Summer Outdoor Fun
Mom! I'm bored.
What to do, when there's nothing to do. Summer is the time when children can fill long hours with idle play, can run around the house all day. Inevitably, they come to you and say, "I'm bored." When my girls were school age, we created a list of things to do and placed it on our refrigerator each summer. They added things like, go to the movies, and I added chores.
This article is a chance for you to gain some ideas for fun things when you have fun out of fun ideas. Hope you pick a good one.
Gardening with Children.
Gardening with Children
- Let your children help plant, water & weed, and harvest the garden
- Give your child a small plot to call their own.
- Grow a green bean or cucumber tent (fix 4 bamboo poles together like a teepee and grow plants up the poles to create a tent)
- Create Fairy Gardens: Use the wooden bird houses from the dollar store; paint them and use as fairy houses. Collect pine cones, large seeds or nuts and rocks to create pathways and interesting decorations. Use the bottom of clay plant pots as water pools; add shells, etc. as your child finds items of to add.
- Visit a neighbor’s garden & ask them to show you around. Give tours of your own gardens
- Visit a community garden- help weed, water or harvest.
Glurch is fun inside or out.
- Sand box: fill an area with sand or go to nearest park. Add scoops, shovels, buckets, other plastic or metal containers, vehicles or
- Make Mud Pies: add spoons, sticks, pine cones, rocks and old tuna cans or pie tins.
- Bubbles: Use regular varieties from stores or make your own. See the side bar on Bubbles.
- Water play (there are so many varieties of water play. )
- Paint the side walk or house with water in an ice cream bucket and a large paint brush
- Fill a large tub with water & wash the outdoor toys
- Use a dish pan or small bucket and wash a doll or two, plastic animals or toy vehicles.
- Slip and Slide.
Sidewalk Chalk Ideas
- Trace your bodies and fill in clothing, jewelry, etc.
- Host an “artists” contest. Give each person a square to do their stuff. Judge and hand out prizes (popsicles, cookies, apples, etc.)
- Draw out a hopscotch grid and play hopscotch.
- Visit neighbors & friends and write a welcome home message in chalk on their step or front walk.
- Trace your feet. Make a trail of feet from the front of the house to the back, from one neighbor’s house to another, or from somewhere you came from to where you want to go.
- Draw a race track and have races: with tricycles, vehicles or people.
- Find or purchase a rope and do some jumping – as in jump rope.
- Walk around your neighborhood. Say “Hi” to everyone you see. Notice who is having work done. Note the progress on subsequent walks.
- Find a neighbor or friend and walk their dog.
- Look for coinage. There are pennies and other coins all over the place. Keep a “found money” jar and have all the family members add to it.** Note my poem: "They Call to Him"
- Look for flowers: each child picks a specific color. GO around the neighborhood and play “I spy”. Can the child find flowers or other things in his/her specific color?
- Count the cars (or trees) and run. Ask your child to count to the second or third car on the street and run that far. Have them run to the first tree they see. Then ask them to run past / just to/ even with the fourth car. (this teaches serial numbers in a fun way, gets out energy and helps them learn to stop at a designated spot.)
- Walk to the nearest coffee shop or bakery for a treat.
- Walk (ride bikes, roller skate, etc) to the area library & spend some time browsing through the stacks. Pack a lunch and picnic on the Library lawn.
- Walk around an area lake.
- Walk to the creek and explore.
- Take someone fishing in a nearby lake or stream.
Have a Tornado, Fire or Other Drill
- Tornado Drill: Spend some time gathering items for a tornado drill (snacks, a blanket, flashlights, radio, first aid kit, etc.)
- Decide and talk about where you will go: Into the basement under the desk, or someplace secure. Practice. Eat your snack while you are sitting in your secure place.
- Fire drills: pick a spot (usually across the street or two doors down). Talk about how you will find each other before you go out, how as kids get older, then you will all meet at this spot. Practice the fire drill. Everyone meet at the designated spot. Look at your house. Talk about what your house looks like.
- Who could your child visit if they were ever locked out? Walk around the neighborhood and meet a few people. Find out who is home during the day; who has children.
Safety and Security Plans
It is always good to be prepared. So this activity can be something you do as your children become five or older. Talk to your children about "what if" situations. "What if there was a fire, what would you do?", "What if mommy or daddy got really sick and couldn't wake up?" " What if there was a fire during the night while we were sleeping?"" What if someone came into our house without asking?" "What if there was a flood?"
These questions are not meant to frighten children, but begin the conversation for problem solving in an event that your family needs to move quickly.
Having a conversation with children is one thing to do. The second thing to do is to plan and practice being prepared so children have some sense of power in a scary time.
Have a yard party
- Bring a treat that you make to a neighbor.
- Bake cookies and bring some to an older person
- Bake brownies and bring some to a teenager
- Make Carmel corn and share a bag with a single person
- Bake a cake for someone’s birthday.
- Make PB & J sandwiches and gather a bit of fruit to bring to a parent with young children.
Or barter with a neighbor by trading your baked goods for their garden produce; shovel their walk for a couple hours of babysitting - figure out what you need and what you can offer to trade.
2. Offer to help an ill or elderly neighbor with gardening, raking or shoveling.
3. Share a lawn mower or snow blower with a neighbor - saves money and storage space.
4. Help babysit for a parent with young children.
5. Host a back yard gathering and invite everyone on the block. ( It could be a picnic,
a bar-b-que, a Tea party, or a marshmallow roast.)
Go Places Around Town (These may cost a bit.)
- Check out the area Farmer’s Markets
- Spend a day at the zoo.
- Visit a library. Take the bus downtown to the library, then eat at a food cart.
- Take the train to the Twins ball game.
- Go to area nature centers.
- Visit a museum. These are really fabulous on excruciatingly hot days.
- Fill your pockets with junk food and go to a matinee.
- Check out an area festival (in a nearby neighborhood or town – or even your own neighborhood)
San Francisco Exploratorium Bubbles
2/3 cup (Dawn) Liquid Detergent
1 TBLS. Glycerin (find it at the pharmacy)
Add enough water to the detergent to make a gallon of liquid. Add the glycerin and let the mixture sit out for one day. Stir well before using.
I make this in a used Ice cream bucket.
1 quart water
1/2 cup liquid detergent (Palmolive or Joy)
1/4 cup clear corn syrup
1 TBLS glycerin
Mix all ingredients together until the syrup dissolves. Let the solution stand overnight. Mix again thoroughly. This recipe produces bubbles that float longer than commercial products. Store the mixture in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
SUPER BUBBLE BREW
2 cups Joy liquid detergent
6 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients together and let stand at room temperature for 4 hours. This recipe keeps up to 5 days.
Use anything to blow bubbles - berry baskets, twisted wire coat hangers, six-pack rings, kitchen utensils, bubble pipes, wire or plastic rings, empty cans, or Styrofoam cups with the bottoms cut out, empty thread spools, yarn threaded through straws to make a big circle, or your own hands forming a diamond with thumbs and pointer fingers touching.
Inexperienced children can practice blowing through a straw into water before trying with bubble solution. Bubbles last longer on days with high humidity and not much wind. In Minnesota, try blowing bubbles in freezing weather. If you can get the bubbles to form they may freeze solid before hitting the ground. (Most often you cannot get bubbles in freezing weather because it is too dry.)
Try adding Liquid food coloring to your bubble solution and enjoy colored bubbles! Pour the bubble solution in a large dish pan or bucket and make big bubbles. On a very humid day, have a bubble blowing contest, or just see how long they will last, hanging in the air, floating along on a gentle breeze. Bubbles are fun, inside or out. But they are really super fun outside, with large quantities of bubble solution to use and a variety of things to make bubbles with.