Ideas for Summer Activities for Chicago Kids

If you’re like many parents during the pandemic, you’ve spent a lot of the last year with your children.

Now that summer is here and vaccinations are widely available, it’s time to start thinking about how to make the best of the first season resembling freedom in over a year and a half.

Maybe you want some time to yourself, or maybe you want ideas for fun activities that you can do together — outside of the house you’ve been stuck in together.

Whatever you’re looking for, The Windy City is clearly intent on emerging from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic as fast as possible, and there are many great opportunities to learn, grow and have fun, said Thomas Kane, a Chicago private wealth manager and aficionado of the city’s many cultural offerings.

“This is a time not only to give our kids a better life than they’ve had for the last year, but to come together as a city, and find ways to reignite the fellowship that defines a healthy community,” Thomas Kane said.

Time Capsule Project

The pandemic has been tough on kids. They haven’t seen friends or family, been able to attend school or play sports, or even go outside much of the time.

Your kids likely have a lot of feelings and thoughts about their experiences over the last year, and may not have had many opportunities to express those feelings.

That’s why Chicagoans Stacey Gillett and Stephanie Hodges, who have backgrounds in urban innovation, created Once Upon Our Time Capsule during the worst of the pandemic.

In the public art program, students in grades K-8 from 77 neighborhoods around Chicago are encouraged to reflect on their pandemic lives. What challenges have they faced? What joys did they find amidst the turmoil? What hopes do they have for the future?

The program encourages them to transform those stories and memories into art, be it a drawing, a poem, a story, a video, a song, a sculpture or something else. And then to post it to the Once Upon Our Time Capsule website.

“Chicago is known internationally for innovation, culture, the arts, and yes, its ‘big shoulders,’” Hodges said in a release. “Today, children are getting permission to climb and ride way up high on those big shoulders, where they can better see themselves, and for the rest of the world to see them. We hope the entire city will get behind this project, to make Once Upon Our Time Capsule a national model and show the world how Chicago came together and used the arts and creative storytelling to help its children unpack, heal and move forward from the past year.”

Summer school

Attending school in-person has become a distant memory for an entire generation of young Americans living through the pandemic.

But now summer school is back. The pandemic is hardly over, merely in remission, so the decision about whether to send a child back to school is one that every family must make for itself.

However, for families with vaccinated children who are comfortable sending them off to school, it could be a great thing for both children in need of interaction and a practical way to jump back into in-person education.

In the most recent federal pandemic relief package, the Biden administration is requiring states to devote some of the billions of dollars of funding to summer school programs.

The U.S. Education Department said it is too early to know how many students will sign up, according to a WTTW article.  But the number will likely exceed the estimated 3.3 million who went to mandatory or optional summer school in 2019, before the pandemic, the article said.

Children’s choir

There’s tons of new programs sprouting up in local Chicago neighborhoods to bring people together.

Case in point, The Chicago Children’s Choir has started performing again as part of the Chicago Alfresco program, which has given money to many Chicago neighborhoods.

The Austin Chamber of Commerce is using its $120,000 grant from the program to boost neighborhood tourism with the help of local artists and musicians, including young people showcased in the Chicago Children’s Choir.

Check in with your local neighborhood association or Chamber of Commerce. Or check out a local calendar of events. It’s easy to forget after a year of isolation, but the United States is emerging from the worst of the pandemic.

For many of us, it’s finally time to go out again.