Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun for the Thrifty Family!

While there are many things to enjoy about the summer months, as parents summer also brings with it the challenge of finding activities that our children will enjoy. I have a ten-month-old son, and he is active! I have found myself wishing on more than one occasion for ideas of simple activities to do with him. When I think of the ideal activity to do with my son, I want it to be:
  • something he will enjoy,
  • something flexible that we can do at almost any time,
  • something that will help him learn,
  • and something that will not dig too deeply into our limited college-student funds :).

Here are some ideas that will help launch your plans for fun summer activities with your kids! While some are geared towards older kids, most of these ideas can be used with or adapted to younger children as well.

1. Treasure Hunt - Make a list of things that your child can find in your house, yard, neighborhood, etc. and go on a treasure hunt to find them all! Try making a picture list or bingo board so your kids can cross of the things they find (better yet, let them draw the pictures themselves!). Here's an example:                                                         
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2. Take Advantage of the Outdoors - With the nicer weather that summer brings, plan more outdoor activities to do with your kids! Here are some of my favorite outdoor summer ideas. For more outdoor activity ideas, click here.
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* Build Your Own Nest - For this, you just need a small box or container of some sort and (depending on how artsy you want to make it) maybe some Easter eggs or small balls. You could also help your child to draw eggs and/or birds and put them in their nest after they finish collecting grass, twigs, and other outdoor materials to help their guests be comfy :). To learn more about this activity, click here.

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* Nature Color Hunt - Use an egg carton, ice cube tray, or other similar container to start this activity. Place small, different-colored pieces of construction paper in the bottom of each section (or color with markers if you're using an egg carton), then go on a walk with your child and see what colors you can find! To learn more about this activity, click here.

outdoor sensory play
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* Mud Soup - Let your kids cook up culinary masterpieces in the backyard! All you need   are some bowls or plates, shovels or spoons, water, and dirt! To learn more about this activity, click here.

3. Theme Days - One thing that my son and I both enjoy is having a theme for each day of the week. I love this approach because it is flexible enough to mold to your daily needs and wants (let's face it, some days you just have more energy than others!) but structured enough so that you don't have to start from scratch every day. For example, Mondays for us are Music Mondays. This could involve listening to a song, dancing together to a funky beat, watching a music video, learning a new child's song together, making our own music on homemade drums, etc. Another variation of this same idea would be to do a letter of the alphabet for each day or week and do, make, eat, learn about, or play with things that start with that letter!
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Simple Crafts - I have to admit that sometimes when I hear the word "craft" I cringe, especially with a very active 10-month-old and a house I already struggle to keep clean! But crafts don't have to equal mess and stress! Keep it simple with fun ideas like these:

* Easter Egg Maracas - These are simple and good even for younger kids. You need (unpopped) popcorn kernels or some form of small dry pasta, plastic spoons, plastic Easter eggs, tape (any kind would probably work, but masking tape would lend best to coloring), and markers. To learn more about this craft, click here.

* Paper Boats - All you need is a piece of paper and somewhere to float your boat. Your supply list doesn't get any shorter than this! You could also help your child color the top of the boat or place small pebbles, leaves, etc. in the boat as "passengers." This craft would be a great follow-up to a discussion about different types of boats and what they are used for! To learn how to make these, click here.

* Homemade Play Dough - Okay, so this one requires a little more prep and is probably a little more messy than some crafts, but it's a classic and most kids love it, so I had to    include it! For this version you need flour, water, cream of tartar, oil, salt, and food coloring. To learn how to make this, click here.

 If you're craving even more ideas, check out Help Me Grow's community calendars for both Salt Lake and Utah County here or this collection of blogs that has tons of other ideas for fun activities to do with your kids! Enjoy the summer with your kids, not in spite of them!

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