20 Ways to Occupy ADHD Children During the Summer

Health Writer
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For many children summer means no school and day after day of having nothing to do but have fun. But for children with ADHD day after day without any structure often means getting into trouble. Here are some ways to keep your child busy during the long days of summer.

Have a picnic in the park

Pack up some sandwiches, snacks and bottled water and head off to enjoy a day in the sunshine. There is no better way to release some pent up energy then spending some time outdoors.

Check out the local library

Many libraries have special programs throughout the summer, check to see what your library offers.

Learn to cook

Look on the internet for some easy, child-friendly recipes that your children can use to start learning how to cook. For older children find some more challenging recipes.

Race paper airplanes

You can create a simple paper airplane in a matter of minutes but challenge your children to be more creative, decorating the planes or looking up ways to make different types of planes out of a sheet of paper.

Plant and care for a garden

You can start a garden with some seeds and paper cups or buy a few plants at the local nursery and plant a garden outdoors.

Create a scrapbook or collage

Print pictures from the internet, use old magazines or print out digital pictures from your phone or camera and create a scrapbook of summer adventures. This is a great idea to help keep kids busy during a summer vacation; they can keep a journal of their summer vacation to go along with the pictures.

Tackle large chores

Use the summer months to tackle some of the jobs that just keep getting put off, like cleaning out closets or organizing the cupboards.

Plan a treasure hunt

This works great if you have more than one child or a friend is visiting. Have one child hid a “treasure” in the house or backyard and draw a treasure map for the other to follow. Then reverse and have them do it again.

Decorate dishes

Use dishes from the dollar store and decorate with Sharpie permanent markers. According to TheSweetestOccasion.com, you can bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and the design becomes permanent.

Create an indoor paddle ball game

Glue a large popsicle or wooden sticks to the back of two paper plates 9or more if you want more paddles) and use a balloon as the ball. Great idea for when its raining out and you need a way to use up some excess energy although it works great outside, too.

Create a living room fort

Using sheets, blankets and pillows, make a fort in the living room. Somehow reading, drawing or coloring are all much more fun inside a fort.

Have a toy wash

Have your children gather up their plastic/metal toys, bikes and cars that could use a good washing. Fill up some buckets with soapy water and let them have fun washing the toys. Then take the hose and rinse everything off. Let everything dry in the sun.

Use audio books

Download some audio stories for use on the iPad, Kindle, Nook or whatever electronic device you have. Your child gets to hear a story and you get time to get chores done.

Use Skype to keep in touch

Set up Skype connections with some of your children’s favorite people, this could be a friend from school, a cousin they don’t often see or their grandparents. Schedule a time for your children to “visit” with friends and relatives.

Create food jewelry

An old favorite; use macaroni, cheerios, fruit loops or other round food and some yarn to create necklaces. Macaroni can be embellished with paint and glitter.

Rent a movie

For those rainy days when going outside isn’t a choice, rent a movie or two and pop some popcorn. Gather up some pillows and blankets and spread out on the living room floor for a family movie event.


For older children, find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Check out your newspaper, ask at your local library or use websites such as Volunteers of American or Volunteer Match to find the right opportunity.

Create a craft box

Fill an box with construction paper, buttons, glitter, markers, paint, glue, old magazines and anything else you have around the house. When your children are bored, pull out the box and get their creative juices flowing.

Sidewalk chalk

Another old favorite, make sure you have plenty of sidewalk chalk around and have the children turn your driveway or sidewalk into a masterpiece.

Write a story

With the recent research on ADHD and exercise, make sure that your children spend at least an hour outside each day (with sunscreen of course) riding bikes, swimming, hiking or running around. Provide them with some structure throughout the day but give your kids a chance to just explore and learn.