Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello Summer! a.k.a. "What are We Going to Do Today, Mom?"

Here is a list I've been compiling for a few years of things we enjoy and the boys that is. My oldest has always been very eager to go, go, go and kept me on my toes for the first 5 years of his life. He challenged me to be creative and resourceful and find lots of things to do! I'm sure you probably have your own great ideas to add to the list. Leave your ideas as comments so we can all benefit from them! This is a picture of Kyler building with mini marshmallows and toothpicks.

Things to do at home:

[I keep an arts & crafts supply stash in the laundry room next to the kitchen complete with a basket full of scrap paper, coloring books, etc and a plastic drawer caddy full of stickers, stamps, stencils and other various artsy junk I collect for free or cheap along the way. One trick for younger kids & art on paper is to tape their paper to the table with masking tape. That way they don't get frustrated with the paper constantly moving and falling to the ground while they work.]

1. Make a birdfeeder – you can use an old, stale bagel or a pinecone. Slather it with peanut butter or coconut oil. Then, roll it in something birds like to eat. It could be cheap birdseed, sunflower seeds, nuts, etc. Then, tie a piece of yarn around the bagel/pinecone and hang it from a tree branch. Voila! [I get bags of cheap birdseed at Big Lots]

2. Make potato stamps – cut a potato in half. Pick out a couple cookie cutter designs and push them into the cut end of the potato. Cut around the potato to expose the shape of the cookie cutter. Use this to dip in the paint or pudding and let ‘em have at it. *Tip – I always tape down the corners of a large piece of craft paper on the table with masking tape. This keeps the paper from sliding and therefore keeps the kids from painting the table.

3. Make teddy bear wagons – have them pick out their favorite teddy bear (or other stuffed animal). You find an empty diaper box (or other such box a little bigger than a shoe box). Remove the flaps on top. Cover the sides with construction paper. Poke two holes in one side of the box near the top and thread some yarn through them. This will be the handle to pull the wagon with. Let your child decorate the wagon with dots to glue on, with markers or with curly ribbon. Let them come up with a name for it too. That is always fun!

4. Tissue paper flower pictures. Use some of your crumpled gift tissue paper. Tear off little pieces and twist them in your fingers. Let the kids put lots of glue on the craft paper and then let them stick the twisted tissue paper on the glue to make the blooms.

5. Fingerpaint with pudding. Self-explanatory. But, let me encourage you to use some natural pudding. There are brands of boxed pudding that don’t use food coloring or artificial flavoring in their pudding mix.

6. Each of my kids has their own sketch book. They can draw in it anytime they want. Kyler is 7 and has filled cover to cover at least 3, maybe 4 sketch books. I love to look back at his work.

7. Build a fort with the pillows. Sometimes my kids build a “zoo” in the living room. They use the pillows to make areas for each type of animal and either put their toy animals in the zoo or become animals themselves.

8. Cook with the kids. My kids have loved to help me cook since they were toddlers. I have a stepstool in the kitchen. They love to just pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and then stir it SLOWLY (must be emphasized to little boys). They especially love licking the spoon and eating the fresh-baked goodies. At holidays, do this with the kids and let them help you put them into pretty bags to give your friends.

9. Active indoor games: Throw the soft object (wad of paper, small pillow) into the bucket. See who can make the shot from furthest away. Make an obstacle course with household objects. Play “name that animal” – similar to charades, but the kids get to leave the room one at a time and come back in as an animal for all to guess.

Outdoor Adventures

1. Bubbles or chalk in the driveway. Don't forget to outline their body and let them decorate their outline.

2. Find a great, grassy hill and teach them to roll down it.

3. Nature Hunt – draw several natural objects on a piece of paper (for example – a rock, a leaf, a stick, a pinecone, a pine needle). Give it to your kids and their friends and tell them to find each object. Maybe have a prize!

4. Take their riding toys to a cool park with sidewalks or trails. Go riding. Make sure to bring water and snacks.

5. Pack a picnic and go anywhere! Even taking lunch to the backyard is more exciting than the usual kitchen table.

6. Check out a new park you’ve never been to.

7. Play mini golf. If you think your kid is too young, you may be surprised. I usually ask to not pay for the younger ones, but ask if they can have a stick so they feel included. They just run around and hit the ball and have no idea what the goal is, but they think it's super cool.

8. Leaf rubbings – collect leaves in the yard, or from a nature walk. On a hard surface, lay out the leaves and put some paper on top of them. Peel the paper off of some crayons and rub them horizontally across the paper to get the markings of the leaves.

9. Paint rocks – pretty simple, really.

10. Find a local farm. Usually they have farm animals for the kids to look at and feed for free. Sometimes they have pick-your-own berries or apples or a hayride. My boys used to love going to Parlee Farm and picking one, pick one, eat one pick one...

11. Check out your local mall and see if they have a kid’s club. Ours had a great one where kids got cheap meals, BOGO cookies, periodic activities. When I was pregnant, this was a nice break for me to walk around in the air conditioning and have lunch that I didn't have to make.

12. Visit the library and get their children’s schedule. They often have great storytimes or other activities for FREE. And if your kid is not one that will "sit" through a story, never fear because the sweet librarians seem to expect this and library storytimes are wonderfully full of songs with movements and wandering children. I used to be afraid to go because I thought my kid would be the only one who couldn't sit for a half hour.

13. Visit a Children’s Museum. I always google the name of the museum and the words coupon or discount to see if there is an online coupon out there. Often there is! For example, the Atlanta Children's Museum has Target free Tuesday (free admission) starting in the afternoon of the second Tuesday of each month.

14. Lookout for outdoor kid’s concerts or free activities. East Cobb Park in Marietta offers a free outdoor concert with Jay Memory every Wednesday from 4-7pm. We often take a picnic (or pick up Papa Johns) and go have dinner at the park.

15. Let them do ART...outside of course! My oldest is especially inclined to art projects. He is always entertained by a drawing pad or better yet a set of paints. The younger set is easily entertained on the back porch with homemade chocolate pudding and a big, white sheet of thick paper to finger paint on. The most excellent thing about outdoor art is that it (and the kid) can be cleaned up with the hose!

16. Find a free public water park. We used to go to one in Dracut, MA that was a lot of fun. I haven't found an official one in Georgia, although I have heard rumors of one. However, we have been to Centennial Olympic Park downtown and were surprised to find out that you CAN play in the sprinkler display there. It was so much fun.

1 comment:

  1. These are great SArah!!
    Feet paint with long sheets of paper and finger paint, let the kids run up and down the paper... best done outside!!
    we joined an attraction each year when our girls were young... it gave the kids a focus and is an inexpensive way to really explore an area of history/science etc. One visit can seem outrageously expensive, but if you break the year's membership down to per visit, it is so unbelievably cheap. When our grandkids moved to GA it was too late to sign up for pre-school, so we bought the whole family memberships to the zoo, aquarium and "dinosaur" museum... gave them the chance to learn, have fun and get to know the area (and bring along a few friends)!