It’s that time of year. School is almost out… or out for some kiddos already! What are we going to do to fill the extra time our children spend at home?
As a preschool teacher and a mom, I’m practically a pro at activities–some I prep way in advance, and some I do with my little ones on the fly. When the June and July months start creeping up, I think, “What holidays are on the horizon? What weather can we work with? What craft supplies do I have on hand?”
Fourth of July
Ahh, summer. It’s the perfect time of the year to do so much. I love to let the kids make their own flags! Put out a bunch of different colors and let them be creative! Let them know they are making a flag that is all about them! You can also have them create a flag of the USA. Then you can hang them all around for decoration on the the 4th of July.
Want to do some 4th of July math activities? How about making patterns with red, white and blue paper squares? When making your fruit pizza, have the kids make a pattern of fruit in the shape of the flag. Or make a cake, frost it, and cover in rows of red, white, and blue m&m’s, patterning along the way.
Take the kids outside! Give them chalk and have them write patriotic messages on the sidewalk! Have them do something nice for a neighbor (or yourself!). Hang the flags they made outside your house for all to see!
Done with that?
Finger painting is a fun texture activity! Let them create freely. Some kids will go all in and paint over all the surfaces (even themselves!) and some will only use one finger.
Once the finger painting pictures are dry, cut them into fun shapes and have the kids string them together to make a hanging decoration. Or have them place them on another piece of paper as another art project!
Visit a nursing home, a neighbor, grandparent, or someone in the hospital. Holidays, including birthdays, are a wonderful time for some, and a hard time for some. For those we know it’s hard for, how about drawing a picture, writing a letter or card, or just visiting that person? Time doing a puzzle, talking, coloring, eating, playing, doesn’t take much time, but it could mean the world to that someone.
We all well know that in Duluth, it can be hot, cold, raining, foggy, hailing, all in the same day. What’s the famous quote we all use? Oh yeah… “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes!” That is so true! It also can be “If you don’t like the weather, just DRIVE 20 minutes!” Sometimes, it is just driving up or down the hill to see a difference on your thermometer. I say to you, let’s use this weather to our advantage.
When the temps spike, use it to your advantage. Have you seen one of those 10,000 lakes we have here? Use them! Just a dip in one can cool the kids off nicely. How about putting out a sprinkler in the backyard? A kiddie pool? A hose? Water balloons? Everyone loves water games! Dry off and eat some watermelon, grill out, and slurp down a scoop of ice cream.
Craft supplies or recycling?
You know how I said sometimes activities depend on what craft supplies you have on hand? Yeah, I have a confession to make: occasionally, my supplies come out of my recycling bin. Those boxes and cans are often more exciting than any fancy toy or amazing art paper out there! When my oldest was 2, my hubby built her a “duplex” with our carseat boxes. It had windows and everything. We let her decorate with paper scraps, crayons and markers. The designs were inside and outside the box. It was fabulous!
On another day, my kiddos and I were aching for summer fun, but it was too hot for tender skin (I can’t believe I said that!). We wanted the beach. I wanted to feel the heat of the sun and the sand on my toes (isn’t there a country song about that?). Instead, I got the car cooled a bit, put the kids in, and drove to the store to buy sand. I felt kinda crazy buying sand when we have beaches full of it, but hey, I’m mommying here! We came home, filled up an extra large tub I had in storage, and let them go to town in the kitchen. Spoons, bowls, cups, paper towel tubes, and bath toys were all thrown in. It was a great day.
Butterflies are out, and my kids love watching them flutter around the house. It’s a great time for them to make their own recycled butterfly. Save a few of your toilet paper tubes, add scrap paper and pipe cleaners, and design a butterfly! If you want to go through the metamorphosis process with them, create a caterpillar first. My favorite way is to glue pom poms to the top of a clothespin. Once dry, use as a caterpillar. When you think it’s “ready” to go into its chrysalis, wrap it up with toilet paper and put it inside an empty roll. While the caterpillar is going through its “changes”, create art on a coffee filter with markers and spray water gently on it. Let it dry. When the butterfly is ready to come out, while your kiddo is not looking, take the clothespin caterpillar out, unwrap, and stick the coffee filter inside the clothespin! Now it’s a butterfly!
Instead of having your kids pick flowers this summer, why not make flowers? An easy one to start with includes cutting out a variety of flower petals, and circles for the middles. Let you kiddo build their own flower by putting these shapes together. Glue them onto another sheet or have them be free, so you can hang them on the windows or walls.
Need some nature art time? Take paper and paint to your local wooded area or backyard. Find sticks, leaves, flowers, and use them to paint. No paint brushes needed! I suggest bringing a plastic bag for your dirty bowls of paint; you don’t want to carry all that back one at a time.
You know what I found out? That my kids just like to be with me. To play with me. To cuddle with me.
For Christmas this year, we bought the kids some old board games I hadn’t played in years. It was so fun! My oldest loved it, making just a few games turn into a full blown tournament! We then searched the closet for other forgotten games. This was great, because now my oldest is teaching my youngest how to play these games. Sometimes I play and sometimes I just listen and watch. Do you ever just listen when they think you can’t hear them? Try it!
I hope there are a few ideas for you to try when your kids are driving you crazy… or you’re driving yourself crazy! And as always….MOM ON!