There is absolutely no need for your kids to be bored during summer vacation. Go through this list of fun things to do that are guaranteed to keep them busy the whole summer through.
“There’s nothing kids love better than water,” says Janet, a Toronto mom. “So I turn my yard into a water park for all the kids in the neighbourhood.” You don bathing suits, fill up spray bottles, plastic bowls and balloons with good old H2O and squirt and splash away. Make a wet slide with plastic sheeting at least three feet wide and 10 feet long, hose it down and start sliding. Keep the sprinkler going. And while the kids dash, you, can sip iced tea sitting in the kiddy pool.
Pick up candies and small trinkets and a large strong balloon. Blow it up and tie it closed. Cut old newspapers into strips and make a mixture of one part water and one part flour. Soak strips in mix and apply them to the balloon like a plaster cast. Let one layer dry, then add another and let dry again. Repeat twice more. When the piñata is dry, paint it brightly and make a small opening at the top. Burst the balloon and pour in the goodies. Insert a hook and hang. Give kids strong sticks or bats to break it (while supervised, of course!).
Make invitations to a royal afternoon tea. Then bring out your old clothes, hats, shoes and jewelry and dress everyone to the nines. Choose a queen and announce your fancily garbed guests as they make their entrance. Add titles to their names—like Lady Alessia and Lord Erik.
It’s summer and there’s likely a baseball game going on somewhere. Whether it’s a game you wrangle a few neighbourhood kids to play together or the Toronto Blue Jays, grab some popcorn, don a team shirt and root, root, root for the home team!
Bonnie, a Toronto mother of three, has her children fill balloons with water and throw them at her vehicle. “They have a blast and my car gets cleaned,” says Bonnie, who soaps up the car between firings. “It’s perfect for a hot day. The kids put their bathing suits on, we turn on the hose and they run through the spray while tossing water balloons around.”
With cheap binoculars and a large magnifying glass, you can take your kids on a backyard bird and bug safari. Zero in on the avid aphids on the roses or the dragonfly needles dotting up the garden. Later, ask them to draw birds and bugs they spotted.
Gather up today’s memorabilia and tuck them away. Large cans with lids make good humidity-proof containers for storing a favourite comic or a best friend’s letter. What about putting in a child’s story, drawing or math test she’s proud of. Make a date to open up the capsule next summer.
Lana, a doctor and mother of 8-year-old Amy in PEI, will draw herself a simple picture out of several geometric shapes—a house, for example. Hiding the sketch from Emma, she tells her to “draw a square, then draw a triangle on top of it” until the child realizes what it is. Then they switch places and reverse roles.
Bring all your cardboard boxes out of storage or hit your local appliance store and help the kids build a castle (or an airplane or a pirate ship!). Get them to design and paint a coat of arms and display it on the highest point.
Announce a talent show and have each child prepare something for it. Encourage your older children to write and perform a skit. A younger one can recite a simple poem or sing a nursery rhyme. By way of a stage curtain, tack up a sheet at a doorway or hall entrance.
Proud owners of a pooch? Celebrate the dog days by whipping up some homemade biscuits for Fifi or Rover. You can find recipes for homemade canine cookies at Martha Stewart. Bone appétit!
Dab various colours of acrylic paint on sturdy paper, then hold the paper in the rain for a few seconds. Let it dry and—presto!—you have a modern expressionistic masterpiece for mounting on your wall. Make the ghost of abstract painter Jackson Pollock proud!
Don’t have a cottage yet? Ask the kids to make you a model of the one you hope to buy. According to Asma, a Toronto school teacher, all you need is ready-made white frosting, an empty 250-mL milk carton, food colouring, Graham Crackers and some small coloured candies for a little kitsch—and your kids supply the imagination. First, wash out the milk carton and glue its opening shut. Tint small amounts of icing with different colours. Spread a thin layer of icing all over the carton and attach the crackers to its sides. Use Shreddies for the roof tiles. Fill in spaces between crackers with icing. Make windows and a door by sticking on candies with icing. “The kids love sneaking a few pieces of candy as they work,” says Asma.
“Mother” and other popular tattoos can grace the biceps of your kids at a home tattoo parlour. Purchase wash-off decals or use soft eyeliner pencils to draw them. Let kids move from receiving tattoos to giving them.
Is that Orion? There’s the Big Dipper! For an astronomically good time, check the forecast and bring out your sleeping bags and blankets on a clear night. In advance, get a kid-friendly book on the night sky from your local library or log on to a stellar website such as www.dustbunny.com (click on “Constellations” to learn how they got their mythology-based names).
Let your kids create new masterpieces or bring out their best offerings from the past school year. Announce the date of the show in the ’hood and invite entries from other kids. Hang the oeuvres from the clothesline or tape them to the backs of chairs. Let the junior art set sip vintage grape juice from plastic wine glasses and munch on classy canapés like cheese stuffed celery sticks.
Say cheese, please! Get some cheap disposable cameras or invest in an inexpensive point-and-shoot model that’s easy for kids to use. Have them create their own photographic backdrop with acrylic paint applied on an old sheet or a large piece of cardboard. Then they’re all set to immortalize the neighbourhood kids and pets.
Make a list of items from around the house or yard that children rush to find in a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Paula, a mother of three from Vancouver says, “Although scavenger hunts do take some prep work on your part, they can be adapted to all ages and personalities and really keep kids occupied.” Strategically place items around your home and create clues that will guide the kids to the items. “It smells like flowers and will help you get clean” is a good prompt for soap or shower gel.
Indoors or out, set up your family’s trusty camping tent or use bed sheets propped up on high-backed chairs to craft a tent. Add a small carpet and some large throw pillows, then maybe serve up some Moroccan mint tea to the mournful tones of a Middle Eastern music CD. Read a few lines from Omar Khayyam’s classic poem The Rubaiyat.
Littles often can’t wait for the first snowfall—and even though it’s summer, you can easily oblige them! Make snow come early for them (indoors, no less!) with thisfake snow that transforms itself into a modelling clay so fine that they can even use it to take their fingerprints or the imprint of a leaf’s delicate veins.