“ Members top 10 sumertime activities for children. „
If you've ever seen a Boots ad on the great British summer where the sun breaks out for a few minutes and everyone is racing outdoors, then you have a pretty good idea of my family's reaction to a sunny day. We don't get many so we have to make the best of it! (Ironically, this ad was filmed in New Zealand - seems the producers didn't want to spend to many days waiting on real British sunshine). I loved summertime as a child, and now with my own children - I want their summers to be special too so I try to come up with as many fun activities as possible. Here are some of our favourites and I really hope some of you will be adding your own - mostly in hopes of getting more ideas for fun things to try. Of course many of you have likely already done most of these things, if not with your children, when you were young. But it never ceases to amaze me how many children haven't tried them.
1. Make a tent. I know most of us now have a play tent or camping tent for our children, and I'm not denying the fact that these are great fun. It was a luxury we didn't have as children so we had to make do with what we could find, but I think something is missing now with all of our entertainment purchased ready to go. There is still something magical about making your own hut with old sheets and blankets, tables and chairs and a good bag of clothes pegs. My husband always shudders at these activities as he feels it makes us look as if we are living in poverty - but I've lived in the same area for many years - I'm sure the neighbours all know I'm just a bit odd by now :) A good variation on this is a hut made from boxes if you can find some. No modern toy will ever beat a good old fashioned box.
2.Fly a kite. It may not keep the kids busy all day, but flying a kite is just one of those experiences I feel every child should have. While your at - why not see what else you can fly. We have a fleet of paper airplanes, a vinegar powered rocket, and we are working on a few more ideas for flying toys.
3."The Leprechaun tells me to burn things" - I loved this quote from Ralphie in the Simpsons. Seriously though, I think we have some primal instinct that draws us towards flames and as much as we tell children " never play with fire", children have a natural fascination with flames. Of course one has to put safety first, but I believe, in a controlled situation, children can have some experience of fire quite safely. We bought a chimera, but many barbecues will work as well as a safe way to contain a small flame. We love sitting out next to fire on a warm summer night while the children experiment with what different materials burn like. They burn dry sticks to build up the flame, sappy pine branches for crackling and popping, and a couple of green leafy branches for smoke. Once it is really late, and the fire has burned quite low - it's time for ghost stories. I don't know why but ghost stories just don't work by modern lights, you need a fire or a candle to set the mood. A small campfire is equally fun, and even burning a few leaves up with a magnifying glass can provide cheap summertime entertainment. My children are allowed some experience of fire, but know they can only do so with an adult present.
4. Explore the coast. Britain and Ireland are both islands. Most of us live a reasonable distance from the ocean. If you really can not reach the beach this summer though, you can always substitute a pond, river, or lake. My sons love searching for all sorts of creatures in rock pools. We've found crabs, hermit crabs, muscles, whelks, several types of fish and anemones, jellyfish, and even what my husband was convinced was a newly hatched dogfish. In fresh water you'll find insect larvae, frog spawn and small fish. It is important not to stress these creatures too much - so if you do catch them, they should be placed back where caught very quickly. We have only moved a creature once - the suspected dogfish was in a very tiny drying up pool so it was moved to a deeper pool nearer the water where it would remain we until the tide came back in. Shells are fun to hunt for as well, but be very certain there is nothing alive in them before bringing any home.
5. Build a sand castle. We take this one further and build a whole system of castles on hills with deep moats in between. It takes ages and is demolished in seconds as my sons love running and jumping through our sand castle obstacle course, splashing into water filled moats and smashing castles like angry giants.
6. Go on exploring after dark with torches. Nothing beats walking through a wooded area in pitch black with only a dim torch light. It is an exploration for a young child. My own sons also loved and abandoned military base late at night. Bats are a fun creature to observe, and my youngest makes up wonderful stories about the soldiers he talks to.
7. Have a water fight. All children love water fights - and it is so much more fun if you get to soak Mom and Dad. We have a good collection of water guns, water balloons, etc... but nothing really beats a garden hose. Two litre bottles are great for water fights too, as well as buckets bowls or old kettles.
8. Garden Sprinklers. Again, most of us have a collection of paddling pools, water slides and so on now, but a good old fashioned garden sprinkler can be just as fun. It seems as if we have forgotten so many of the old simple pleasures of childhood, and I honestly know many children who hadn't tried just running through a sprinkler before.
9. Old fashioned outdoor games. I grew up pre Nintendo, so entertainment on long summer nights was down to us. As fun as video games may be - they don't hold a candle to creeping through the bushes with a toy gun playing army, hide and seek, Blind man's bluff, what's the time Mr Wolf, freeze tag or torch tag. I think many children have never tried these games so think back to your own childhood and teach your children a few old favourites. The Wii and X- box may be great when the weather turns bitterly cold and we are all stuck indoors for too long - but I'm glad to say ours get very limited use over the summer.
10. Paint the town red - or any colour you like. We always have a few outdoor art projects with both chalk and poster paints. Chalk is the easy no mess solution, but paints are so much fun. We paint the footpath to our house, paint hopscotch games in the back garden ( ours is paved). Sometimes we make proper hopscotch games, but most of the time it is a hopping path which can take any shape or form. Other times we just paint and draw massive murals over any paved surface. It all washes away with the next rain or water fight anyway.
11. ( I know I said ten but maths aren't my strong suit) Into Each life some rain must fall - living in Britain - quite a bit of rain will fall, no matter what time of year it is. Dark clouds don't have to mean the fun is over. Sitting in a tent in the rain can be fun - but you'll want a proper one for this - my blanket and sheet tents never did hold up to rain very well. You can play board games, card games, or have a picnic while the rain falls down. But the very best thing about rain is mud. Just like fire - most children naturally love mud. I can't count how many hours my sons have spent happily throwing rocks into puddles. Of course you have to make a big enough splash to get everyone covered in mud - but why stop there. Mud adds a whole new dimension to football, but my boys all time favourite is riding bikes through large puddles. The wheels kick up the muddy water - and they end up covered from head to toe. The bike ends up well covered too which leads us to my final idea for summer fun.
12. Carwash. OK, washing the car may not sound like great fun to an adult, but children seem to love it. A big bucket of soap with plenty of bubbles and suds, a couple of big soft sponges and a garden hose - and my sons are over the moon. After the car - their bikes scooters and other mud encrusted ride on toys can all do with a good wash. We end up with everything clean and two happy children - so it's a win win situation. Of course garden hoses and big soapy sponges always lead to soaking and splashing - and again parents are a child's natural targets but it all adds to the fun.