The weather’s heating up. The trees and flowers are in full bloom. Blue skies and afternoon breezes. Who doesn’t love summer? We know your kids do. No more long days at school. No more riding the bus. No more homework! For kids, summer offers the promise of two months of unending bliss.
For parents, however, summer vacation can be a bit more complicated. Don’t get us wrong, we know you love having your children home: the extra time with them, the family trips, the opportunity to create lasting memories as you watch them grow up. But. Let’s be honest. Two months is a long time, and young children can’t just supervise themselves for eight hour stretches. If your kids are big readers, that’ll help, but it still won’t be enough. No, if you want summer vacation to be memorable, not to mention survive it with your sanity still intact, you’ve got to have a game plan. You have to line up a series of compelling activities to get through the hours and days that stack up each week. Either that, or plop them in front of the TV until their brains rot. We know you don’t want that!
We know the prospect of all those hours and days can be daunting. But fear not. We’re here to help. Read on for a few of our favorites summer projects to do with your kids.
Treasure hunt. The weather’s fine and the kids are full of energy. No better time to get them out of the house so they can run around. So take them to the park. Usually, the playground will prove exciting enough, but it you want to do something special for the little ones, put together a treasure hunt. You can do it like this: grab dozen-size egg cartons for each of the kids and cut off the lids. In each of the indentations, put an image of something they can hunt for around the park. This might be a picture of a feather or a fallen leaf (you can print these pictures off the internet or cut them out of magazines). You can even bring along small prizes for them once they find everything: say, a Matchbox car or a cake-pop.
Indoor gardening. Say what? Well, listen. We love gardening, and getting your kids out in the sun to work on the yard with you will always be one of our favorite summer projects. But sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate. Maybe thunder storms have rolled in or a wicked heat wave has made it all but impossible to work out in the sun. These things happen, but they don’t have to get in the way of developing your kids’ green thumbs.
Here’s how we do it: Buy a decent sized fish bowl, some gravel, and planting soil. You’ll also want a few small plants. Let the kids choose the plants and do all the work as you guide them. It’s simple enough: gravel first, then soil, the plants, then some more gravel for looks. Layer in some moss for an extra pop of green. When you’re all done, give your indoor garden a home where it will get adequate sunlight, and make it a daily ritual to water the plants together.
Bird feeders. We don’t know about you, but we love birds. Whether it’s listening to birdsong or watching the simple beauty of them in flight, we find it hard not to take joy in their very existence. (Except crows, that is. We hate crows.) To instill that love in our children and teach them about giving back to nature, we built birdfeeders with our kids. It’s simple enough. Grab a few empty one-gallon plastic milk jugs and rinse them out. Then, with safety scissors, let your kids cut a large hole on one side of the jug. Fill with birdseed, hang from the nearest tree, and enjoy watching our feathered friends fill their little bellies. As an added bonus you can create a sign together, something like “Birds Welcome!” or “Feeding Station.” (This works well for gardens too. Kids love making signs and decorating!)
There you go. Three summer projects to keep your kids away from the TV this summer and help you stay sane. We know your kids will love them, and we hope you do too!