A Summer like no other! Parents have their work cut out for them this Summer. Very few camps will be in-person camps this year, and even virtual camps will last for a few hours versus a typical Camp schedule of 9am to 5pm. Whether you’re working outside the home, working from home, or not working at all – being cooped up in the house can get boring. We’ve listed some fun toys and games to enhance your limited Summer activities, inside and outside the home.

Outdoor Fun!

Sidewalk Chalk!

This Non-Toxic set of Jumbo Chalk can come in handy for sidewalk art, or drawing a hopscotch table (Here’s the table and rules if you’ve forgotten…). The set can travel with you to the park or even downstairs in front of your stoop – just make sure to get your landlords permission first – this can also be consider grafitti!

Bicycling with family

After so much time indoors – and lots of snacks, it’s time to get active! Grab your bicycle and get moving. NYC Parks Department has a list of dedicated bike paths and greenways for the entire family to roll through. They also have a list of bike rental places should you need to borrow a bike. Did you know that CitiBike offers a discount to NYCHA residents and SNAP recipients – click HERE to learn more. Helmets are required for all riders under the age of 14 – you can call 311 to arrange for a Free helmet through The Department of Transportation.

If biking isn’t your thing – take an evening stroll, check out our list of walkways Uptown.


Paddle Catch and Toss Game

An oldie but goodie! This catch and toss game works on hand/eye coordination and is toddler friendly – and easy to transport! Grab this pouch and head outside. The ball attaches to each paddle with velcro making catching it a lot less intimidating for beginners. A great game for the park, or beach, and if you aim right, a fun workout too!

Grow Something!

Gardening is relaxing and promotes a sense of calm (must be all that oxygenated air!), is good for the environment and especially good for our bees! At a time like this, we could us the perspective of something as simple and complex as the growth cycle.

You can grow a couple of herbs in your kitchen window or fire escape with a starter kit like this one. However do note that it is illegal to place anything on your fire escape – This Article breaks down the rules and tips on keeping things lowkey.

This is also a great time to join your community garden. In your neighborhood jaunts, certainly you’ve stumbled across a garden or two – you can inquire directly with the garden association or visit HERE to learn how to join a community garden.

Jump Rope!

Grab a rope and start jumping! This fun activity costs very little and can provide a welcome distraction. Bouncing up and down is actually good for your lymphatic system – which helps fight off infections and viruses! You can also use the jump rope to build skills as it helps coordinate eye/foot movement – a top reason you see many athletes jumping rope because it helps with reflexes and coordination. Also – it’s fun. Double dutch can take a bit more practice –

Take your Jump Rope or Double Dutch Rope and go outside to the nearest park and have a blast!

*This exercise can be tough on your knees – check with your Doctor first!

Indoor Fun!

Create Your Own Board Game!

Draw inspiration from Catan, Monopoly or any variety of card games – and create your very own board game. A few supplies from the $1 store, local art store, Target, and found objects from inside your home can all contribute to a fun multiplayer board game. Determine the theme of your game, how many players you will have and begin crafting. This Article from PBS Kids has great suggestions for using a homemade boardgame as a way to practice math skills or incorporate some movement. You can use small toys or figurines as totems for board play, and index cards as “special” cards. Smaller children can help draw designs, and older children (with supervision) can cut and glue any pieces together.

Learn a Language 日本語を学ぶ  Apprends le Français

School is out – but learning must remain constant. If we can make it fun – even better! Play encourages long term memory meaning that the more fun you have while learning a topic, the more likely you are to recall that lesson later on! Apps and Programs are an easy way to begin. However a fantastic resource is YouTube – there are native speakers of almost any language posting videos to teach their audience and it’s FREE! You can use post-it notes around the house to label common items in the desired language. Also use stickers or draw graphics in your notebook to brighten your notes with colored pens and pencils – get creative!

Check Out DuoLingo App – which is FREE to get started! Pimsleur Language courses are available on Audible so you can listen while eating or coloring!

We are currently studying Japanese and using fun TV shows like Chi’s Sweet Adventure! Check it out – it’s super かわいい!

Random Fun Crafts!

This is a fun time to learn how to make various crafts that you recall from your childhood, or just want to try out! Remember Lanyard keychains and bracelets? try this Lanyard Kit, it comes with an instructional booklet detailing how to make several projects.

Klutz makes fun craft, and STEM kits for kids! Integrating science with fun! The Soap Kit, or the Circuit Clay kit are great ways to provide science exploration with fun. Check out their entire shop on Amazon HERE – They have more than science fun: Make your own Puffy Stickers or Sew a Llama Pillow!

This Melissa & Doug starter loom is great for beginners – potholders and wall hanging can be created! Speaking of interwoven – Make an easy hand crochet blanket – great beginner project! Simply Maggie’s Youtube Video requires no additional tools besides yarn!

Learn a New Skill

Online skill building is a great way to keep busy during the next few weeks. Kids and Teens can find a variety of interesting topics. The New York Public Library has Online Summer Reading Program for Teens with video on Improv, Graffiti Art, Mindfulness and more! The NYPL also has a Virtual Summer Camp for grades Pre-k through Middle School and Up. Each week they provide worksheets and fun activities! The first week is dedicated to “Finding your strength” and encourages kids to make their own art or dance.

 Online Classrooms such as DIY.ORG (formally Jam.com), Skillshare and  Outschool offers virtual classes on Art, Photography, Cooking, Photoshop, Design, Writing and more.

Parents, you can get in on the skill building too, let your child teach you the ways of Minecraft or how to build a two-story house in Roblox (much harder than building a one-story house – trust me). Whatever they’re into, chances are you can join in and play together online or at least let them teach you what they’re doing and why.


How are you keeping your family engaged and busy this Summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Shaneeka Wilson
Author: Shaneeka Wilson

Mom to an adult trapped in a tween's body (HELP!). Passionate about Education, Community Involvement, and Good Coffee. Co-creator of Uptown Birdies.