School’s about to be out for the year, which means it’s time to get ready for summer family activities.
Summer family activities can include staycations as well as paid vacations. Whatever you are interested in doing with your family, plan out your three-month summer vacation calendar. In doing so, you’ll have a roadmap of things ahead. This is the time to do exciting things with your family to create happy memories.
When Keenan (my second-born) was 3 years old, we created a city made out of cardboard boxes. I got 2 or 3 refrigerator boxes and together we planned out what Keenanville would look like. After we talked about how he wanted his land to be and planned the buildings and establishments he wanted in it, then I cut out the boxes. Though our cardboard city was inside the house, you could make your cardboard city in the garage to protect it from any inclement weather days.
He helped me tape together and assemble the very basic cardboard buildings and the amusement park. Then, of course, they needed to be decorated. So we got out crayons, permanent markers, white glue and paper. We drew pictures on the paper and glued them to the inside.
Some of the pictures were groceries for the grocery store and books in the library. We drew a mural on the inside walls of the cardboard slide, which was very sturdy boxes taped together. The cardboard slide was so sturdy I could get in it to slide down, as well as Keenan being able to slide down it. It never occurred to me to take pictures of it, otherwise I would share them here.
Whatever you decide to create, let your imagination run wild. Remember, the greatest gift you can give your child is contributing your time to them. Stay active in their activities. Always take an interest in what they are doing. You are a personal coach for them, providing guidance so they can see the value in doing wholesome activities that are safe and fun.
Here are some other helpful ideas you can use to plan ahead of time to get the most out of your summer:
- Give your children time to unwind from a school day regimen. For several months, the school day schedule ruled your family’s life. With summer about to arrive on the scene, remember this is a child’s time to unwind and take a breath. For some children, rigid school schedules can be unnerving. Just as we all need a vacation from work sometimes, children need a vacation from their work – which is school!
- Encourage active learning involving their natural abilities, capabilities, interests, likes and talents. Just because school is out, your children still love to learn. So, come up with activities that spark what they naturally like to do, or build character and skills for life. For example, attending Girl Scout or Boy Scout day camp can be opportunities for your little ones to build skills in a fun way. It also is an opportunity to volunteer your time to be involved in your child’s life. Nothing makes a stronger bond with your child than spending time with him or her.
Consider taking even one day of vacation to be a volunteer teacher at day camp with your child. When you model giving your time to your child, your child grows up feeling wanted and genuinely loved. Your child also feels respected and accepted for who they are. Nothing could help a child feel more secure than when you stay active in their summer activities.
- Build reading, writing and storytelling into the family’s summer activities. Your local library can help you in this area. In Northeast Ohio, the library system offers many different kinds of FREE learning and entertaining activities that fit every family’s budget.
Encourage your children to develop the skill of storytelling. This can help them as they mature and develop life skills like giving public presentations. Feeling comfortable telling an entertaining and/or “edutaining” story before an audience can be further used in a career when they are teens and adults.
Model edutaining (entertainment and educational) storytelling by doing it with your children. Get excited as you share historical information about what the founding fathers did during early America, stories about inventors, or stories about what your ancestors did to thrive and survive challenging times in their lives. Storytelling is a great confidence-building skill for yourself or your children.
Don’t think you can tell a story that keeps the interest of others? The library has books on how to do it and on how to get over your fear of public speaking. (Or, if you need help reducing/eliminating your public speaking fear, please contact me for a personal training session.)
- Organize a neighborhood scavenger game and regift night. This is another FREE (or almost free) fun summer family activity and gives you a chance to interact with the neighbors. Here’s how this might work. Each family represents one contestant. Prizes are things to be regifted that are family-friendly. Families participating in the scavenger hunt would create the items that would be collected for the scavenger hunt. One family’s house would be the starting point for the scavenger hunt. A different family’s house would be the ending point for the scavenger hunt, where there would be a cook-out for all participants. People can contribute regifting prizes and food to be cooked for the cookout, so costs are shared among the neighbors.
- Organize a neighborhood summer talent contest. Encourage and plan a neighborhood talent contest with neighbors performing their unique abilities. There could be singing, dancing, juggling, dog tricks… anything can be accepted as long as all acts have a “G” rating for families. You can turn the event into a food drive by requesting that all people in the audience “pay” for admission by bringing some canned goods that will then be donated to the local food bank.
Contact your local food bank and ask them if they’d be interested in promoting your event. Get the word out and be creative. This could be a summertime learning experience. Your children can write about it and give a report for the beginning of school when the teacher asks the children to share what fun things they did on their school vacation.
- Conduct a neighborhood cleanup event. Tell the local pizza shop you are planning to clean up the neighborhood for the 4th of July. Ask the shop if they would be willing to donate pizzas and drinks to participants in exchange for cleaning up around the pizza store. This could be an opportunity for the neighborhood to provide community service by extending the cleanup to seniors in the area who can’t do the cleanup themselves.
- Join Northeast Ohio Rocks on Facebook! In this group, you paint a rock with something uplifting and hide it somewhere in Ohio. Whomever finds your rock takes a picture of it and posts a picture of where they found it on the Facebook group wall. There are different chapters of this fun project. Check them out on Facebook to learn more.
- Organize a neighborhood tag night. Contact the neighbors and invite them to engage in a night of playing tag. This can be another night to get together for a community barbecue gathering or a popcorn party after the game is over.
- Organize and invite the neighborhood to go on a brief cruise on the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie. Ever been aboard Cleveland’s largest sight-seeing vessel, the Goodtime III? It’s a great family activity and is very affordable. Prices range from $10-$18 per person.
Special Note About Safety
- Remember to get sunblock and apply it for outdoor time. The sun can provide nourishing vitamin D to us all. However, it can also burn us unless we take precautions when being outside. To protect yourself from getting wrinkled unnecessarily, burned, or causing pain from too much heat, use sunblock/sunscreen.
- Summer family activities almost always include getting soaked, dunked, doused, wet, sprinkled upon, etc. Enjoy being in and around the water — I encourage you to educate yourself and your children about being safe when in a swimming pool or lake. Parents can do simple things to protect their families from inadvertently being electrocuted around water. Electric shock drowning occurs in lakes or swimming pools due to faulty electrical wiring. You can take simple precautions to protect yourself and your priceless and adorable loved ones by reviewing information at this link about water electrocutions.
Most of all, enjoy your children. They grow up so fast. Now’s the time to play with them in the wonderful summertime.