Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Summer fun - around town

The beginning of summer is great - warm weather, playing outside, and being just a little lazy is fun for a while, but it gets old quick!  I've put together a list of things that you can easily do with your children or students to keep the summer fun - not boring.  Today's ideas are from "around town" which means you get to go explore! Depending on your area, some of these may be in walking distance, while others may be a farther trek.  If you aren't sure about any of these resources, a quick internet search can tell you if there is something similar locally.



1. Explore a community garden
This could be a vegetable garden grown by members of the community, a local botanical garden, or even an area of town that is nicely landscaped.  Wander around for a bit and talk to your child about what you see. There are a ton of things to explore in a garden - look for bugs, find specific colored flowers, or look for garden art like sculptures and wind chimes.

2. Go to the park
Duh. I know this seems pretty obvious, but have you watched a young child play at the park recently. They could keep themselves occupied there for days! If you regularly go to the same park, try a new one to give your child somewhere new to explore.

3. Pack a picnic
Your kids may have moaned and groaned about packed lunches all school year long, but a picnic is something completely different! Put those same sandwiches in a picnic basket and all of the sudden they are full of adventure. Your child may even offer to help make lunch before you go!

4. Go on an art hunt
Art is everywhere. Many communities have spaces with outdoor sculptures, or fantastic murals, you might even find some art in your neighbors' yards. Encourage you child to really pay attention to their world, and see if you notice anything in your town that you've never seen before.

5. Take a letter walk (or a number walk)
Make a checklist and head out to see if you can find all of the letters or numbers on your list.  If the whole alphabet is too much split it up into multiple days, or see if your child can find all of the letters in his or her first name as you walk around the neighborhood.  For more ideas of things to look for during a walk, check out my Community Scavenger Hunt Pack (my students love these scavenger hunts!)

6. Check out a farmer's market
You might be surprised by what you see at the farmer's market, they aren't just for vegetables anymore! At our local farmer's there are flavored popcorn vendors, people selling organic flavored cream cheeses, and artisan bakers, just to name a few. This is a great way to introduce children to where food (and other products) come from.

7. Find the civic buildings in your area
Where is your local post office? Court house? Fire station? Children are fascinated by the people who do these jobs, why now show them where these community helpers work? In many communities you will find all of these buildings within walking distance of each other, so make it a geography activity while you're at it.

8. Use your library in a new way
Are you a regular at library story time? Introduce your child to the many other ways that you can use the library.  Find things that children can do on the computer while at the library, ask the librarian where you can locate books that will help you research a specific topic, show your child where the "adult books" are (some children have no idea that the library has books without pictures!), check out a cookbook and try a few new recipes - My local library actually loans shaped cake pans!

9. Go grocery shopping
Consider all of the special events that happen during the summer. From family BBQs, to camping trips, sleepovers, and holiday parties, there are tons of reasons to grocery shop.  Your child can help you plan the menu and shop for one of these events.  Even children who generally hate going to the store will be willing if they get to help make the decisions.

10.  Take a class
Take advantage of some of the summer opportunities that are available. Does your local park department have any day camps? Is the art supply store hosting any special children's events? Do your local craft stores offer make and take days? Many places offer these types of opportunities year-round, lazy summer days are perfect for finally trying all of those activities that you've ever said "we should try that..." to.

Hopefully this list will help you start thinking of fun things to do. Whether you are spending the summer with your own children, or your students, there are tons of ways to make it fun! Tomorrow I'll have a list of fun things to do at home!



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