Art Supplies, Science Experiment Books – So Many Ideas to Keep the Kid’s Summer Fun and Productive

Preparing For a Great Summer With Your FamilyIf I let them, my younger boys would whittle away the hours and have little to show for it. They’d dink around, goof off, waste time, and then get bored and pick on each other. My boys are fun and creative, but they still need some sort of structure during their summer days.

This week is our first official week of summer break. June and July will be quite full with church camps, family reunions, swimming, and time with cousins. The month of May is typically our time to play catch up and do some creative learning that we don’t always have time for during our August-April school year. So right now? We’re filling our boys’ days with fun productivity.

You might remember the list I posted a few weeks ago, sharing some fun ideas we plan to use to keep our boys busy:

  • Play card and board games
  • Create more music and videos
  • Play games outside
  • Learn more card tricks
  • Learn more cooking/kitchen skills
  • Get together with friends and cousins
  • Help Dad with home improvement projects
  • Read books (maybe offer a summer reading challenge?)
  • Clean out bedroom, boxing up toys they no longer play with
  • Work through a science experiment book
  • Clean out the basement (who knows what treasures will be discovered!)
  • Learn to make homemade ice cream
  • Swim often and improve water skills (while getting Vitamin D – woot!)

In addition, here are some practical lessons we’re teaching the boys this month:

  • Household chores they haven’t learned yet. Summer break is a great time to focus on teaching cleaning skills like mopping, washing windows, or anything we haven’t taken the time to show them how to do. The boys are, of course, thrilled to learn these skills. :)
  • Outdoor games. The boys received a badminton set for Christmas and can now finally set it up and use it.
  • Music lessons. A couple of my boys have shown interest in learning to play the guitar. I’m going to look into this more seriously this summer.
  • Art. I just found this $40 Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set for just $18.21, and I snatched it up. My boys really do enjoy learning to create art – I just need to take time to sit down with them and work on it.

darice art set

Regarding the science experiment books in the list above, when I mentioned this idea to my boys, they got pretty excited. Now to just find a book that will teach them and be fun. I found the TIME For Kids Big Book of Science Experiments: A step-by-step guide and thought it looked great. Anyone else have good suggestions for this?

time science

What other great ideas do you have for keeping kids learning and productive in the summer?

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  1. Kristi says

    Backyard Ballistics is supposed to be awesomely fun and educational for boys. I’ve heard it recommended numerous times.


  2. Lynnette says

    Hi Laura,
    As an Art teacher I just wanted to let you know, it is worth the trouble and a little bit more money to buy quality art supplies. I have been given art supply sets, and though they are very pretty, they rarely have good quality art materials.
    For the younger set, I would recommend buying a nice set of watercolor paints, tempera paints (or dry tempera in blocks.) Prang and Crayola are very good brands that do not cost too much. For older kiddos, I’d recommend acrylics, which are washable with soap and water while they are still wet, and are permanent when dry. I would not recommend oils unless you have an older child who is seriously interested in art. They are messy, you must use turpentine to clean up, and they take a long time to dry.
    Buy a really good quality set of brushes. The good ones are worth it, as long as you teach your children to properly wash and store them.
    Canvases, canvas paper and watercolor paper can be a bit pricey, but will stand up to painting without pilling or tearing under the pressure of painting.
    Other supplies depend on your interest, but since you buy a lot of things online, I’d look at the Nasco Art supply catalog.
    If you need cool art ideas, drop me a line. I have taught every grade there is, and have lots of neat projects that might spark an interest in your boys.


    Laura Reply:

    Oh bummer, I thought that looked like a decent set. :) Will you be visiting here anytime this summer? We could have an art date!


    Lynnette Reply:

    I’ll be home late June and early July. Have your people call my people (or in this case Mom) and we’ll get together. :)


  3. Sheila H. says

    We have declared this a summer of science too. I am going to start with Elmer’s Glue experiments from the website but that books looks fun too. We have a Crayola art kit and use for drawing. The kids love it and it is free. We did and learned a lot but I did not have the budget for it this year.


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