Kid’s Summer Entertainment

By Katelyn Kasper

Creating a fun summer vacation without the screens

Summer is here! The children are home and ready for play time, and you want to keep them busy but cringe with the internal battle of “screen time” limits. There are plenty of ways to give your kids a fun-filled, productive summer vacation. Here are just some of the ideas to keep your kiddos active and engaged at home or around town without screens.

Reading Programs
There are so many reading programs that encourage children to read while also engaging their competitive side with prizes for reaching milestones. McLennan County Library always has a summer reading challenge in addition to their yearly challenges and “1000 Books Before Kindergarten” plan. Other challenges can be found at H-E-B and Half Price Books.

Museums
Museums don’t have to be dry and boring. Look at your family interests and dig in deep with some of the amazing museums in our area. These include the Mayborn Museum, Dr Pepper Museum, Waco Mammoth National Monument, Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and the Mayborn Science Theatre/Planetarium in Killeen.

Play areas
Stay indoors to beat the heat. Several active indoor options include passes to Little Land, Urban Air Trampoline Park and Tilt Studio Black Light Mini Golf.

Water Fun
Texas gets hot, sometimes super hot. Water is so refreshing, but it can also be really fun. You can find swim class options, but there are also some areas like Camp Fimfo, Hawaiian Falls, Lake Waco and Waco Surf where you can just relax and play. Splash pads can be found at Cameron Park, Chapel Park and Carleen Bright Arboretum.

Outdoor adventures
For your adventurous and nature-loving children, try to find activities outdoors. There are lots of playgrounds all around McLennan County that you can spread a blanket and have picnic time. Play I Spy or Twenty Questions during bike rides and walks in the neighborhood. You can kayak with Pura Vida Paddle, paddleboard with Waco Paddle Company, join the Waco Bicycle Club, camp in your backyard or feed the ducks! There are also several parks in the area like Cameron Park, Woodway Park or Carleen Bright Arboretum that have trails for exploring.

Test Extracurricular activities
The school year is usually filled with the standard extra-curricular activities. Summer is a great time to explore other interests. Did you know that several organizations offer trial runs or clinics? These include American Ninja Warrior at Texas Dynasty, Martial Arts, Woodway Family Center, dance and gymnastics classes, horseback lessons and more. McLennan Community College Continuing Education has a ton of options that include music, baking, theater and writing lessons. And don’t forget the local crafting stores that offer a wide range of classes. There’s something for everyone!

Occasional Fun
There are several options for older children that are sometimes special treats like concerts, paintball, bowling, Top Golf and escape rooms. Younger children can join a local Vacation Bible Study for social time. And don’t forget about family outing ideas like 5k runs, downtown Waco and Woodway Farmers Markets and concerts. Several free concert opportunities can be found at Brazos Nights, the Carleen Bright Arboretum and Bridge Street Plaza.

Fun at Home
Don’t underestimate the power of activities at home. Younger children love to kick around a ball, build with blocks and Legos, complete craft kits, build forts out of blankets and pillows, sing silly songs with motions and play games. Create homemade instruments, make blanket capes or wings, and show children how to use their imaginations. This practice will keep them going throughout the year.

Some other go-to options at home are to let them create summer jobs like a Lemonade Stand with Lemonade Day Waco, pet sitting, mowing, etc. You can also get subscription boxes like The Fabled Post and KiwiCo or audiobooks from the library
or Toniebox.

Don’t forget to take some time to answer their questions. This is a focused training time. Empower them to help with the chores or make meal planning decisions, to help you cook, to pretend they are young adults with the perfect mentor by their side (you). Ditch the screens and have a summer to remember together!