Making summertime memories with creativity

Making summertime memories with creativity

Hooray for summertime fun!  What memories have you and your family made this summer?  What opportunities have you and your family experienced together? Summer vacations can be packed with exciting adventures and experiences that include learning for the entire family.  Some of the best summer memories are made together as a family.  It is not too late to plan some smart summer fun that your family can do before the school bell rings.

Even while the kids are on summer break, it is so important that learning and growing continues. Families who take annual summer vacations together are very fortunate. Road trips to the mountains to hike and fish, swimming and sailing at the beach or even a visit to Walt Disney World to see Mickey Mouse and friends are getaways that are enjoyed by many families when school is not in session. Summer travels provide new experiences. Not everyone is fortunate to do so.

Providing opportunities to grow together as a family is so essential. Mastering new skills, over the summer builds confidence in children, while providing new learning and enrichment. It does not require the need to spend a fortunate on airline tickets and tanks of gas for an expensive family vacation. No travel is required. With some planning, a few items and a little creativity, you and your family can celebrate the somewhat slower pace of summer together, while making memories, and acquiring new skills and concepts.

Consider some ideas for a fun Backyard Blast. Pitch a tent in the backyard. The kids might want to build a tent of their own, using a blanket on clothesline. Grab a sleeping bag, some blankets and pillows, a favorite stuffed animal and a flashlight or a lantern.  Create an outdoor reading adventure for the entire family. Enjoy reading a stack of books under the stars.  Talk about the books that you read.  Jumpstart a conversation by asking, Who was your favorite character?  Describe your favorite character. What was your favorite part of the book?  When could you use the information that you just read? Would you recommend this book to a friend?  Why or why not?  How would you change the ending? Do you want to read more books by this author? Was this book easy, just right, or challenging?

What kid doesn’t like to explore and hunt for found objects?  Kids love new discoveries. Organize a Scavenger Hunt. Collect and then hide various items throughout the backyard in advance. Make sure curious eyes do not see the adult hiding the objects!  Give each child a small container or paper bag to collect their found treasures. Be in touch with nature by searching for rocks, a bird feather, a flower, a pinecone or even a three leaf clover.

For older kids, make it more challenging. For example, instruct explorers to collect five different types of leaves from a deciduous tree or locate three types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. After all objects are located, identified, sorted and counted, discuss each item. Ask questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why and How? Encourage additional learning by reading nonfiction books, with information about the wonders of nature.  Write about and record new discoveries in a journal. Be creative and make it fun for all.

Perhaps a few purchases are in your budget for a box of new markers, a beach ball, a book, a baseball, a new jump rope or even a pair of sunglasses for the kids. These prizes, too, can be hidden outdoors, making the kids search. Children can be given oral directions to listen, do and find. You may want to consider having the kids follow your lead.  Older boys and girls can be given a clip board with written instructions to follow.  Be sure to include the directions, North, South, East and West.  Positional words such as, under, over, on top of, forward, through, right and left are excellent words for kids to listen and follow. Adding instructions that require kids to show action, such as, hop to, slide down, jump up, march ten times and skip to the tree, will keep the little ones on the go, while searching for found treasures. If it is raining, turn on some music and conduct the hunt indoors. Once these summer surprises are found, the fun continues while playing a game of baseball with the new baseball or illustrating a picture for a story with the set of new markers.

Get creative with cardboard boxes. So much creativity and endless hours of entertainment can be had with boxes of all shapes and sizes. Check with your local home improvement store or even a furniture store for the possibility of free boxes. Assist a younger child by creating a car or truck out of a medium size box.  An adult can cut a flap or two to make doors for the pretend vehicle. Encourage the child to decorate the cardboard car using crayons and markers.  Children may want to create a personalized