31 Ways to Enjoy an Inclusive Summer

Summer is finally here, and I am looking forward to having time to share content through my site. As an easy way to get started, here is a list I created to help families generate ideas for activities that children with a wide range of needs, interests, and abilities will find accessible and enjoyable. Feel free to add you own and keep this list growing!

  1. Tell stories around the fire. Use AAC device for catch phrase/sound effect/punch line. Let everyone try!
  2. Rain? Try a big family puzzle. Turn taking, talking and eye-contact are not necessary, and everyone works at their own pace.
  3. Head to a drive-in. No need to use quiet voices and those needing to move around during the film can do so.
  4. Remember headphones during fireworks or watch from a distance to make the night comfortable for all.
  5. Play audiobooks on road trips; those who cannot access books independently get to read & the family gets to share a story.
  6. Take pics of a fun day and assemble into a book. Kids can take snaps, write captions, etc. Read and repeat to build fluency.
  7. Try a kayak, paddle boat, or bicycle built for two. It’s more fun than a solo trip and a buddy provides support.Summer kayak trip
  8. Create a ritual that everyone can look forward to and participate in: an after-dinner stroll, a weekly visit to the park, etc.
  9. Invite friends over for non-competitive games like scavenger hunts, charades, and sidewalk chalk exhibitions.
  10. Let everyone in the family suggest one NEW summer activity—one that is accessible and fun for all.
  11. Get a museum pass and cut visits short when it is too crowded/overwhelming. Make several short visits vs. one long one.
  12. Create collaborative art. Make a mural on a sheet, create photo collages, or paint an old chair.Collaborative painting
  13. Dive in! For many, the pool/lake/ocean is the ultimate “accessible environment” and enjoying the water is THE quintessential summer experience.
  14. Make gluten-free s’mores.
  15. Play board games that build literacy skills such as Scrabble, Boggle, Story Cubes, etc.
  16. Play board games that build math skills such as Pay Day, Yahtzee, Candyland, Monopoly, Sorry, Connect 4, Tangrams, Rummikub, etc.Family-friendly games
  17. Connect w/ pen pals. Learn about the world and build lang/literacy skills. Writing to a pal is also a great excuse to try new assistive tech.
  18. Have some sensory fun. Dig in the sand, play in the mud, or make water balloons!
  19. Suggest skits, backyard performances, and improv games. These are lots of fun and they are helpful in developing communication, social, and literacy skills.
  20. Cook or bake something new and let everyone take part. Use a switch to mix/blend if needed.
  21. Dive into your child’s fascinations. Learn about Minecraft, read vampire books, listen to Taylor Swift, etc.
  22. Find a summer activity (e.g., jump rope, kick-the-can, tag). Develop as many possible adaptations/versions as possible.
  23. Ride around your city on your child’s favorite type of transportation—bus, train, subway, or pedicab. See the sights and relax.
  24. Camp in the backyard. Save money and don’t worry about forgetting meds, special foods, or adaptive equipment.
  25. Take a day trip and build background knowledge. A trip to a pond to learn ecosystems? To the state capitol to learn about government?
  26. Give kids odd jobs to earn spending money. Find chores that teach new skills, if possible (e.g., organizing, counting, cooking).
  27. Learn a new card game. Use pool noodles as card holders for little hands or for those needing support.
  28. Play some mini golf and give different roles to different players (e.g., putting expert, cheerleader, scorer).Mini golf
  29. Look into inclusive summer camp experiences like those promoted by the National Inclusion Project.
  30. Shoot silly videos. This is an easy way to let everyone be expressive and create in their own ways. The video serves as a keepsake too.
  31. Volunteer (e.g., bring treats to an animal shelter). Kids who get a lot of support often love the chance to provide it.