Summer Projects to Slow the Pace
Looking for ways to stretch out the much-loved summer vacation? Here's a wad of great ideas to get you to slow down, smell the flowers, and enjoy every minute with your kids!
Has the summer blitz got you in an exhausted frenzy? The vacations, amusement parks, sports activities, camps, and road trips of the activity-driven dog days of summer may have you looking for quick ways to regroup. Refresh your spirit and just chill out with your children with some inexpensive alternatives that are productive and memorable.
Start slowing down the pace, and as you’ll see by the suggestions below, you’ll be able to stop and smell the flowers (literally!) with these close-to-home activities for you and your family.
Deborah J. Waldman of Edmonton, Alberta hosted a tie-dye party the weekend before her children, then ages five and seven, went back to school. Neighborhood kids and their parents were invited and brought their own shirts to dye. Waldman provided the dye, which can be purchased at fabric or craft stores. “We mixed up five colors in huge buckets in the front yard and invited everyone,” she said. Participants ranged from ages three to thirteen. Waldman said she knew the event was a success when a neighbor stopped by recently to get details on the tie-dye party as she was planning to throw one for her daughter’s birthday.
You’ll need just a few things to have a tie-dye party—dye colors, rubber bands and marbles (to create unique designs), buckets, hangers, and t-shirts or other small articles of clothing. One thing to note before preparing for a tie-dye party: the t-shirts have to soak in the dye for at least an hour, so make sure you have plenty of drinks and snacks for your guests.
Host a neighborhood driveway art show. This activity will work well with any number of kids of all ages and requires only a nice day, some sidewalk chalk, and eager artists. Divide the driveway into large sections and give the kids a specific theme or let them discover their inner Van Gogh. To add to the fun, appoint a judge and give away prizes for the most creative murals. As long as it doesn’t rain, everyone’s a winner!
Another outdoor art project children love is rock painting. Collect large rocks or even smaller stones, get some colorful paints and make pet rocks, garden decorations, or door stoppers. This is another creative, inexpensive art project that doesn’t require a lot of supplies. Your child may even want to create custom gifts for friends, grandparents, and other relatives.
Flower Gathering and Arranging
This project incorporates aspects of nature, exercise, exploration, design and beauty, and will create lasting memories for you and your kids. Even the youngest child can take part and feel accomplished when gathering and arranging flowers. Natalia Burton of Charlottesville, Virginia, enjoys this activity with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Kaitlin. “We start by going for a nature walk and I try to follow my daughter’s pace and allow her to enjoy all the sights and sounds,” said Burton. They pick flowers together and bring them back to the house for arranging.
The supplies needed are basic for this project: flowers, scissors to cut stems to proper lengths, a vase, and a watering can. After Burton and her daughter gather flowers, she lets Kaitlin take charge and arrange them in the vase any way she chooses. “This is a great activity that you can do quite often, and kids feel proud when they see their arrangements in the house,” Burton said.
There are rarely children who don’t love to mush around in the mud from time to time, and if they’re going to do it, why not turn it into a gardening project? Aside from the desire to get dirty, all that children need to create a garden of their own are the basics: sun, dirt, water, and seeds.
Debbie Mandel, author of Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, and creator of the KIND Program (Kids, In Need of De-Stressing), says children benefit greatly from gardening. “Gardening is fun, great exercise and a natural de-stressor, and children learn a life-long healthy hobby for mind and body,” said Mandel.
Charlie Nardozzi, an expert horticulturist for the National Gardening Association (NGA) and Chief Gardening Officer of Hilton Garden Inn®, suggests growing herb gardens as a great at-home activity. Some herbs you can plant are basil, parsley, chives, rosemary and thyme.
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