Keep Summer Alive: Before School Starts Bucket List for Kids

The kids in your life are probably dreading it, and you might be kind of ready for it: school’s return. We’re a few days into August now, and the sights of school supplies and back to school shopping commercials may be tricking you into thinking summer is all but over. Nonsense! There’s plenty of time to keep summer alive, so we’ve compiled a before-school-starts bucket list for kids, including outdoor activities, amazing attractions, and some last-minute fun and games before the bell rings on the 2019-2020 school year.

SWIM INTO THE END OF SUMMER

If the summer is seeming to end far too soon, it might be time to head back to the pool. Whether you’ve been frequenting your local swimming pool a lot this summer, or not as much as you would have liked, it’s not too late! There are a number of favorites all over the greater Champaign County area, including Sholem Aquatic Center, which features a 660-foot lazy river, and waterslides to plunge, twirl and spiral your way down. 

Another favorite is Rantoul’s Hap Parker Family Aquatic Center featuring two amazing water slides that splash down into 350,000 gallons of crystal clear water. The zero-depth entry pool also features water toys for children, lanes for swimmers, and diving boards. With a number of others likely right in your backyard, dip your toes in a few more times with the kids before school starts!

LAST MINUTE FUN AND GAMES

In a lot of ways, summer feels like one last chance to get some fun in before hitting the books, so it’s important to get some fun in before it’s back to school. You can use these last few weeks to stock up on ways to have fun at home, or get out for last minute fun that even has a bit of an educational twist to it. At Dr. G’s Brainworks there are a lot of different ways to play, including puzzles, games, and other brain fitness activities. Anything from brain teasers to traditional board games are sold here, and a ton of events happen year-round that you can come by and participate in! 

For those more into reading or traditional toys, the Art Mart toy section is always expanding its collection with things like books, activities for home, and even toys for the youngest little ones. LabEscape is also a great option for kids looking for fun and games outside of the house. With an emphasis on science as a form of games and puzzles, LabEscape is an educational way to interact with fun escape room style puzzles and missions while also learning something. Plus, no experience or knowledge in science is required, meaning any kids willing to play and follow directions can participate!

A DAY OUT  

No matter what your kids like to do, there are a ton of ways to have a fun day out that gets them a few last memories before school is back in session. If your kids are looking for a fun day indoors on an especially hot day, Skateland is the perfect way to get out and move with your kids before the school year returns. When the weather is a bit nicer, consider some time at Prairie Farm, a replica turn-of-the century farm complete with barn, farmhouse, pond, pasture, & flower garden. Bonus: free admission! They’ll close up shop on August 10th.

Just off Illinois Route 47 in Mahomet, Mabery Gelvin Botanical Gardens is great for kids that love a good walk or gentle hike. It’s also gorgeous, and a ton of fun to spot different colors and plant life as you explore 8 acres. An added bonus, Museum of the Grand Prairie is right nearby for a fun dive into the 19th and early 20th century life in east-central Illinois. Lastly, if you haven’t fit any foot golf into your summer, Foot Golf at Lake of the Woods Golf Course is a must before school starts back up again. Before returning home.

BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING PRO TIP IN TUSCOLA

We want to end things with a quick little tip. Let’s say you need to get the kids out for back to school shopping, but they’re just not the best shoppers. We have a two-step solution. First thing’s first: your kids need back-to-school clothes. The Tuscola Factory Outlets are a great way to get some great discounts and deals on clothes your kids need. Plus, there are a variety of options at the various stores in the outdoor mall area, so take the kids around and find what they need. 

For some motivation, promise the kids a stop at Flesor’s Candy Kitchen before returning home! With delicious sweets, as well as options for breakfast and lunch if you’re up and at ‘em early enough! It’s a great way to get the kids to participate in the shopping experience, with some good old-fashioned bribery involved. 

ONE LAST FLING BEFORE SUMMER IS OVER

We’re lucky to have a number of great family activities in the greater Champaign County area. Keep an eye on our events calendar as the first day of school gets closer to see if an area event might be a nice way to cap off an Outside of Ordinary summer before throwing on backpacks and gathering school supplies!

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