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!
Creative Scavenger Hunts
Nardozzi suggests planting herbs nearby, or in small containers or window boxes for frequent harvesting. He recommends a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day for maximum growth. Your garden should have “excellent soil drainage and moderately rich, friable soil,” says Nardozzi.
After you’ve mastered your herb garden, involve the children in a horticulture lesson. Have them compare and taste the different herbs and suggest what they might be used for. “Growing herbs, like cooking with herbs, is often a process of trial and error,” says Nardozzi. “If a plant is not growing well in a particular location, dig it up and try it in a new location.” To learn more gardening activities for kids, check out the National Gardening Association’s website (www.kidsgardening.org).
Incorporate all of these activities into one fun excursion. Give your children disposable cameras and a list of things they can search for while on a hike. Be creative with your list—blue flowers, a bird’s nest, the tiniest rock, a ladybug, a child on a swing, a cloud that looks like an ice cream cone.
While the kids hike, they’ll search for the items and photograph them. When you’ve developed the film, put together a scrapbook of their finds and include any treasures they’ve found in their search, such as unique leaves or flowers.
Even if you’re not in search of scavenger-hunt treasures, a nature hike can always spark imagination and conversation. Kelly Becker of Holland, Pennsylvania, takes her three girls on impromptu hikes and lets them bring along a disposable camera. “Letting them take the pictures gives them artistic freedom over what is important to them to remember,” said Becker.
Additionally, this great project may spark new interests in your children. Maybe they’ll discover a passion for nature, hiking, photography, or scrapbooking. Add to the scrapbook throughout the summer, and your family will have a nice keepsake when the album is complete.
The All Important Project: Play Time
Institute Project Play Day where a whole day’s events revolve around doing fun activities. Start by making Mickey Mouse pancakes with chocolate chip eyes for breakfast. Go outside and play with the kids (don’t just be a spectator!). Jump rope or play hopscotch, blow bubbles, ride bikes or scooters.
You can also be productive without the kids knowing it by taking a neighborhood walk and collecting litter as you go. Give them some gardening tools and have them pull weeds—what kid doesn’t love dirt? Pull out the hose, grab some buckets and soap, and wash the car. To kids, washing the car is never a chore but more like a special treat on really hot days.
Serve a picnic lunch, eat snacks all day long (healthy ones to keep their energy up), make homemade snow cones with crushed ice and fruit punch. Play board games on the patio or read stories on a blanket in the yard, but keep the sprinkler on nearby for quick run-throughs when it gets too hot—and don’t forget the sunscreen!
It’s one thing to take the kids outside to play, but when you get down in the dirt and dig for worms with them, they’ll remember the day as one of their favorite times with you!
Before you know it, summer will be over and you’ll be greeted with the school-year rush. In the meantime, slow things down and cherish the pace of a lazy afternoon, doing projects with the family and making incredible memories.
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