For the past few weeks, the kids have had all kinds of activities to do: camp, VBS, a friend here each day. But starting next week, our days are blissfully blank for the most part. Since my youngest kids are 9 and 12, I have a tendency to let them do their own thing. The problem is that long, leisurely, empty days of summer with limited tech time lead to, "I don't know what to do." I find that it's good to be intentional about activities, even at this age.
So on our list of Things to Do:
. We've been getting a pass to our local public pools for the past several years, and it is soooo worth it. I know some people are grossed out by the thought of public pools, but, well, I'm not. We have great pools, even if occasionally they have to close one because some kid pooped in it. Whatever.
. We have a goal of heading to the mountains to hike and play in the river a couple of times each month. I'd like to say "weekly," but somehow that just doesn't always happen.
3. Arts & Crafts projects
. I used to be so good about having all kinds of supplies and coming up with cool projects. I've slipped. My goal this summer is to have them each make a couple of Christmas presents for family.
4. Random science experiments
. Duncan especially loves this. I have all kinds of experiment books and lots of supplies. Sometimes I just let him spread out the stuff, which might include everything from cotton balls to circuit systems, and let him do his own thing. Also, he loves to just mix stuff up: baking soda and vinegar, plus food coloring, dish soap, etc. Here’s a fun one: cover the bottom of a pie plate (preferably glass) with milk or cream (doesn’t work as well with skim milk). Put in a few drops of food coloring. Now, very carefully, add a few drops of dish detergent –and watch the kaleidoscope
5. Army guy/dinosaur rescue
. Fill a plastic cup (preferably clear) with water, and drop in an army guy or other small plastic toy. Freeze until solid. Send the kids outside with a chisel or paint scraper (or other such tool) and let them chisel out the army guy. Duncan does this with a hammer and it only takes him a few minutes now, but when he was younger this would occupy a good 15 minutes.
Give them a bunch of uncooked spaghetti (regular works better than thin) and mini-marshmallows and challenge them to build a bridge, an animal, a building, etc. They’ll get carried away with this one. You’ll even be able to write a blog, read a book, or—if you must—prepare dinner while they create. Also serves as snack time.
. Board games, card games, whatever. Inserting a game into the middle of the day breaks up the monotony. It doesn’t have to be a 2-hour game of Monopoly; even a 10-minute game of Crazy 8s somehow lightens up the Blahs. See my post on games
for a few of our favorites.
8. Field Trips.
It's hard to think of good places to go in the summer. My kids are a little too old for children's science centers, the zoo is too hot, museums seem too school-ish to them. I'm open to brilliant ideas for field trips!
9. Cleaning and organizing
. I know that's weird, but my kids actually like to do this to a certain degree. This summer I've also engaged my 12-year-old in painting; in fact, she is painting our guest bathroom right now! I also have a plan to encourage them to find stuff to sell at an upcoming yard sale. Even Duncan enjoys doing this and thinking about the money he'll get.
This one is for my 12-year-old. I have all kinds of project possibilities for her. She has a quilt to finish and then various fun things we've seen online to make.
Again, this is for my 12-year old. We haven't gotten into making earrings yet, but it's on our list of things-to-do.
Got any more ideas? Please share!