Summer's half over? Says who? Some of us are just getting into the swing of vacation! No one wants to contemplate summer's end when it seems like the fun has only just begun. If you agree, just look away quickly, put your fingers in your ears and sing "lalala."
On the other hand, summer vacation for parents with small children is something of an oxymoron. Those of us who have been keeping the kids
busy and amused for the past month are well aware of how many more days remain on the calendar until school starts. We've been cooking up outings, activities, visits to friends and relatives, not to mention picnics and meals, and, frankly, we're a bit exhausted! Most of all, we're in need of some new ideas for making the most of our remaining days of summer.
And how better to find a few fresh ideas than by asking our fellow Savvy parents? Here's what they suggest:
Create a homemade seashell picture frame to remember your precious memories at the beach. Collect a variety of seashells from your summer vacation at the beach, and then glue them onto a simple frame for decoration.
Who needs a watering can in the summer when your child can water the pots/plants with a homemade watering can? You kids will love doing this! Take an empty and clean gallon-size plastic milk jug. Poke holes towards the bottom of the container with a hammer and nails. Then take your watering can outside, fill with water, and let your child have fun watering the flowers, the yard, the sidewalk, or your feet.
Go for a summer walk through the neighborhood and point out the changes since spring and winter, or have you child point out the changes, if he or she is old enough. This works with any season and is a great way to teach your child about seasons and the passage of time.
Help your child make a bug-catching jar for your next walk or park outing. Begin by cleaning an empty plastic peanut butter jar. Soak the jar in water to remove the label. Then, cut a few holes in the lid with a knife or utility scissors. You can then let your child write his or her name on the outside with a permanent marker—or scribble a few designs, if he or she's not writing yet. Grab your bug catcher, and head outside to see what you can find!
Go on a nature hike with your child and find ten twigs of equal lengths (about 10-12 inches). Paint each stick a different color. After letting the paint dry, have one person hold all the sticks over floor and drop them. Take turns trying to remove sticks without moving any of the other sticks. Players can keep the sticks they pick-up without moving others.If any stick in the pile is moved, the player must stop trying to pick up the stick and the 2nd player gets a turn. The "winner" is the player who has the most sticks after all sticks in the pile have been picked up.
As the weather starts to warm up, spend some time outdoors with your child on a clear night. Lie on a blanket with your child and look up at the nighttime sky. Count at least 20 stars. Talk about the shape of the moon. Teach your child how to wish on a star with "Star Light, Star Bright." Sing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" with your younger child. If your child is older, you can talk about the differences between planets and stars (Venus and Mars are great ones to start with because they look like stars in our sky) and how some of the stars have been grouped together to form constellations. If your child loves pirates, you should also tell your child how sailors used the constellations to guide them through their travels.
Go on a nature walk with your preschooler. While on your walk, collect leaves, stones, flowers, and bark. Let your child pick up different objects that represent the nature in your area. Put one of each nature item in a quart-size ziploc bag and seal. Label each bag with a Sharpie (e.g. "Yellow flower"). Tape the bottom side of all 4 bags together with colored painters tape. Now you have a book where you and your child can read and "open" or unzip the pages. Not only will you build your child's vocabulary and reading skills, but you can also learn about all the different trees and flowers in your neighborhood.
You won't need to disturb the neighbors with a nature scavenger hunt you can do right in your own backyard. For even more fun, head to your local park or botanical garden. See if your child can find the following: smooth rock, bumpy rock, green leaf, leaf with bug holes, "needle" leaf, insect, flower, broken branches, animal footprints, bird nest, ant hill, feather, water, and a bird. Look up, down, and all around, and take the time to point out interesting discoveries with your child!
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