Sizing Down Summer: Field Trips That Come to You

As the sunshine sings, it’s tempting to always be on the go. Nothing is more exhilarating than a summertime day-trip—and, as much as we adults need to shower and recover our zen after the fact, we know that kids love going out.

Time, money, and energy require, however, that we are not always renting out a school bus and reapplying sunscreen. Fortunately, part of the magic of childhood comes through taking the big things of the world and making them kid-sized. Bringing big summer activities to children makes experiences manageable, safe, and—most importantly—explorable. Here are three summertime field trips which we think work just as well right outside on the playground.

  • Daytime camping: The simple act of setting up a tent provides for a day full of camping fun. Hike around the yard and take note of the birds and flowers. Sit inside and tell stories. Gather twigs for a log pile. Even a short nap is suddenly exciting!
  • Water play: No need to go to the beach to enjoy the sand and salt! Locating a wide bucket of water with bath toys on a table gives children an opportunity to splash away. With larger groups, a bucket of sand with sand toys at another table will work nicely for taking turns and keeping interest.
  • Farmer’s market: This one requires some make-believe (but can be done inside). Give each child a fruit or vegetable (a paper fruit or veggie) to sell. Station them in chairs as their farmer’s market booths. The adults go around and “pay” with items like pom poms. Once the adults have spent all their pom poms, invite the children, one at a time, to spend the pom poms they earned at different stalls. You can even have your kids do the prep work for this activity by leading them through drawing fruits and veggies on paper!

What’s incredible is that “sizing down” does not actually minimize any of the fun: in fact, the fun increases! By giving kids a safe place to play, their curiosity can thrive. Summer can come to you!