One of the best ways to have natural fun in the summer is to have a mix of spontaneous and planned activities for your kids to enjoy. Summer is all about FUN…kids are out of school (unless you homeschool) and the weather is great. The days are also long so there is plenty of time to pack a summer full of activities.
First you’ll want to see what planned activities your kids will be involved in. For instance if they’ll be taking swimming lessons or day camps look at what their days or weeks will be like and coordinate schedules with friends and family who may have kids that will want to join your kids for some planned and not so planned fun.
Summer time marks the return of birds and all kinds of wildlife that was either hibernating or away for much of the winter. Take the time to teach your kids to watch and record the wonderful changes happening around them. My kids and I can’t get enough of this. We can just meander outside all day looking at spring blossoms and all the life bubbling over after a long winter. Today we spent quite a bit of time trying to find the source of a lovely black licorice smell. It was divine…I wish I knew what tree was responsible so I could plant ten more of them!
This is not only fun but a great learning opportunity especially if you home school your kids. Have your kids write down and catalog the types of birds in their yard or neighborhood. If you have mature trees where you live it can be a wonderful activity to watch the various types of birds that are attracted to your trees and garden. Right now we are seeing Cardinals and Blue Jays and some unidentified yellow and brown birds that seem to love our birdhouses.
To attract more birds, do some research with your kids to determine the kinds of seeds preferred by various birds. You might even take a trip to the library to make this a really interesting research project.
Some local bird feed and pet stores can be a wealth of information about seeds and the types of birds that are indigenous to your area. Talk to these store owners and consider some of their suggestions. Obviously they’ll be able to offer bird attracting devices like bird houses, bird baths and all the different types of bird feeders you need to consider when trying to attract certain types of birds to your property or home area. Our yard is filled with them…seriously we have probably a dozen birdhouses and another dozen feeders.
Still keeping with the topic of wildlife, why not plan to make a few trips to the zoo this summer. Take a little different approach than the usual stroll through the pavilions. Spend some time getting to understand each animal’s habitat. Ask your children to tell you what they find interesting and unique about the wonderful and exotic that have been gathered at your local zoo for their enjoyment and education.
Encourage your kids to interpret their perspective of animal life by drawing pictures of the animals they see at the zoo. That kind of activity makes the experience more meaningful and it will provide and interesting record in the years to come. I have seen kids doing this at the zoo before and thought it was awesome. Who knows…your child may develop such an interest in the animals they focus upon that they’ll end up wanting to support initiatives that help to protect these animals in other parts of the world where they may be endangered.
Another idea for summer fun activities is going to a local state park. The beaches, trails, camping and boating would definitely keep the kids entertained for quite some time. Most parks let them bring their bikes as well and biking is great exercise.
We can’t forget that summer is also the best time for great outdoor activities that don’t require 30- minutes of gear preparation! A bathing suit and towel are the basics for a great day of swimming or running through the sprinkler. If you don’t have your own pool make sure you get the schedule for your nearest community center pool and arrange it so that your kids can swim regularly. It’s great exercise and it is a good way to ensure that your kids get the experience and teaching they need to play safely around water. Don’t forget the non toxic sunscreen. My kids will NOT be bored in this regard. Their grandparents bought them a Vortex Spin Slide and Pool. This thing is MASSIVE…but they are going to love it.
One of the age old activities that kids have done in the summer months to wile away the hours is to create a skit involving neighborhood children. Electronic games and TV may have placed a damper on this activity in recent decades, but with the renewed emphasis on physical activity you have an opportunity to get your kids involved in this kind of creative fun once again. Help them along by suggesting venues (the backyard deck), theme ideas and suggestions for a script, costumes and the creation of a “kids’ promotion team” to advertise the play to neighbors and friends. Need cool props? Check out this play parachute and these playsilks.
Most importantly though…enjoy the summer fun!
When it comes to summer vacation, one thing is for sure, parents always get worried about keeping their kids occupied and kids just want to have fun. Keep these simple things in mind when planning your summer: Kids want to get wet, be outside and have their friends around, with these in mind, you are good to go when it comes to planning.
Thursday, May 8th, 2008