One great idea is a summer activity jar. The project can found at http://www.overthebigmoon.com/summer-activity-jar/. Parents and their kids can develop a list of activities that can be completed with little effort. The jar can then be decorated and utilized when you hear those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”
Now, what to fill the jar with? The above website provides plenty of fun ideas, but this blog will offer other bonding activities to cure the boredom fever. Most parents have tried these at one point or another, but sometimes, the most basic projects can be forgotten in the midst of pressure from the kids.
1. Bake cookies, brownies or cupcakes. Kids love the opportunity to help out in the kitchen, especially when it involves something sugary and sweet. This basic project breeds self-esteem, reinforces direction following and fosters a positive bond between parent and child.
2. Prepare a picnic and host it in the backyard. Completely revamp that lackluster lunch and add a little excitement to the day. If you’ve got a picky eater, maybe she’ll be more likely to eat atop a blanket alongside mom or dad.
3. Don’t forget about all of those games and puzzles piled in the closet. A board game is a simple structured activity that doesn’t take long to play, but may satisfy a kid’s appetite for quality time.
4. Tell a story. The imagination found in a child is a mystical quality that should be nurtured. Take turns making up pieces to the tale and praise your child’s ideas as they go. Older kids can do this one by themselves. Encourage your child to write it down as they go or illustrate it with pictures.
5. Create a fun recipe book. Most of us have old magazines lying around the house. Utilize them by cutting out delicious recipes and pasting them into a book. Use the Internet to find recipes they are interested in.
6. Get crafty. It doesn’t take much effort to pull together construction paper, glitter, stickers and fabric. Kids and parents can whip up something creative in minutes. It may also benefit parents to craft a summer calendar with the kiddos and begin teaching them basic planning, time management and organizational skills. Craft ideas and printable activities can be found at http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/.
7. Feed your child’s hobbies and interests. Does your kid love reading or drawing? What about soccer or gymnastics? Helping children develop healthy outlets and hobbies at young ages can serve them for the rest of their lives. If your child seems unsure of what he likes, help him seek out a project.
8. Try something brand new. Yes, kids should be connected with what they love to do, but they should also be challenged with different activities. This keeps them open minded and stimulated.
9. Have meaningful conversations. Maybe you’re cooking dinner and your little one is lingering by your side. Maybe you’re sitting in the sun by the pool and the kiddo is playing nearby. Whatever the occasion, don’t miss a chance to talk.
Open ended questions are the best ways to gather the most information about the inner workings of your child’s mind. Try some of these: “What are you most looking forward to about the school year?” “What are you worried or unsure about?” “What is your favorite thing about summer?” “If you had three wishes, what would they be?” “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?” “What’s the best part about your day?”
Really listen to those responses. Kids can tell whether or not you’re paying attention. The better you are about showing interest in their little thoughts and ideas, the better bond you will have.
10. Have a slumber party. Pop some popcorn, pull out the blankets and watch a movie of your child’s choosing. This is a pretty simple way to have fun without putting too much energy into a project.
11. Do you have a little girl who loves to get her hair or nails done? Take the time to pick out her favorite polish and pamper her with a manicure and a pedicure. Talk about all the great ways to relax and calm down – teach skills that can be used later on in life, too.
12. Summer time offers loads of opportunities to go through the clothes and toys and decide what isn’t needed or used anymore. Teach your child about helping others and giving back to the community. Help your child understand that there are others who may benefit from their unused items. Then, take them on a trip to donate the goods.
13. I know a lot of parents who send their kids to bible school, a friend’s house or camp over the summer. Even though quality, one-on-one time is important for your kids, so is time apart, gaining independence and self-esteem. Parents can find the right blend of togetherness and time away from each other.
14. Take walks, bike rides or trips to the park. This can be doubly good because it allows physical activity and time away from the house. Mom and dad can read a book or flip through a magazine while the kids play at the park.
15. Fill up the water balloons and have an adventure in the backyard. Have your kiddo assist you in the garden or yard work. Play tag or hide and go seek. The backyard is an oasis of activity waiting to happen – you just have to put some thought into it.
16. Take a trip to the library. Pick out books for your kids to read or for you to read to them. Libraries have a special magic about them – get your little ones in the habit of reading early on. Structure time each day to spend reading books.
17. Build something together. Previous blogs discussed how to make glitter jars and worry boxes, and the extra time might give you opportunities for these. Make a bag of fond memories and happy thoughts and talk about one each night before bed.
These months might be without school, but that doesn’t mean the lessons have to end. It never hurts to get your child’s ideas for what summer fun entails, either. They are experts on what defines an adventure or adds sparkle to the imagination.
After all, it’s their job to be crafty and creative.
And it’s the parents’ job to make sure those qualities remain forever intact.
Published: July 4, 2012