Summer is an endless stretch of time for kids to fill. Make it special for them by doing things together. You won’t need anything special--just a little time and cheerful energy to fuel the fun! The bonus to these activities is that you are building memories together. And don’t forget how much fun water activities are for kids! Hot weather is water weather! Here are some ideas for active water fun in your own backyard:
- Play in the sprinkler or with the hose (extra fun: eat watermelon first, and then wash--and cool--off).
- Scrub it up! Kids love to wash and scrub! Fill buckets with soapy water, add sponges and rags, and let them wash their bikes, the swing set, rocks, and the lawn furniture. Have a hose ready for rinsing. Let the sun sparkle on the clean and shiny new world!
- Toss water balloons at targets (or each other).
- Play sponge toss. Soak sponges in water and throw them at a designated target (that includes mom or dad!).
- Squirty-Cup-Head Game! Fill a big squirt bottle with water. To play, everyone sits side by side on the ground with a plastic cup on his or her head, backs to the “squirter." The “squirter” uses the squirt bottle to try to knock the cups off each person’s head. When all cups are off, the squirter takes his place in the line-up with a cup on his head, and a new person takes a turn at being the squirter. Everyone gets a turn!
- Fill a plastic or galvanized tub with water. A child’s wading pool will work too. Add plastic cups and bowls, turkey basters, spoons, and buckets. Let the kids go at it, pouring and playing. Going barefoot and wearing swimsuits adds to the fun. For extra intrigue, add some food coloring to the water for mixing enjoyment.
- As long as the kids are outside, make Wacky Bubbles together! Start by mixing together 1/4 cup dishwashing liquid (Dawn and Joy work the best), 2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and have a wacky bubble-blowing experience with a variety of bubble-blowing tools: plastic funnels, six-pack soda rings, and plastic cups with holes punched through the bottom make a good start. Add your own ideas.
- When the kids run out of steam, change the bubble mixture into an art project! Pour some of the bubble mixture into a cup, and add a few drops of food coloring, liquid watercolorpaints, or poster paint. Blow rainbow bubbles into the air with a bubble blower, and then catch them on a white sheet of paper or paper plate! When the bubble pops, a most amazing bubble print is left. When the paper dries, use markers or crayons to outline the bubble shapes, creating bubble-art masterpieces!
- If a little quiet time is in order, create in the shade! Design beach jars under the shade of an old oak tree! You will need a peanut butter or mayonnaise jar for each child, some plastic funnels, and a worktable or blanket on the grass. Gather some containers of sand, shells (whole or crushed), and small gravel or pebbles, even colored craft rice or salt. If possible, cut some fish or seashore shapes from colored foam sheets from a craft store. Mix blue food coloring in water and set aside. Each child fills his jar with layers of sand, shells, gravel and pebbles, and then places the foam cutouts on the inside of the jar against the glass. When the jar is full, pour blue water slowly into the jar, covering the layers. Tighten the lid on the jar, and the beautiful beach jar is ready to place in a window to catch the sun.
The word summer simply means fun! Doing things together will make the days spin by, and before you know it, fall will be in the air, the kids will be in school, and memories will fill the hearts and minds of all. As the song goes, “These are the days, my friend! I thought they’d never end….”
MaryAnn Faubion Kohl is the author of more than 20 award-winning books of activities for children. Two of her many titles are First Art: Art Experiences for Toddlers and Twos and Mudworks Bilingual Edition: Clays, Doughs, and Modeling Experiences for Children; The Big Messy Art Book is a favorite for summer outdoor fun.