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Social Distancing Summer Activities

by David Engle | May 14, 2020 | 4 min read

As we continue social distancing throughout the country, there are some signs of light at the end of what’s been a very long, very dark tunnel. While many states are still under restrictions, and social distancing is mandatory everywhere, America is gradually reopening businesses and attractions as the COVID-19 curve begins to flatten.

However, even with most states opening parks and golf courses (and some coastal states opening beaches), and some even opening retail stores and gyms with limited capacity, many attractions still remain closed–not to mention, many people are still concerned enough about coronavirus that they’re not yet comfortable going out in public, even with social distancing measures in place.

Plus, kids are still schooling at home, many parents are working remotely, and we’re all more or less stuck in the house…so, what can you do to pass the time with the family? We already provided a list of some fun stay-cation ideas to help you feel like you were able to “get away” for the day–or even a few hours. Here, we have some activities the whole family can participate in while bonding and creating some fun memories.

1.“Drive-in” movie night. I wouldn’t recommend actually driving your car into the backyard; instead set up some lawn chairs, put up a projector screen, and show your family’s favorite movie outside! Drive-in movies are lots of fun for everyone, and this is the next best thing.

Of course, you’ll need a projector and a screen (or at least a large, flat surface to project onto–a garage door or a fence will work); fortunately, you can find very affordable mini (like, pocket-sized) projectors almost everywhere–and just about all of them can be hooked up to a device with a downloaded movie or can be used with a memory card. Beyond that, you just need lots of popcorn, candy, and drinks! (Tip: if you live in a neighborhood with houses close to yours, you might want to invest in some Bluetooth headphones for the family so you don’t disturb the neighbors with the sound.)

 2. Backyard sports. There are no professional or college sports to enjoy right now, so have your own competitions! Get a family wiffle ball game going in the backyard. Or set up some makeshift goals and play soccer. If you’ve got a basketball hoop, split up and have a family tournament or HORSE game. There are so many options if you have some space: volleyball, badminton, horseshoes, bean bag toss. A super-fun idea is to construct a mini-golf course (even if it’s just a hole or two). This requires some creativity! Have a scavenger hunt to find things around the house that will create each hole–make a trash can look like an animal, and try to get the ball into its “mouth”. Gather some rocks and sticks to create “hazards”. The possibilities are practically endless!

Better yet, set up a crazy obstacle course outside, full of weird activities or challenges along the way. Get creative with the kids to see what you can come up with using random stuff around the house. This water obstacle course, from Meaningful Mama, is perfect for hot days.

3. Make your own ice cream. Nothing hits the spot during warm weather like a delicious bowl or cone filled with scoops of ice cream. Sure, you can buy some at the grocery store, but why not try making it yourselves? Ice cream makers are super-affordable and pretty easy to use, so make a night out of it. The best part about making your own ice cream is that you can create your own flavors and concoctions. Oreo gummy bear ice cream? Why not! If ice cream isn’t your thing, make your own sno-cones! All you need is some ice and flavoring.

4. Family talent show. Everyone in the family has some type of talent, whether it’s something goofy or truly impressive. Stage a family talent show, where every member of the clan showcases their talents. No talent is off-limits–dancing, singing, poetry, burping the alphabet, walking around the room with a book balanced on your head. Have each family member act as a judge and determine a winner who gets a homemade trophy.

Record the contest and send it to other relatives. Better yet…have family and friends call into a Zoom meeting and put on a live show for everyone! They can all join in and judge the performances as well. It’ll be fun to watch that video years from now and say, “Remember when we were all stuck at home during the pandemic?”

5. Baking contest. If you’ve never seen the Netflix show, “Nailed It!” (or the memes that inspired the show), you’re missing out. The premise of the show is for three admittedly subpar bakers to try and recreate a masterpiece cake baked by a professional cake maker. As you can probably guess, the results are quite hilarious and entertaining. So, if you’ve got the ingredients in the house, have a family baking contest! Go online and find a professionally made cake to use as the model–then have the family take turns trying to make the same cake. Take pictures of the results, share them on social media, and have your online friends and family decide the winner. And if the results are baking fails, you can always gather on the couch and binge-watch the show!

6. Game night! Raid the closet and break out the board games! Always a family favorite, board games are an awesome way to build family bonds while also letting off some competitive steam. And some friendly trash talk is always fun. Make it a household marathon of games–anything from Scrabble to UNO to Candy Land! For the teenagers who might roll their eyes at the thought of board games, there are some great newer games like Exploding Kittens (not what it sounds like), What Do You Meme?, Relative Insanity, and Cards Against Humanity. Plus, classics like Clue and Monopoly are available in a wide range of pop culture themes.

If you’re up for a party, get friends, family, and neighbors involved! The beauty of technology is that you can have a huge virtual game night with everyone in their own homes. Set up a Zoom (or other) video call, break off into teams, and take turns while everyone watches online! This is perfect for games like Trivial Pursuit or the board game version of game shows like Jeopardy! and Family Feud, where each family is a team going head-to-head against other families on the video call. A scavenger hunt is also a fun way to pass the time–find a list online, and whichever family finds the most items around their own house wins!

Not only will these kinds of activities keep the family entertained during what’s probably going to be the Summer of Social Distancing, they create lifelong memories that you’ll all relive again and again. Rather than dwell on what we can’t do, let’s focus on everything we can do. All it takes is some creativity, imagination, and maybe a little bit of yard space.

How are you planning on passing the time this summer? Share in the comments below!

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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