Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
One great aspect of outdoor summer activities is that you can make them as large or as small as you want! They can include just the members of your family, all the children in the neighborhood, or extend to an entire block party!
Obtain some large cardboard boxes from your local grocery story and cut them into 12”x 12” squares. Use marking tape or crayons to write one letter on each tile to mimic Scrabble tiles. You will need the following number of tiles for each letter:
2: J, K, Q, X, Z
3: B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, Y
6: D, S, U
9: T, R
Choose a shady, grassy spot in the yard or a local park and start your larger-than-board-games version of Scrabble! You can use more than four players, but the game will be over quicker.
Nature-Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
Challenge each of the children in your group to find something in nature that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Of course, there are some letters they will never find, so allow a little creativity and leeway in these areas. Set a time limit for the search and when they all come back together, see how many different samples for each letter they have collected.
Before you send those plastic water bottles to the recycle center, give them a second life as an outdoor glow-in-the-dark bowling pin!
Obtain glow sticks from your local dollar store and activate, placing one stick in each bottle. Arrange the bottles in a triangle, like bowling pins. (Rows of 4-3-2-1, from back to front) Use a regular rubber ball or kick ball as the bowling ball and keep score as if in the bowling alley. Being able to play at night and the glowing pins will add excitement for the kids. If you want to add a hint of glow to the ball as well, look for glow in the dark stickers at the dollar store, too.
Outdoor Art Show
On a rainy day, have your children express themselves with crayons, markers, macaroni, buttons, and other artistic mediums to create beautiful works of art. Then have them design the invitations to their art show. Invite grandma, the neighbors, anyone you want! If you have a clothesline, it is the perfect place to hang their art for review. However, if you don’t, you can hang a rope or clothes line between two trees and/or use a variety of elements (i.e., step ladder, lawn chairs, indoor drying rack) scattered about the yard to hang their artwork. Let the artists stand near their work to answer questions from their patrons about their style and inspiration. The children will love the attention! Be sure to serve a simple snack, as well. Who know what little Picasso you may be nurturing!
What better way treat on a summer day than homemade ice cream? Especially when the children can make it themselves! You will need one pint-sized Ziploc bag and one gallon-sized Ziploc bag for each child, along with the ingredients below, per bag.
Combine ice cubes (enough to fill each gallon-size bag about half full) and ½ cup salt in each gallon bag. (Kosher or rock salt works best, but table salt is fine.)
Per pint-sized bag, combine:
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seal pint-sized bag. Place pint-size bag inside gallon-size bag and seal gallon-size bag. Give to child to shake for five minutes. You will be able to feel the contents change consistency. Once mixture thickens and hardens, it is ready to eat straight out of the pint-sized bag! Add fruit, candy bits, or cookie crumbles for an extra treat!
Keep enjoying the summer!