Summer is officially here! This was my first year with a kid in preschool, so this is also the first summer I’ve discovered the chaos that can creep in once your regular routine is thrown out the window. It seems like all of my friends are talking about coming up with new schedules, summer school activities, outings and more to be able to pleasantly pass the time with their kids.

Things To Do With Kids in Seattle: Summer Routines

Growing up, my mom always devised a Family Summer School — my brother, sister and I would each have a little workbook or reading chart to finish by the end of the summer, and once we did it we got to pick out a prize like a new book or toy. It only took a few minutes on a couple of mornings a week, but I loved having that little exercise to keep me on track (and I’m sure it helped keep my brain actively in gear, which eased the back-to-school transition!).

My kids are still pretty young, so I’m not looking for any hardcore programs, but I think all three of us appreciate having a little structure in our lives. Plus, I love the message of the Summer Bucket List Challenge — planning ahead to be intentional about our summer activities, instead of floating through it and realizing on the first day of school that we missed out on a ton of fun opportunities!

So, I came up with a generalized plan for each day of the week and a handful of activities for each category, and I’m excited to put it into action! Some of these activities are specific to Seattle, but most are things you can find in your own local community too. (Most don’t cost much money, if any at all — we don’t want to go broke this summer, am I right?) Check out our summer list and leave a comment with your favorite summer activities for kids too.

BEACH DAY: We’re lucky to live just outside Seattle, so there are plenty of beaches for us to play on when the weather gets warm. Two of our favorites are Alki Beach in West Seattle (decent sand, small waves, lots of crabs and sea glass and driftwood to discover — plus good restaurants and bike paths nearby) and Houghton Beach in Kirkland (on the shores of Lake Washington, with a great beach area and an awesome park). There are tons of other ocean and lake beaches nearby that I’m excited to try this summer. Or, if you’re landlocked, you could always turn beach day into pool day and hang out at your community swimming area.

SUMMER SCHOOL: With an almost-4-year-old I’m keeping this pretty low key, but he loved preschool SO much this year that I’m eager to keep him enthusiastic about learning. I’m utilizing Pinterest (my favorite learning activities comes from the No Time for Flashcards blog and Pinterest boards — almost 16,000 pins of cool things to do with kids!) to find one or two fun, educational activities to do with him on Tuesday mornings while my baby naps. We’ll work on his writing skills and do a few science experiments. The King County Library System also has a really fun summer reading program for kids of all ages, so we’ll be working our way through that too!

FIELD TRIP:  I really love taking advantage of all the local culture and hands-on experiences in our community. A friend and I have teamed up to brainstorm a list of activities we want to try together — it’s always a little easier to get out and about if you’ve got a wingman going with you, and our kids play well together so it will be fun for them to share the outings with a friend. These activities range from super easy (trying a new-to-us local park or walking the farmers market) to a little more advanced, so on the occasional week when we’re feeling extra adventurous we’ll plan ahead for a full day trip (taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island for ice cream, touring the Pacific Science Center or taking a picnic to the Discovery Park lighthouse).

ART PROJECT: Going hand in hand with our summer school plans, this day gives me an excuse to get out our art supplies and be creative with my son. We’ve collected so many supplies — paints, chalk, clay, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, play doh — it’s nice to plan ahead a little bit and find ways to use it all in a constructive way. (The Modern Parents Messy Kids Pinterest page has tons of good art project ideas too.)

CATCH UP DAY: Fridays will be my swing days, where we can squeeze in any activities we missed or just relax at home with no schedule. (It’s also my laundry day, so…there’s that.) Sometimes we meet my husband for lunch at his office, or just play with games and toys at home.

So, now you know my summer plan — don’t forget to share yours!