Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer of Free!

My weekend post was interrupted by several electrical outs--sorry for the delay.

Summer is winding down...but possibly not winding down fast enough for some parents out there...

From my own child's mouth as well as my own memories--this is the portion of the summer when ultimate boredom prevails and nothing but 'ultra-expensive summer adventures' will cure this ailment.  While there may be a time and place for these 'ultra-expensive summer adventures,'  those parents trying to keep their wallets intact for the last leg of this marathon will have to look to other sources of fun....  I've got just what the doctor ordered and I hope these ideas will inspire you to create some free fun!

Preschoolers to Early Elementary
**For all water activities please be safe and supervise your children.

Paint the Driveway...Sidewalk...Deck...
1. Bucket(s) of water
2. Old paint rollers-rolling pads and/or paint brushes

Let your kids "paint" the driveway (or other flat surfaces) with water by the time they are finished they will need to "paint" it all over again.

"Water Table"  (A new water table will set you back $50 to $70...this activity is just as fun for your little gals and guys and is virtually free.)
1. Any large and fairly deep (5" for depth or so) kid friendly vessel to hold water (dish washing tub, pot or pan, plastic bowl, Tupperware, etc)
2. Water
3. Bubbles or dish liquid soap for bubbles
4. A table small enough a child could stand at it and play inside the water vessel (we take our kid's art/play table outside for this--it was a garage sale find at $3) or a kids plastic wading pool flipped over to create a flat surface
5. Water friendly toys or plastic dishes

This activity is best done outside.  Fill up your vessel with water and bubbles place on a table or your flipped over wading pool (at the edge so the kids can reach) and throw in a few toys or plastic dishes.  Let the kids enjoy.

Nature Walk

1. Able feet 
2. A magnifying glass (optional)
3. Journal (optional)

The world at large is vast and amazing (sometimes we forget this as adults).  Take a stroll with your kids and let them explore the world at large (get down on their level for the best viewing experiences).  There is some pretty amazing stuff to explore..there are even ecosystems in 'waste'...but you may not want to get that natural on your first go.  Have your elementary age child write and draw about what he/she saw--preschoolers can of course journal too through their own drawings and some help from an adult.  

Additional activities:
sidewalk chalk; picnic (let your child plan the picnic meal and help prepare the food);  lemonade stand (we do this and let our child donate the money to a charity);  catching and releasing fireflies; walk to the park or go for a bike ride; pick vegetables in your garden or at a u-pick farm/orchard; pick a bouquet of wild flowers;  read books outside under a tree; make a 'campfire' (a citronella candle will do) and sing camp songs (campfire songs); pool time (a wading pool for a small child can be made out of under bed storage bins or other shallow vessel--please be sure to never leave your child unattended when playing in or near water); go for a 'gem hunt' (rock hunt)--older kids may want to learn about what type of minerals they have found

Early Adolescents

My Pet Rock
1. Rock
2. Paint
3. Paper and pens (optional)
Who needs Fido when you can have a pet rock...let your child go back in time with the rage of yesteryear by creating and owning his/her first pet rock.  The original Pet Rock had an owner's manual.  After the painting  is done have your child create an owner's manual.  Don't forget to have them create some pets for their friends and family too.  

Water Park or Water Olympics
1. Imagination
2. Hose and/or sprinkler
3. Cups and other containers
4. Water guns, wading pool, buckets, sponges, balloons, tarp etc. (anything on hand--the list can be varied and endless)

Have your child design a water park out of items from home.  If he/she has younger siblings or neighbors make that the goal--to entertain the younger crew with a day at the 'water park'--a day in the 'water park' doesn't have to be expensive if you go this route.  If the child is older and wants to play with his/her friends have the group come up with 'Water Olympic' events.  A tarp and hose can be made into a slip and slide.  Sponges dipped in buckets make a great game of toss or "dodge sponge."  The ideas are endless and your child will have a great time and a great opportunity to use her/his imagination.

Flashlight Tag
1.  Flashlight

The objective of this game is for the person who is "It" to tag the other players with her/his flashlight.  The rules of course can vary for this game--you're tagged you're out or you're not out if someone untags you, etc.  This can be done in your own backyard or if it is safe throughout the neighborhood.

Additional activities:  be Picasso (use any medium to create art--today the neighborhood girls were painting old boards and they were really quite pretty and would look nice in a garden); bird hunt--pick a particular local species and see how many times you can spot this type of bird or find a more difficult little bird-y to "hunt"--the first one to find it wins; listen to a book on tape/CD together (this really enjoyable for a family to do on trips in the car and can offer a lot of great discussion); watch the meteor shower around August 13th (or star gaze any other clear night--look up seasonal constellations for your area to find); play board games; build a solar oven and cook in it (Solar Oven Directions); pitch a tent in your own backyard; pick up cans and turn them into scrap or if your area has a deposit turn them in (buy an ice cream with your earnings);  make homemade ice cream in a bag (I used to do this in college--fun stuff) (Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag Recipe)

When all else fails you can do as I do...I offer my daughter the toilets to clean for entertainment...somehow the boredom always disappears!

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