Hey there, parents! It’s not long now until our little darlings head off to school (if they haven’t already gone back!), and boy, are we going to miss them. I am sure we have all spent the past two-and-a-half months organizing and implementing the most amazing, creative, brain-stimulating, consciousness-raising, environment-saving, humanitarian-supporting, healthy-living summer activities we could find. Terrific job, everyone!
But now, if you are like me, you may be feeling a little bit, shall we say, all out of effort to give. Speaking for myself, I am really having a hard time caring when my adorables offer their opinion of the dinner they aren’t eating or demand another episode of some weird cartoon we found on Netflix.
And so, to help us through the last few moments of summer, and even into the first moments of the school year, here are a few activities you can offer up to your children to at least appear like you’re fun and involved while we adjust to the back-to-the-school-year routine:
NOTE: these activities were developed with and for children five years old and younger; however, some may work well with older children too.
Materials: Hose, running water
Instructions: Drag garden hose over to the driest part of your yard. Turn on hose. Aim hose water up into the air and declare, “It’s a rain party!” Tell your kids to try and run in the “rain” without getting wet. Advanced level: teach any older children to hold the hose so you don’t have to.
Additional comments: This activity is multitasking at its finest. Addresses lawn care, introduces basic meteorological skills, and removes random stickiness from children’s hands.
Materials: rocks, water, something that can hold water
Instructions: Have kids find rocks. Fill container or bucket with water. Have kids “wash” the rocks in the water. Tell kids the rocks are still a little dirty so they should try again. Eventually, leave rocks somewhere to dry. Advanced level: Challenge kids to watch rocks dry and alert you when the drying process is complete. Go check your phone for interesting Facebook gossip.
Digging to China (or wherever happens to be located on the other side of the world from you)
Materials: shovel, spade, or old spoon (hands work well, too)
Instructions: Have your kids choose a patch of ground (you might want to gently guide them to an area in which the resulting hole will not be a nuisance). Let them dig. Encourage them from time to time by saying things like, “That’s some terrific digging!” or “I think I can hear music from the other side of the world… You’ve gotta be getting close!” Think about what to make for dinner.
Additional comments: Figuring out their intended destination teaches kids geography and opens their minds to other cultures of the world. It is also good aeration for your lawn.
Gluing Things to Other Things
Materials: glue, smallish items you don’t care about (scraps of paper, sticks, leaves, dryer lint—could be anything! Don’t bother trying to be creative about it.)
Instructions: Let kids squeeze out glue and stick things together. Feel good about encouraging their creativity by staying completely out of the process. Drink coffee.
Role Modeling the Art of the Nap
Instructions: Give kids a quick lesson on the value of rest. It’s SCIENCE, children. Sleep makes you smarter and happier. Announce you will show them how to do it, and if they want to try, they can too. Go lie down somewhere and take a power nap.