1. Blow bubbles
What would summer be without the chance to blow bubbles? This is the perfect activity for those lazy summer afternoons with the kids. Head outdoors with your nieces and nephews, and have them mix together the bubble solution (or stick with the store-bought solutions) – you might even consider adding a bit of food color to the mix for a vibrant array of bubbles. You can get creative and have them make their own fun and wacky bubble wands out of household objects like straws, pipe cleaners, or clothes hangers – with Auntie’s supervision. Let them make a variety of different shapes and sizes, and hold a festival of bubbles in your backyard!
2. Have a movie marathon
If you’re having your nieces and nephews over for the weekend, you can break out the Disney classics or rent this summer’s blockbuster hits or simply put together a stack of their favorites. Before the fun starts, take them out to the store to pick up some of their favorite theater snacks. Be sure to lay out enough blankets, throws, and pillows in case the movie-watching continues on until late into the night – given their parents’ permission to stay up past bedtime. If nieces and nephews are willing and old enough, scary movies can sometimes be great for summertime movie marathons (and the chills can help if you’re experiencing a particularly hot summer); you’ll get some great bonding time in, especially when everyone huddles together during frightening scenes! For some great ideas on how you can throw a backyard summer movie party, click here.
3. Hunt for treasure
Treasure hunts are fun both inside and outside the house. With enough nieces and nephews, you can even form teams. For a simple treasure hunt, you can draw up a basic map or leave clues that will lead them to the treasure – or you can have them do the activity without any form of aid. If you do decide to go with a more traditional form of treasure hunting, then you’ll want to bury the loot somewhere in the backyard with some form of marker. If you’re looking to really amaze your younger nieces and nephews, try burying some costume jewelry.
4. Direct a homemade movie
Turn your niece or nephew into a director for a day and make a homemade film. Create a short script and have your other nieces and nephews audition for roles – while you and the director do the casting. You’ll want to consider creating a script that allows for equal amounts of screen-time for each actor. You can use props from around the house and create some simple backdrops – and maybe a movie clapboard out of cardboard. To make the area seem like a real movie set, designate certain rooms as dressing rooms and hang stars on the doors with the names of your young actors. Have the director use a pocket video camera or your mobile device to film the movie. Once you’re done with the filming session, consider asking their parents if it’s okay to showcase their talents on YouTube.
5. Make a scrapbook
If you have a nice stash of family vacation photos, you might consider asking your nieces and nephews to help you put together a scrapbook of summer memories that you can all enjoy for years to come. Roll out the craft paper, and gather up all the essentials: paper scraps, magazine clippings, stickers, crayons, markers, pencils and pens, tape and glue, embellishments, etc. You might want to pick out a large-sized scrapbook in order to give your nieces and nephews enough room to be as creative as possible. Give each a large page and let the scrapbooking begin!
6. Play restaurant
Summertime offers Aunties a great opportunity to experiment with nieces and nephews in the kitchen. In order to play restaurant, you’ll want to have a large group join you in the kitchen as restaurant staff while the others take on roles as customers. Have your nieces and nephews create and design their own simple menus, and set the table with a theme to match the type of cuisine you’ll be serving – don’t forget to help your nieces and nephews come up with a catchy name for your restaurant! Once you’ve helped them prepare and cook the meal, you can assist your nieces and nephews in dressing the part by providing aprons and small notepads to the waiters, chef hats made out of paper to the cooks, and a few fancy accessories to the customers (e.g., hats, sunglasses, or costume jewelry).
7. Build forts
If they’re over for a sleepover, this activity is a must. You can stick to simple forts with bed sheets in the bedroom or couch cushions in the living room; or you can go all out and have nieces and nephews create forts throughout your home! Given the chance, kids are capable of creating complex forts in just about any room of the house. Supply them with old blankets and throws, empty cardboard boxes, and tons of pillow cushions. Large dining room tables are ideal for large forts, but stay on watch to make sure that your nieces and nephews build safely.
8. Get up and dance
This activity definitely helps get the kids off the couch. With the right kind of music, choreograph a dance or two with your nieces and nephews. There are a few dance games out on the market that you can turn to for inspiration. Give them a chance to show off their moves and cooperate as a team! Once they successfully put a routine together, you can record the dance or have them put on a performance for their parents.
9. Draw a sidewalk masterpiece
Turn your front sidewalk or driveway into an art gallery, showcasing your nieces’ and nephews’ finest chalk drawings. Simply provide them with the proper sidewalk chalk, and watch them unleash their inner creativity. You can also suggest themes for images or assign a mural project so that they can work together on one giant masterpiece. To get their competitive spirits up, you can even hold a sidewalk chalk contest to see who can draw the biggest or most colorful or most interesting picture – or you can ask each of them to cover the entire walkway with portraits of their Savvy Auntie!
10. Stage your own Olympics
If you’ve got little athletes on your hands, now would be a great time to hold your very own mini-Olympic games in the backyard. You can gather supplies for the kinds of sports that your nieces and nephews would be interested in playing – whether or not they are considered official Olympic events. Hold a basketball tournament, a table tennis match, a Frisbee throwing contest, or a relay race from one end of the yard to the other; if you have a pool, you could try a few swimming events. Consider having your nieces and nephews create their own Olympic events like synchronized skipping. You can set up a makeshift podium on your backyard porch or with the use of a few stools, and make sure you’re ready to hand out some plastic bronze, silver, and gold medals to all your mini-Olympians.