Fresh Ideas for Summertime Fun

Likhitha Reddy, MD, PGY2, Resident, Baylor College of Medicine – The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio

How many times have your school-age children told you they are bored today and that there was nothing to do? Have they given up asking, “What are we doing today?” because they know the answer? It’s tough being a kid – even tougher being a parent the past few months.  

We’ve compiled a list of things parents and caregivers can do to keep kids of all ages occupied and maybe even stimulate their curiosity and knowledge – helping you all get through the crazy summer of 2020.  

1. Schedule activities ahead of time While it may not be possible for children to physically attend camps, extracurricular activities or play dates in person, there are an abundance of activities available for your children to enjoy. Scheduling activities beforehand will help children maintain a routine and have something to look forward to every day.

2. Active play is a child’s best friend It is important to incorporate as much active play into children’s schedules as possible. Playing outside, riding bikes in the park, hiking, playing soccer, basketball, volleyball, or just going for a walk around the neighborhood are great ways to get exercise while also spending valuable time with your children.

3. Read, read, read As much as exercise and active play are necessary, it is just as important to make sure kids have time to keep their brains engaged and continue to learn through the summer. Schedule time for reading or listening to audio books or podcasts this summer. The San Antonio Public Library is a wonderful resource to achieve this goal.

4. Limit screen time as much as possible Electronic devices may seem like the easiest option to keep kids busy for most of the day. You can still find ways to make sure screen time includes interactive and educational components. As a parent, it’s important to make sure screen time doesn’t interfere with activities that engage the brain and keep children physically active. Also, make sure devices do not interfere with sleep and family relationships.

Let’s keep our brains active!

Google Arts & Culture has partnered with thousands of museums around the world to offer virtual tours from the comfort of your home. Click here for the complete list.

If you prefer a virtual zoo experience, the San Diego Zoo has set up virtual cams for children to watch the animals. San Diego Virtual Zoo

The San Diego Zoo offers a virtual experience. What are the elephants up to today?

From drawings to science experiments, NASA is providing lists of activities for kids to enjoy with their parents at home! Check out Outta This World!

For a low price of $5, Scholastic provides educational activities for children all summer long. Learn at Home

Chrome Music Lab is a hands on website that helps kids tap into their musical side

Texas Home Learning provides at-home resources for parents to help access educational activities for children. Let’s Learn!

Summer camp…Virtually!? Use Varsity Tutors to help kids (K-12) make the most of their break with interactive camps taught by expert instructors online.

Get your art on with Ms. Sue! Let you and your kids’ creative side flow with free online art classes on Youtube! Ms. Sue’s Art Studio is always open!

Story time is fun time!

Audible is one of the world’s largest collections of audio books and they are currently offering free stories in all different languages for kids! Start Listening Here!  

Podcasts especially for younger children between 2  and 6 years old! List of Podcasts

Storyline Online is a children’s literacy website that streams videos of celebrities reading children’s books along with illustrations.

Imagine a world of possibilities thru the San Antonio Public Library! Subscribe to the Youtube Channel to get more information. IMAGINE!  

Summer sunshine

  • Go on family bike rides or hikes, try to see how many different animals they can identify.
  • Go to the San Antonio Zoo.
  • There are a number of parks still open in San Antonio and families can spend time there while safely social distancing:
    • Friedrich Wilderness Park – By far the most popular park in San Antonio!
    • Brackenridge Park – Great place for biking!
    • Government Canyon park
    • Woodlawn Lake Park – Great place for hikes and fishing!
    • Japanese tea garden
    • Botanical Gardens
    • Jenschke Orchards in Fredericksburg has peach picking tours available for the family. Pick Peaches here!
  • Plan a picnic in the park on a nice sunny day.

Stay in and bond!

Garden in your own backyard.

Cook with your brand new planted garden crop! Explore new recipes with the help of local San Antonio CHEF program. Children as young as 3 can help you cook in the kitchen and it can be a fun adventure to get them to try new cuisines as well!

Camp out in your backyard and cook up some s’mores.

Shoot for the stars! Go stargazing outside on a nice clear night. How many different constellations can you identify?

Pick up some chalk at any local store and decorate the sidewalks. Maybe even play a game of hopscotch!

How about a good old fashioned game of hopscotch on the sidewalk? Hopping can be great exercise. Use sunscreen and stay hydrated when playing outside.

It may have been a while since the kids saw their elderly loved ones. Have them write and decorate homemade letters to the grandparents! Plan time to visit with them through windows or glass doors. If it’s hard to hear each other, use your mobile phone to chat at the same time. They will love seeing how big you’ve grown … and they miss you more than you know!

We hope this list has given you some new ideas and resources to make it through the summer, get some exercise, and keep the boredom blues away!

If your child is having a tough time coping during the pandemic, talk to your pediatrician. If you need a pediatrician, check out The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio Primary Care Pediatricians

Water safety during the COVID-19 pandemic

Tracy McCallin, M.D., F.A.A.P, Emergency Medicine

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under 14 years of age, and is the leading cause of death from preventable injury in children between 1-4 years. As a pediatrician working in the pediatric emergency department for the past nine years and co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement “Prevention of Drowning,” seeing even one child who has drowned is one too many. Every drowning is a preventable tragedy, but there is no one way to drown-proof a child. Learning how to create multiple layers of protection is the best way to keep your child safe around the water.

The current pandemic has created new challenges for caregivers and families around injury prevention, especially drowning. Water safety can be even more difficult to navigate with the additional stresses that COVID-19 brings such as working from home leading to distractions and decreased ability to supervise young children. Developmentally, toddlers and preschoolers are curious and are not aware water can be dangerous.

Therefore, the highest risk of drowning is during non-swim times for this age group. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 69% of children less than 5 years of age were not expected to be at or in the pool at the time of a drowning incident. Drowning is quiet and typically takes one minute or less – the time it takes to answer the door, grab a towel or become distracted by another child. By the time a parent realizes a child has slipped away and fell into a backyard pool or other body of water, it is often too late.  

Caregivers need to remain especially attentive when facing distractions at home during the pandemic. Making sure physical barriers to water are in place can help keep kids safe when supervision is difficult to maintain. Physical barriers with four-sided isolation fencing (at least four feet high) including self-closing and self-latching gates to completely separate the pool from the house is the most effective way to prevent drowning in young children. Draining tubs, sinks and buckets and considering the use of toilet locks can also protect your child from household water risks. Whenever you take your child to a new environment such as a friend or neighbor’s home or on vacation, the AAP recommends doing a walk through to check for bodies of water and what barriers may or may not be in place to protect your child.

When children are expected to be around the water, close, constant, and attentive supervision is a critical layer of protection against drowning. Adults should provide touch supervision within arm’s reach of all children in or near the water by designating a water watcher to this important task. The watcher needs to be free from distraction including talking on a cell phone, social media and alcohol use. For infants and children up to age 6 years, always supervise when bathing and never leave a younger child in the care of an older child.

Another challenge for families during the coronavirus pandemic is limited access to swimming lessons in the community due to social distancing guidelines. The AAP now recommends swim lessons begin at 1 year of age with consideration of your child’s comfort in the water, overall health status, developmental and emotional maturity, and physical ability. However, lessons will likely be more difficult to find in the near future, and parents will need to use other methods to prevent drowning. Also, parents should know the AAP does not recommend swim lessons under 1 year of age because infants developmentally cannot lift their heads well enough to breathe. There is no current evidence that infant swimming programs are beneficial.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends swim lessons begin at 1 year of age with consideration of your child’s comfort in the water, overall health status, developmental and emotional maturity, and physical ability.

Other layers of protection to prevent drowning include wearing U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets when boating and for non-swimmers or young children when in or near water. Parents need to know that teenagers are the group at second highest risk of drowning and should be counseled not to use alcohol, especially around the water, and to always wear life jackets when boating. The AAP also recommends everyone learn CPR and basic swimming skills, as well as swimming at sites with lifeguards, especially for open water recreation.

Besides teaching about water safety, one of my other jobs as a pediatrician is to help worried families understand what drowning is and what it is not. There has been much fear, confusion and misinformation in the media during recent years about something called ‘dry drowning or secondary drowning. Although you have likely read some scary stories out there, let me reassure you there is no such thing as dry or secondary drowning. These are not actual medical conditions and the AAP recommends using the term “non-fatal drowning” to describe a child who did not die from a drowning event.

Current evidence shows children will have symptoms such as trouble breathing or lethargy within one to two hours of a drowning event. Drowning does not occur at a later time in children who had previously looked well. Incidents where a dry drowning death was reported in the media were most likely a coincidental event later thought related to water exposure days earlier. If your child has no problems one to two hours after coughing, sputtering or swallowing water, you can feel reassured they will not develop symptoms of drowning at a later time.

So when do you need to worry if your child has drowned? Based on American Heart Association (AHA) recommendations, if your child needed any type of rescue breathing or CPR at the scene of a drowning event, they should always be taken to the emergency department for evaluation. If your child is having trouble breathing or other serious problems after a drowning, he or she will need to stay in the hospital for specialized care and treatment. However, if your child is looking well with normal vital signs and exam after observation in the emergency department, he or she can be safely sent home and will not suffer a drowning related death days or a week later.

Now that you have read this blog, you have the knowledge to keep your child and other important children in your life safe by using many layers of protection against drowning. Please share the word with others and have a safe summer!

For more information on drowning prevention, please visit the AAP Drowning Prevention Campaign toolkit at and for helpful articles on water safety go to

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