Summer Activities for 4-Year-Olds

By Erica Loop
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When the weather gets warm and the preschool closes for the season, it's time to come up with some action-packed summer activities for your 4-year-old. While your little one isn't quite ready to ship off to a sleepover summer camp, you can find an array of day programs or create your own activities to pass the time in educational and entertaining ways.

Museum Camps

If you are looking for summer activities that also add in a pinch of learning, museums provide a variety of programs for preschoolers during the warmer months. Whether your pint-sized paleontologist can't get enough of his dinosaur play times or your mini Monet constantly asks to paint pictures, museums can provide hands-on educational opportunities that will do much more than keep your child busy. For example, the Delaware Museum of Natural History offers half-day, Monday through Friday summer camps specifically for 4-year-olds. Topics for this, and similar museum camps, cover areas such as dinosaurs, bugs and the ocean. Kids who are interested in exploring the arts can enjoy an art museum-based summer camp, like the half-day weeklong program at the Dallas Museum of Art. This artsy activity for preschoolers includes experimenting with processes such as painting as well as viewing real art in the museum's galleries.

Community Camps

Kids who are used to the structure and schedule-packed days of activities that preschool provides may respond well to a community camp program. If you are looking for an activity that will entertain your child, engage her in an array of age-appropriate activities and add a social aspect to her summer, a local playground or community center program is an easy option. For example, the Norridge Park District in Illinois operates a summertime preschool park camp for kids ages 3 through 5. This camp, like others of its kind, provides preschoolers with half-day fun in the community pool and playground, as well as crafts, storytimes and other outdoor activities.

Movement and Physical Activities

Instead of pulling your hair out over your 4-year-old's seemingly boundless amounts of energy, try a creative movement, dance or sports program especially for preschoolers. You can sign your child up for a summer dance camp that features creative movement or pre-ballet activities. For example, the California Ballet School offers weeklong beginner ballet camps for kids as young as 4 that include basic dance instruction and movement activities. Preschoolers who would rather play baseball over ballet dancing may enjoy a summer sports program. Many local community recreation departments offer summertime t-ball, soccer or mixed-athletics league activities that will get your 4-year-old active and help him to learn about team play.

At-Home Art Activities

While camps and paid programs certainly have their place in your preschooler's summer fun, you don't have to send her somewhere else to engage in awesome warm-weather activities. You can create your own arsenal of at-home activities for your young child to do anytime she wants. Take an artist's easel outside, tack up a piece of paper and let your little one draw a backyard summer scene with crayons or markers. Another artsy option is to fill spray bottles with washable liquid tempera and water and let her "graffiti" an old bed-sheet while outdoors. If the heat is too high or it's raining, take the art-making indoors and create a summer collage by cutting apart themed pictures from magazines and gluing them to a cardboard base.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.