re in Vancouver, head to YVR’s Public Observation lounge in the Domestic Terminal and grab a plane spotting guide from inside the airport (details here). For an outdoor spot to view planes at YVR, head to the Larry Berg Flight Path Park (details here).
27. Mmm…butter: Little Bear may have inherited his looks from Arun, but he inherited his love of butter from me! This one isn’t really all about summer, but it is something that I have wanted to do since I first heard about it! It’s as simple as this: 1) Grab some old(ish) cream and a jar, 2) Put the cream into the jar, and 3) Shake and shimmy until you have butter! Voila! That easy! Check out this easy to follow tutorial on Food For My Family.
28. Have a tea party: Tea parties are not just for girls! Little boys can partake in a “little man” party, where they dress up in top hats and bow ties. Check out this super cute version that was featured on Spaceships and Laser Beams. You could also extend the activity by making the hats and bow ties out of cardboard and construction paper. Paper is extremely fashionable. Don’t believe me? Check out this cutie pie!
29. Have a water fight: Grab the water balloons, the mini water guns and the hose and cool off on those scorching summer afternoons! Best of all, this one is sure to burn lots of energy!
30. Visit a local farmer’s market: Nowadays most towns and cities have markets that run throughout summer and are full everything you could imagine, from fresh, local eats to beautiful artwork. Google the one close to you and check out their website first for details about events and musical performances!
31. Work on your hula hooping!
32. Spend a day in a fort that you build together: This could be done indoors or outdoors, but I personally love this activity for the early mornings when Little Bear is ready to run outside and play but I’m still sleepily gulping down my morning coffee. Grab some chairs, blankets, sheets and get to making this fort as big as you want. Set up camp with some books and toys and you’ll be ready to hang out in the fort for a good chunk of time!
33. Go to a fair: The rides, the cotton candy, the excitement…I remember how much fun going to the fair was as a child. Nothing can compare to it! Many fairs have great toddler-friendly rides and entertainment. The Fair at the PNE here in Vancouver is just around the corner. It goes from August 16 to September 1 and has something for everyone. And let’s not get started on the mini doughnuts…
So there you have it! 33 things to do this summer! I hope you try out a couple of these ideas and let me know how it goes for you!
What is on your summer bucket list this year?