Summer Guide: Ideas and Activities to Build Connection in Foster Families

summer fun - tennessee kids belong, foster friendly


Summer is a wonderful time to strengthen the bonds within foster families, creating a sense of belonging and connection. The warmer months offer countless opportunities for shared experiences and meaningful interactions that can help kids in care feel more at ease and secure in your home.

Camping trips, hikes and day trips can serve as a powerful way to connect. Gather around the campfire, explore a new park, visit splash pads or uncover something unexpected to enjoy a break from the norm. For a list of ideas – check out this cool list from Atlas Obscura!

Starting a garden can be both a relaxing and rewarding activity. Gardening teaches patience and responsibility while providing a common project everyone can take pride in. New to gardening? Start here!

Regular game nights can be a fun way to bond! Choose a variety of board games, card games or puzzles that everyone can enjoy. Don’t start with anything too competitive and have fun gathered around your kitchen table. We have found games like Connect 4 and Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza to be great ice breakers with kiddos 8+ at our I Belong Project Video Shoots!

Involve everyone in cooking or baking projects. Try out new recipes, bake cookies or even prepare a full meal together. This activity not only teaches valuable life skills, but can create space for talking, laughing, and working together. We love this collection of recipes from Taste of Home.

Did you know Tennessee Kids Belong has an app to support foster and kinship families? On it, you’ll find a variety of companies offering exclusive offers, experiences and resources to help foster parents. Download the app to build connection over meals, create fun memories at local attractions, capture sweet moments during photography sessions, heal with the help of trauma-informed counselors and so much more.

jump right in! image of children jumping into a poo. listen, try, adjust!

Set up an arts and crafts station where everyone can express their creativity. From painting and drawing to making jewelry or building models, these projects allow for individual expression while also providing time to work side-by-side. Displaying finished pieces around the house can give everyone a sense of pride and inclusion. Check out Art for Kids Hub on YouTube for inspiration.

Create a tradition of reading or journaling together. This activity can encourage a love for reading and writing, stimulate imagination, help process feelings and provide opportunities for discussion and connection. Visit your local library for summer reading programs and take advantage of apps like Libby (free with a library card). If you’re looking for books that include themes around foster care, take a look at this list from Good Reads.

Engage in activities like biking, swimming or playing sports. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress, build teamwork and improve overall health. It also offers a fun and dynamic way to spend time together. If you need supplies, check the Foster Friendly App for business partners like Play It Again Sports!

Host movie nights with a twist by setting up an outdoor screen in the backyard or a pillow fort indoors. Set up a popcorn and candy bar to make it extra sweet! Choose movies that everyone can enjoy or take turns sharing favorites to help build connection. Be sure to do your research and avoid any movies that may include triggering content for kids in your care.

Identify age-appropriate activities that align with what each unique kid in your care enjoys! Whether its reading comic books, collecting Pokemon cards, coding computer games, playing Nintendo Switch, redecorating their room, creating makeup looks, working on cars, making friendship bracelets, playing music… and whatever else… LISTEN! Come up with activities centered around what they love!

Stay tuned for upcoming resources on summer camps and travel tips!
And be sure to share your ideas in the comments. We’d love to learn from your experience.
Happy summer!

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