100+ Days of Summer Fun!

Despite all the uncertainties in our world these days, there is one thing we can be certain of: Our kids need to play! And, no, summer has NOT been cancelled! Sure, summer will look a bit different this year, but there’s still plenty of family fun to be found. Whether you’re seeking at-home activities or safe adventures away from home, find something for everyone with these 100+ ideas for summer fun!

Pick berries. Bring summer home in a bucket of berries. August is the prime time for picking blueberries. Hot spots include Chugach State Park, Denali National Park, Denali State Park, Chena River State Recreation Area, even just around Anchorage, such as Flattop Mountain Trail. Or, check out pickyourown.org/AK.htm to find a farm near you.

Master a new skill together. Learn to juggle, paint, play guitar, do the hula hoop, etc.

See wildlife up close at the 200-acre Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. Bring your cameras and binoculars to catch these animals displaying their natural, “wild” behaviors. (alaskawildlife.org)


Hit the trails.
Lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails for a day of fun family adventure. Check out these kid-friendly favorites at alaskaparent.com/_pages/summer_fun/hit_the_trails.

Build and fly a kite.

Play charades. Cut out five pieces of paper for each person and have everyone write out a person, place or thing on each. Then, put them in a bowl and let the fun start.

Create a wind chime made from driftwood, rocks and shells found on local beaches.

Check out an audiobook from a local library for your family to enjoy together.

Turn the backyard into a water park. Fill up spray bottles and plastic bowls with water balloons and get squirtin’ and splashin’ away. Make your own slip ’n slide with plastic sheeting, hose it down and start sliding. (Get a DIY Slip ‘N Slide Tutorial here.

Go disc golfing. If you’d rather fling than swing, disc golf might be your game. Hilltop Ski Area (hilltopskiarea.org/discgolf) has a 9-hole course intended for kids as well as a full 18-hole course. For a list of Alaska courses, visit discgolfscene.com/courses/alaska.

Record an “I love you” video for the grandparents.

Teach your kids the most popular card games. Keep a weekly tournament going throughout the summer.

Bee kind to your local pollinators

Pollinators play an important role in our ecosystem. Most flowering plants depend on pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. These hard workers help spread pollen grains, making a garden healthier, more productive and more beautiful. In Alaska, our pollinators include at least 95 bee species and 75 butterfly species, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Here are some summertime activities to help them out!

1. Provide pollinators a space in your backyard where they can stop and rest awhile – or even enjoy a new home! Build a “bee condo” that encourages solitary bees to take up residence and pollinate your garden. Get the instructions here: fs.fed.us/wildflowers/kids/activities/beebox.shtm

2. When planning your summer garden, consider adding pollinator-friendly plants like daisies, nasturtiums, fireweed, fuchsia, honeysuckle, bee balm and sage. Find more information on building a pollinator-friendly garden at: alaskahomemag.com/_pages/outdoor/pollinator_garden

3. Become a pollinator scientist! Observe a flowering plant in your backyard or neighborhood and count the pollinators that visit. Collect your data on a tally chart (type of insect, description, picture and number counted). Which ones visited the most? And the least?

4. Kids will have fun learning about Alaska’s pollinators with these coloring and activity books:

a. Soldotna teenager Anna DeVolld created a pollinator project and is helping to educate students and community members about the importance of pollinators. Download her fun and educational Pollinator Activity Book here: pollinators.devolld.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Activity-Book.pdf Read more about Anna on page 18.

b. Download the US Fish & Wildlife’s Pollinators of Alaska Coloring Book at: nps.gov/dena/learn/nature/upload/DENA-pollinator-coloring-pages.pdf

Craft a homemade bird feeder, then categorize and count the birds you see visit it.

Create graffiti chalk art with messages of hope on your sidewalk or driveway.

Create baking soda and vinegar art. Fill a shallow pan or plate with baking soda. Add food coloring to vinegar, and let your kids drip vinegar onto the baking soda. It’ll bubble and change, and kids will get a kick out of their creations.

Take the plunge. Sign up the kids for swimming lessons – it’s an awesome skill every kid should have. Check out your community pool for lessons, or local YMCA (ymcaalaska.org) or Alaska Club (thealaskaclub.com).

 

Visit your favorite local farmers market and make a feast out of your fresh finds. Repeat weekly. For a list of Alaska farmers markets, visit alaskafarmersmarkets.org/market-directory.

Bake and decorate cookies or cupcakes.

Declare a Challenge Day. How fast can you run down the street? Who can find the best hiding spot? How many jumping jacks can you do? How many books or chapters can you read today?

Ask the grandparents 20 questions. (alaskaparent.com/_pages/articles/grand_relationships)

Make indoor tents and reading caves. Include flashlights, snacks, books and pillows.

Make nature bracelets. Wrap a piece of duct tape around your wrist with the sticky side up. Take a walk around the neighborhood and stick leaves, small pebbles, sticks, and other treasures onto your bracelet.

Have a paper airplane flying contest.

Pick a favorite animal and research it. Create a fact sheet about it.

Make a sensory tub. Place rice (or beans, oatmeal, etc.) in a box, bucket, bowl or small plastic pool. Add spoons, cups, funnels and anything else to make the experience fun, and let your kids get to work.

Watch these livestreams of real wildlife from Alaska. (adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=viewing.webcams)

For an absolutely free – and fun – family outing, head to Thunderbird Falls in Chugach State Park. The one-mile trail is suited for small children (and even strollers) and leads to a roaring waterfall. There’s a viewing platform and boardwalks.

Take the dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, volunteer to walk your neighbor’s dog.

Use your imagination to envision pictures in the clouds as they drift by.

Turn muffin liners into cute flowers. Cut out large paper flowers and use different-patterned muffin liners as the center of the flower. Create a summer field on your wall. (For a tutorial: onelittleproject.com/simple-cupcake-liner-flowers.)

Decorate T-shirts. You’ll need two plain white 50/50 polyester-cotton tees (less shrinkage), fabric paint, brushes, fabric glue, and glitter, rhinestones or other embellishments.

Start an online blog. Learn about kid blogging here: alaskaparent.com/_pages/articles/kid_blogging.

Make your own MadLibs. Take turns writing out your own MadLibs, and when you’re done, have someone else in your family fill in the blanks. (madlibs.com)

Pick new areas of town to go for walks each week.

Join a summer reading program. Alaska’s public libraries will be sponsoring statewide summer reading programs for kids, teens and adults. Stop in at any library branch or check out your local library’s website for more details.

Help clean up your favorite park. Recycle as much trash as you can.

Build a sandcastle.

Make an erupting volcano

By Tiffany Doerr Guerzon

What could be more fun on a lazy day than helping kids construct their own erupting (!) volcano? This one is made of clay and the eruption is created with a vinegar/baking soda reaction.

Supplies needed:

  • Air dry clay (about 1 lb)
  • Small glass candle holder (these small glass cups used for votives can often be found at dollar stores)
  • Tempura or acrylic paint (one color for the volcano, plus red, yellow and orange to represent lava)
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Baking dish (disposable aluminum baking dishes work well for this project)
  • Red liquid food color

Instructions: Build your volcano inside the baking dish so that you don’t have to move it later. Place the glass votive holder in the center of your baking dish and then mold the clay around the glass votive holder in a mountain shape, leaving the center open. Paint with acrylic paints if desired. Allow to dry; this clay is thick so it will probably take two to three days. I recommend painting the clay right after molding because it saves a step!

To erupt the volcano: Add 1/4 cup baking soda to the glass cup inside the volcano. Add a few drops of red food color to 1/2 cup vinegar and mix. Pour a little of the colored vinegar into the glass cup and watch it erupt! When the fizzing dies down, add more vinegar. This amount is enough for four or five eruptions.

Remember to save your volcano to use again later!

Go camping.

Get the scoop. July is National Ice Cream Month – a great excuse to eat ice cream. Grab a cheap soft-serve cone on the fly. Or make your own ice cream – in a bag! It’s a great activity for the kids. Get the recipe here.

Create an obstacle course in the backyard and let the kids race.

Visit some of Alaska’s lakes. Go for a swim at Goose Lake, kayak on Eklutna Lake, jet ski on Big Lake, canoe and camp at Nancy Lake or picnic at Lake Hood and watch the planes take off at the world’s largest and busiest floatplane harbor.

Work on a puzzle together. For extra fun, have kids create their own by gluing an art creation to a piece of cardboard and cutting it out into puzzle shapes.

Go on an A-Z nature scavenger hunt by trying to spot a natural element for every letter of the alphabet (such as “Animal tracks,” “Bird,” “Cloud,” etc.).

Have a water bucket relay.

Go to summer camp. Check out the Camp Guide at AlaskaParent.com

Play a “classic” outdoor game. Teach kids the joys of capture the flag, hopscotch and jump rope.

Pitch a tent in the backyard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows if you have a fire pit (or on the grill).

See paragliders off the mountain in Girdwood near Alyeska Resort. June through September, paragliders soar from 10 am-10 pm. Other paragliding hot spots include Kincaid Park, Hatcher Pass in the Mat-Su Valley and Harding Lake, Fairbanks.

Make food to share. Cook or bake for your neighborhood’s first responders or essential workers.

Create a photo scrapbook of all your fun summer adventures together. Let your kids write the captions.

Tend a garden. Together with your child, cultivate containers of herbs, tomatoes or peppers. Take a photo each day to track the progress of the plant’s growth. Have your child put the photos in order in a journal and write down any observations. Together, prepare a meal using your child’s homegrown produce.

Collect rocks and paint them. Turn them into pet rocks, garden ornaments, or gifts for family members.

Make the kids LOL with 30+ hilarious jokes. (alaskaparent.com/_pages/articles/thirty_jokes_for_kids)

Volunteer as a family. So many options to choose from, but find one your entire family is passionate about!

Play croquet or bocce ball in your backyard.

Adopt a new pet. Check the local rescues and shelters to find that special friend. (alaskaspca.org)

Plant a tree.

Duffels of discovery. While visiting the Botanical Gardens, kids ages 4-9 can check out a Discovery Duffel bag, crammed full of kids’ activities and books aimed at elevating the garden experience from “cool” to “amazing.” (alaskabg.org)

Write and illustrate a comic book. Make it a group effort or let everyone do their own.

Color a mug or plate with permanent marker and then bake for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. (Use a microwavable mug.)

Hammock Day. Yep, there’s a date for that: July 22. Whether it’s the real deal or a lounge chair, do some hardcore outdoor loafing.

Adopt an elderly neighbor and take care of his/her lawn all summer.

Pet and feed the reindeer at the Reindeer Farm. (You will also get up close to Dolly the Bison, hand feed elk, pet and hold bunnies, and look for eggs in the chicken coop!) (reindeerfarm.com)

Get up close and personal with some incredible marine animals at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. (alaskasealife.org)

Visit a museum. From art and history to science and creative play, there are a variety of interesting museums with hands-on exhibits geared toward kids, like the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Aviation Museum, Fairbanks Childrens Museum, and Museum of the North (shown at left).

Pack a picnic to enjoy at your favorite local park.

Make play dough. In a pan, mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 cup salt, 2 Tbs vegetable oil, 1 Tbs cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity). Cook over a low heat until formed and not too sticky. Knead in some food coloring (liquid, powder or unsweetened drink mix) and scented oils.

Have a bubble blowing contest.

Zoo knew? The Alaska Zoo offers extensive summer family activities, including live music on the zoo lawn, Fridays at 7 pm, and wildlife talks on Tuesdays at 7 pm. (alaskazoo.org)

Can’t get to Brooks River to view the bears? Watch them on the Bearcam! July is the best time to see them fishing at Brooks Falls; however, bears are in the area from mid spring until mid fall. (nps.gov/katm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm)

Go on a virtual tour of one of these 12 famous museums. (travelandleisure.com/attractions/museums-galleries/museums-with-virtual-tours)

In Seward, take to the bay with Kenai Fjords Tours to capture great views of the glaciers and the many species of wildlife (puffins and otters and orcas – oh my!). (kenaifjords.com)

Feed a fish. Every Tuesday and Friday at 4 pm, the public is invited to help feed the sea creatures in the aquaria at the Pratt Museum, Homer. It’s free and fun for all. (prattmuseum.org)

Go play in the mud. June 29th is International Mud Day – this is official permission to play in the mud. Seriously!

Bike the Coastal Trail. The 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail follows the Anchorage Coastline from downtown Anchorage to its present end at Kincaid Park. With beautiful scenery it’s a great bike ride for kids and there are plenty of parks along the way for picnics and rest stops.

Go “Where The Wild Things Are.” Visit with the furry, horned beasts at the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. Added bonus: the chance to see a baby musk ox! (muskoxfarm.org)

Learn about the benefits of ladybugs, then purchase some to set free in your own yard.


Watch a classic family movie.
For ideas, visit alaskaparent.com/_pages/book_buzz/cant_miss_stories

Go bird watching. Head to Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge in Fairbanks where many different migratory birds (Sandhill cranes, shovelers, mallards and more) make their summer home. Walk the 5 miles of family-friendly trails through the meadows and forest to spot even more wildlife – moose, snowshoe hares, squirrels or red fox. (creamersfield.org)

Start a summer journal. Encourage your child to draw, write poetry, pen short stories, or just journal their feelings in a special notebook.

Take a day to plan random acts of kindness as a family.

Hold a hula hoop contest. See which family member can hula the longest.

Start learning a new language. Duolingo is a great app which makes learning a new language fun and easy. (duolingo.com)


Go fishing.
The Alaska Dept. of Fish & Game stocks many lakes throughout Alaska, increasing your kids’ chances of taking home their very own catch. Jewel Lake in Anchorage, for example, is stocked with Chinook salmon, rainbow trout and Arctic char.

Story-telling. Have one person start a story for 60 seconds. Then the next continues it for another 60 seconds and so on.

Ride bikes as a family.

 

Tackle DIY projects. Have a project that just never gets done? Buy a bucket of paint and repaint that living room or bedroom while jamming to favorite tunes.

Have a luau in the backyard. Make flower leis, play Hawaiian music and serve tropical foods and drinks.

Listen to kid-approved podcasts

The best podcasts for kids entertain and inform. These podcasts are so much fun the whole family will want to listen! Slip on some headphones and test-drive these kid-approved audio podcasts.

  • Story Time (ages 2-3) – Lots of great stories (less than 20 minutes long) for toddlers and preschoolers to listen to
  • Storynory (ages 3+) – Fairy tales, original stories, myths, poems, music, history and more
  • What If World (all kids) – Takes “What if?” questions from kids and spins them into stories
  • Brains On! (kids & teens) – Kid co-hosts join to find answers to fascinating questions
  • Aaron’s World (ages 3-9)– An imaginative science-themed audio drama for kids
  • Wow in the World (ages 6-12) – Amazing stories about science and technology
  • The Past and the Curious (ages 5-8) – True stories of inspiration, humor, and incredible achievements
  • KiDNuZ (ages 8-14) – Nonpartisan news, politics, science, entertainment, sports, and more
  • Flyest Fables (ages 7-12) – Anthology-style fables for the 21st century
  • Story Pirates (ages 3-8) – Stories written by kids, for kids
  • Brains On (Ages 6-12) – This silly yet educational podcast takes kid-submitted science questions and answers them with the help of experts
  • Short and Curly (ages 7+) – A fun-filled (and sometimes silly) podcast for kids all about ethical questions that get kids and adults thinking


Play HORSE.
Use your basketball hoop or one at the park to play a challenging game of HORSE. With little ones, set up a mini basketball net next to the real one.

Turn your children’s art or your photos into masterpieces with the Google Arts & Culture’s Art Transfer app. (artsandculture.google.com/camera/art-transfer)

Have a family dance party. It gets everyone happy and provides much needed exercise for all.

Send your long-distance family and friends some homemade postcards.

Have an indoor scavenger hunt. Find three items that are red, four items that are blue, etc., or a theme by category hunt.

Have fun on the farm. Visit a local farm to bottle feed a calf, scratch a goat behind its ears, see food being pulled from the ground – or, if possible, witness an animal giving birth. Try thelearningfarm.net and calypsofarm.org.

Visit Alaska’s only historic theme park: Pioneer Park. In the summer, attractions include a miniature passenger train that meanders through the park, mini-golf, a carousel, food vendors, a playground and free daily outdoor concerts. (co.fairbanks.ak.us/pioneerpark)

Make a masterpiece with shaving cream

This fun activity will make any kid (young or old) feel like an accomplished artist!

Materials:

  • Shaving cream (avoid gels)
  • Food coloring
  • Paper (light-colored construction paper or card stock)
  • Paper towels
  • Cookie sheet or other flat, nonporous washable surface, covered with aluminum foil (optional)
  • Fork, spoon or toothpicks for stirring
  • Spatulas
  • Apron or play clothes (it can get messy!)
  • Hand wipes to remove any food coloring on the skin

Cover your work surface with a plastic or paper covering, then cut the paper into half sheets (8 1/2”x5 1/2”). Squirt a generous amount of shaving cream on the foil-covered cookie sheet. Using a silicone spatula, spread the shaving cream out until it is flat (about 1” thick), and slightly larger than the size of the paper. Lightly drop food coloring on top of the shaving cream. (Limiting your design to two to three colors produces the best results.) Lightly drag the fork, spoon or toothpicks through the shaving cream and color, creating patterns. Press the paper lightly on top of the shaving cream mixture, rubbing the paper gently to ensure good contact with the surface of the shaving cream. Remove the paper and lay it on top of a clean, covered work surface. Scrape the shaving cream off with a plastic spatula, wiping the spatula each time with a paper towel. The shaving cream is removed but the color remains, creating amazing artwork! Lay flat to dry.

Note: Due to COVID-19, some attractions may have adjusted or closed some of their amenities. Call ahead to verify availability.

For more fun things to do this summer, visit our calendar.