A few weeks ago my oldest two children (15 and 13) went off for their first week of overnight camp. My 7year-old was also blessed with the opportunity to go to day camp that week and spend the nights with my parents (who live in the same town as the camp).
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It was a wonderful experience for all three of them, but that left the three-year-old as the only child left at home. He was not used to being without his siblings and missed them fiercely.
In an effort to have a fun week with him and distract him from missing his siblings, I planned a week full of fun for the two of us. Most of these ideas were simple and free or very inexpensive. I included a variety of activities both at home and around town.
Having a good plan also helped me to limit his screen time, though we did plan about an hour of downtime each afternoon where he could watch Boz or Paw Patrol and I could get a little bit of work done.
Some Ideas For ‘Day Camp’ or Summer Fun with Toddlers
- Library: The library is great because it is free and not weather-dependent. We went for story-time and many libraries have lots of fun summer activities for young children. Even if your library is not doing special activities, it can be fun to go in and read books together.
- Strawberry Picking: We went strawberry picking (with me doing most of the picking and him doing most of the eating) but depending on where you live and what is in season you could pick other fruits. It is a fun way to spend the time and the only cost was the fruit that we picked.
- Doughnut Shop: A doughnut shop, bakery, or even ice cream store can be a great way to enjoy a fun treat together. I spent less than $3 but we had a lot of fun.
- Swimming Lessons: This is the most expensive item on my list but also possibly the most useful. We love spending time on and around the water and find it very important to teach our children how to swim and be safe. My three-year-old loves his swim lessons. Many places offer individual or group lessons.
- Playground: Another great free experience. We went one evening when my husband could join us and enjoyed a picnic dinner and then let my son play on the slides, swings, etc. In our town, there are multiple different playgrounds and it could be fun to try a different one each day or week. This is also a fun and easy way to meet up with friends and let the children play and the moms get a chance for a few minutes of adult conversation.
- Splash pad: Going into this time I knew I was going to want some fun and easy ways to keep my son occupied. I got this fun splash pad for less than $13 and it will give him hours and hours of fun this summer. He played with it during the week the older children were gone but has also been using it with his seven-year-old brother since they got home. I love that it only takes seconds to set up and take back down.
- Art Kit: We have a subscription to Toucan Box that I love to use when I want to spend some time doing a one-on-one activity with my younger children. They can come once a month, but I tend to pause them during months when we are busy and just get them during summer months or other times when I want an easy project to do with the children. They are less than $15 shipped and contain two big projects as well as some other fun ideas. During our summer camp time, we used our box to make a crocodile puppet!
- Reading: Reading time is always beneficial and fun. You can read books that you already have at home, check some out when you go to the library, or even download some picture books to read together using Kindle Unlimited. We generally prefer real books for younger children, but I like to use Kindle Unlimited if I want to read a specific title that we do not have at home. Time spent reading has so many benefits.
Those are just a few fun activities that I used to keep us busy during our week of one-on-one time. You could use these for a week of fun, or spread them out throughout the summer for some fun and focused time.
I would love to know what you enjoy doing with your toddler/preschool-aged children. Share your ideas or questions in the comments.
More Summer Fun Ideas:
Summer Plans: Rhythms and Routines
Summer Bucket List! (Free Printable)
Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure
When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.
This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.
Deals and Freebies
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Starting SOON! Check out these wonderful FREE summer courses from one of our favorites: Journey Homeschool Academy! We loved their biology course this year and are excited about the free summer courses. Summer Stargazing and Backyard Bugs
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