By Berry Brady for NorthFulton.com
This summer will be different than usual. After the distance learning fatigue of the spring semester, a summer of fun is well deserved and very needed. This summer, creativity will be a key ingredient in your plans, which is why we are here to help you and your family get the most out of summer spent at home.
At High Meadows, a private International Baccalaureate school in Roswell, interactive learning is an essential ingredient. Lori Kennedy, Early Years Principal, and Annie Kimball, part-time Lower Years Drama teacher and Mornings on the Meadow toddler class leader, share what to keep in mind when planning your summer activities.
Create a Summer Fun List
Make planning a collaborative effort by involving the whole family! Kick-off the summer with a family meeting to discuss ideas about possible activities. Go the extra mile and create a poster board list of 10-15 family activities for the summer and hang it somewhere special! Building excitement and involving everyone in planning will make for a more successful summer overall. Keep in mind the below values to help jump-start your brainstorming.
Get outside: Spend some time in the sun (with sunscreen!) by dedicating some activities to enjoying nature, whether that’s a float in the pool or a stroll through a local park, back yard or forest.
Stay active: Work in some activities that get your heart racing – physical activity is just as important as studying or prepping for the year ahead.
Stay connected: Find fun ways to maintain friendships and relationships over the summer by writing letters, having virtual playdates, or even virtual book clubs!
Practice mindfulness: Honor the social and emotional needs of children and family members by providing time and opportunity for relaxation, alone-time, reflection and stress-relief. Consider creating a special location in your home set aside for deep breathing, meditation, quiet reading or yoga.
Be mindful of age: Children of all ages can enjoy all activities as long as they are given the assistance they need. Adjust your activities accordingly.
Stay spontaneous: Once the plans are set, don’t stop thinking of great ideas. You never know what kind of great idea a rainy day can bring, so embrace spontaneity without leaving your plans behind.
Use Everyday Activities as Learning Opportunities
Not every activity needs to be a huge event or special occasion. Consider how you can take your daily chores to the next level with learning opportunities like grocery math skills or weather observation. Utilize the ideas below to help you extend your normal activities into a summer of fun!
Shopping Activities: While traditional shopping isn’t as simple as before, dealing with money can still be an interactive way to teach math skills. Create a budget and give your kids the supermarket flyer to cost compare items and brands. Break down your list into categories and create an activity appropriate for each level of math skills.
Architecture Exploration: From simple shapes to multiplication, the architecture in your house can serve as an interactive learning tool. Locate patterns in your windows, estimate dimensions of buildings or measure the area of different rooms in your house. Research simple architecture names and shapes and utilize clay to make scale models.
Magazine Activities: Any old magazine lying around the house can have a multitude of uses. Practice writing skills by encouraging your kids to write descriptions of product cut-outs or create a list of adjectives from title words. For a more art-based approach, create mood boards or collages based on future goals.
Weather Monitoring: Sometimes learning can be as easy as looking out the window. Monitor the weather for a day with an hourly chart or discuss the different types of clouds; on a rainy day, take a broader look at the country and learn more about states, cities and counties.
Cooking/Baking: Cooking can offer even more than a delicious treat at the end. Practice fraction skills by doubling a recipe or simply practice reading directions with younger children while harnessing fine motor skills.
Suggested Ideas for Summer Activities
Still having trouble starting your list? Feel free to steal from our suggestions below and modify them to best fit you and your family.
Create a theme day: What is the family into? Pick a theme and go with it for the day. Some inspiring themes might be Star Wars, My Little Pony, Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, Legos, etc. Dress in costume, watch the movie, make a snack, get out the toys, read the book, even make a family video and share.
Tie-dye family summer shirts: There are easy kits in shops or online to get started on this fun and creative project. This can also become a great opportunity for a family photoshoot!
Book club: Involve the whole family in a discussion about a good read or open the discussion to neighbors and friends. Choose a story for all ages or find different versions for different ages! Consider utilizing technology to include friends and family outside the household.
Garden: For ALL ages! There are some great ideas out there for young children, teens and parents to get gardening – for beauty, food, or fun, whether indoors or outside. Of course, it also offers follow up and a sense of responsibility for children to care for the plants, which adds more intrinsic value to the project.
Shadow play: Can be done inside or out, which makes this versatile fun. There are some great resources on Youtube and YoutubeKids on how to do hand shadow puppets, shadow puppets and plays. It can be as simple as a flashlight against a wall or as intricate as an entire staged set-up!
Water play: If you don’t have access to public pools, you can still get wet! Find those funky sprinklers, water guns, reusable water bombs and sponges. Play water games, challenges, and wet mazes in the yard.
Bubble party: SO much fun for all ages! There are easy to find bubble machines in most stores. Amp it up by filling a small pool with a Giant Bubble Recipe and use wands and tools of various sizes to make huge bubbles.
Camping day: A whole day dedicated to outside activities. Kids of all ages will enjoy activities like learning how to make a campfire, setting up a campsite for the night, a nature craft, an eye-spy game, and star gazing (there are a few apps to try).
Crafts: Get crafty by making things together for the home, yard, and garden. Some ideas include painting an outside table, mosaic step stones, decorating bird houses, making fairy houses, and designing a family yard flag.
Transform a room/outdoor space: Try and create a physical challenge like a gauntlet, maze (ex: the floor is lava) or a treasure hunt.
Play tubs: Surprisingly, kids of all ages still love playing in plastic tubs. Bring some storage tubs outside in the yard, fill them with water, dirt, rice, slime, deer corn, ANYTHING! Grab some kitchen utensils, toys, cars, dolls, action figures and have fun just playing.
Pretend play for family: Invite your kids to create a playful scenario. Let them set up an office, shop, pet shop, school or restaurant. Let them set up and practice and then parents/caregivers can be a customer and go shopping.
Create a new board game or make a puzzle: You can start from scratch and use what you have around the house. There are blank board game boards and blank puzzles that you can order online. Bam! A new family game night has begun.
Create a ‘Summer Fun Team’ and Enlist Others To Join
Remember that you and your family are not the only ones trying to find fun in the summer sun. Share some of the planning responsibilities with your friends, just like teachers share lesson plans! Now, more than ever, we should count on each other for support.
This article can be found at NorthFulton.com