Summer. Does the word strike joy - or fear - into your heart this year? I've been patently refusing to think about it until a few weeks ago. Going to the grocery store still disorients me, as I've yet to grow comfortable with masks and social distancing. I know summer camps are open in Texas, but everyone is squeamish. And travel?! How can I create any summer adventures for the kids?
I want to create anchors for my family this summer, places to help us all mark the time as distinct from the rest of the year. I want them to know there will be family play time, and then time for them to have their own summer adventures. I want us to continue to feel like we're learning, growing and "moving forward." So what should we do?
I took it up with the Sparkle Team – a deeply creative, enterprising bunch – and we came up with ideas for you. Great ideas. Inspiring ideas. Ideas that will make you feel ever-so-ready to roll out summer vacation!
- Cook together! Schedule a weekly tradition of making food as a family, whether it be a weekly popsicle experiment or a creative burger night. Better yet, have a night that (kids cook)
- Organize a Neighborhood Fairy Festival. Build fairy houses all around your front yard or walkway, and leave fairy treasures and treats. Invite neighbors to do the same. Then schedule a Tour of Fairy Homes!
- Bump up your water-game skills. Play tag with the garden hose, do the limbo with a pool noodle sprinkler, have a water balloon fight, or just set bowls of water out in various temperatures for dipping your feet in.
Create a garden! Whether it’s planting herbs in a container garden, or digging a tidy vegetable plot in your yard, you can begin to grow what you eat.
Pick a novel to read aloud together all summer. Or, if your kids are younger, work your way through a series of shorter stories. Bonus points if you can recreate a recipe or project or event from the book! (Books we recommend: …)
- Peter Rabbit (currant buns and vegetables and blackberries)
- Blueberries for Sal (blueberry anything!)
- Harry Potter (tons of recipes online)
- Chronicles of Narnia (turkish delight)
- Paddington (anything with marmalade)
Drive-in Movie Night! Project a movie onto a house or garage wall or stand-alone screen. Invite friends to watch (socially distanced) and eat popcorn.
Throw an Unbirthday Party! Go all out: cake, ice cream, balloons, banner, festive (kid) drinks. Small toys to share. You can even sing the unbirthday song from Alice in Wonderland and blow out the candles.
Created Themed Weeks. Take up a historical or cultural theme, and use your imagination to explore with art making, costumes, recipes, crafts, and stories! For instance:
• Invention week. Make inventions like Martin. Try making mini robots
• Vive la France week! Bastille Day on July 14! Vive la France! Read Madeline or watch a movie based in France (Ratatouille?), make crepes, wear berets.
• Steampunk Future week! Build crazy costumes out of recycling and tools from the shed.
Rearrange the furniture in your house — even just for a weekend. A little change brings welcome novelty!
- Explore your Local State or National Parks! Make an Explorer Bag and pack it with everything you might need, from pens and journals to binoculars.
- Create with Nature. There are so many wonderful “art supplies” just outside your door. Make Mud Creations, Flower Crowns or Earth Art.
Schedule a Daily Family Storytime. You know just where to get hours and hours of delightful stories!
Hold a Backyard Penny Carnival! Create a coin toss in a kiddie pool, a ring toss with mason jar rings and bottles, a beanbag toss into a cardboard face with a mouth open. Costs a penny to play and win simple prizes!
- Create a Bike Parade! Decorate bikes and enroll friends and neighbors to cruise the neighborhood. At the end, have a popsicle party.
Organize a Drum Party. Invite friends to bring something to bang on, and then start banging. Bring extra bangables for others. Try to find pleasing beats. (Consider having a drum leader.)
Care for your community in a fun way! Go on a "trasher hunt" to clean up litter. Research a local food pantry together, read some stories, and donate to them. Chalk the sidewalks with encouraging messages for pedestrians.
Organize a tasting project! Host a chocolate ice cream tasting and pick your favorite brand, or create a challenge to find your family’s favorite take-out french fries.
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.