Oh, what do you do in the summer time?

Oh, what do you do in the summer time?  Yes, those are words to a fun Primary song, but for some with the long “lazy” days of summer in full swing they could be a song of lament! Oh, what do I do with my children in the summer to add a little fun and pizzazz to our days? Here are a few ideas to help get the juices flowing.

One summer we studied Indians and decided we needed to spend time being Indians.  First we made a tepee out of PVC .   We took lengths of PVC, drilled holes in one end and tied them together.  Then we set it up by splaying out the other end.  I took muslin fabric and sewed several pieces together to make a cover.  The kids decorated it with Indian designs like a real tepee.  What I thought was going to be a onetime event of being Indians for an evening turned into a regular Friday night activity for the rest of the summer.  We even cooked our dinner over the fire every Friday, some night just hot dogs and other nights we cooked stews, corn on the cob, potatoes and other fun stuff.  You can do this with other historical time periods and places.  The only limit is imagination!

 Another idea for summer is to use the time to do all the art projects that have sat in the closet all year. With the slower pace of summer kids have time to really get into creating.  My kids have created all sorts of indoor arts and crafts projects like paper flowers, pipe cleaner dolls and clay projects.  There are lots of others!

They have also created outside works of art like forts, costumes and accessories to play their favorite games.  They have also created cities with cars and such in the dirt.  They have drawn elaborate bike courses with chalk, cones and other barriers. It is amazing what they come up with when given the time and materials.  Painting the sidewalk with water and old paint brushes is something little kids love to do. I love it because there is virtually no mess!

Gardening can be another inspiration for summer fun.  Not only can you plan kid’s gardens as part of your regular garden space, but you can create interesting separate gardens just for them.  This year my boys and I have created plant forts that we are watching grow. We planted sunflowers in squares of about 5 feet on a side.  As the sunflowers grow they will form a wall that will shade a lucky young man and provide a place to play, read, or just hang out.  We are also growing morning glory tepees and training the morning glories to grow up bamboo stakes to again provide a shady place to relax on a lazy summer afternoon.  The book “Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy has other great ideas.

One last idea is nature notebooks.  Charlotte Mason was a proponent of nature notebooks as a way to teach science and other principles to children. "To look at it is something, but its spirit will not come at once; you must look long enough, with a child's forgetfulness of time.  Gazing for long, though, becomes tedious; you begin to think of the dinner-hour.  But to draw it is to caress it; all the difference between staring at a kitten and stroking it; between watching a game and playing it. That is why it is worth learning to draw”. (“Parents Review”) This can be done at a local park, your backyard or another place where your children can sit and study without interruption.  A nature notebook can be a journal of the pleasant things of summer to look at again in the cold of winter.

Hopefully this has started your creative juices flowing with new ideas for you and your children this summer.  If you have an idea that worked for you, please share it! We all love new ideas!

You can leave your thoughts, comments or suggestions here on my feedback page. Thanks!

- Dana