4 fun (and affordable) ways to keep kids busy this summer
Forget the holiday season; for a child, the most wonderful time of the year is summer.
School is out, vacations are planned, and the season holds promise of days spent by pools and playing tag with friends.
Then there are those rainy days of late spring and early summer, or the afternoons in July and August when the heat and humidity are unbearable.
Those are the dog – or blah – days of summer, and the wise parent knows how to plan for them in advance. Instead of turning on the TV, here are some ideas to keep the kids busy without breaking the bank.
Nature, up close:
If it’s a beautiful day, find a new way to explore nature. Give a curious child a magnifying lens and challenge him to tell you two things he discovers about everything from an acorn to a blade of glass. Here’s a hint: bugs are especially fascinating when inspected under a glass. Look for a useful kit that will even allow those flies, moths and ants to creep and flutter away after being inspected. We love this adorable Kids Bug Keeper With Magnifying Glass, $7.64 (plus Cash Back), Target.com
A little family history:
Who says history is boring? Children and even teens will tune in when you show pictures of parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents, and share stories with them. They’re likely to be fascinated by pictures of mom and dad when they were young, grandma on her wedding day, or a great grandfather in military uniform.
If you’ve been lucky enough to inherit letters from relatives, share the highlights. Even younger children will relate to the details of life back before video games and computers were in every home. Ask them to imagine life sans television, and ask them what they’d do for fun.
Virtual world traveling:
If you have a globe, great. If not, even a map of the world pulled up on the computer will do (but we think a real globe is more fun).
Have your child close his eyes and touch a spot. If that little finger landed in the ocean, find the largest notable land mass. Now get ready to explore. See if you can discover a nature show about your little slice of the planet — and remember; if the area isn’t easy to “investigate,” a do-over is OK.
Visit the library to find books and DVDs. Now, tell your child to imagine she is going to visit that country. Say it’s a jungle in the Amazon: What kind of weather should she “pack” for? What kinds of animals live there? What language do the people speak in that country (bonus points for kids who learn to say “hello” in that language). What does “home” look like? How long will it take to get to that land, and how will she get there?
Before you know it, your once-bored child will be ready for an adventure. Plan a day around the country and even try making a recipe or trying a craft from that region. Need a globe? Check out Elenco 11-Inch Political Globe, on sale $39.99, Kohls.com
Nothing encourages children more to eat their veggies than to have them grow those veggies. This is a great summer-long project and they kids will be able to enjoy the fruits (err…veggies) of their labor.
You can do this with a collection of small pots, or even disposable cups with holes poked in the bottom, but a seed starter kit will make it easy. If you have more than one child, have them each choose a veggie to plant, and let them wage a friendly wager (loser has to do the dishes) on whose seeds will poke up first. Start with lettuce, radishes, cherry tomatoes, beans, or even sunflowers. Remind them that they will have to keep their seeds watered properly, and located so they get just the right amount of sunlight. And the next challenge once you have tiny plants? To thin the seeds out and find the perfect spot for the treasures.
Need a little help to get going? Try the Jiffy Professional Greenhouse With Plant Labels Starter Kit, $5.88, Homedepot.com