The summer is a time for children to ‘breathe out’ after a busy year of focused work and activity. For this reason, I recommend keeping the season as relaxed and carefree as possible while doing your best to keep a healthy rhythm to your day that the children can depend on. This daily rhythm will look different for each family but your day should include as much outdoor time as possible along with periods of both active outward play and quiet inward focus. Following are some fun ways to incorporate seasonal crafting and fun activities into your summer plans, taken from the Little Acorn Learning childcare guides. Have fun, celebrate and enjoy this beautiful season with your children!
Recycled Bird Feeder
Empty Orange Juice or Milk Jug Containers
Paint or Fabric Decoupage Material
Wire or String
Box Cutter or Sharp Knife
Ask each child to bring in an empty orange juice or milk jug container. Have an adult cut two medium-sized holes on each side of the container. Punch two holes in the top of the container and use wire or string to make a hanger on top. Have children paint or use decoupage material to decorate their bird feeder. Make two slits underneath both holes just large enough to slide popsicle sticks through. Before doing so, add a little hot glue to the slits to hold the stick for the birds to perch on. Fill with birdseed and hang these feeders near a window where the children can see them from indoors.
Organic or Homegrown Rose Petals (no pesticides)
Place petals into food processor and run until they are ground up. Place mixture in pot and add just enough water to cover mixture. Simmer for one hour. Turn heat off and let cool for another hour. Put pulp in sieve and squeeze out water (collect this rose water to be used later). Once cool enough, children can help you pinch a bit of the mixture and roll it into a bead. Make different sized beads and shapes for variety. Leave these beads out on waxed paper for two days. After the first day, use a stiff yarn needle or wire to make a hole through each one.
These beads should be handled with care and should not get wet. They may work nicely as room décor.
In times past, the sundial was a useful tool and a staple in every mother’s garden. Spend time this week making one with your child and encourage them to journal about what they find in a nature notebook.
Shallow Bowl or Plate (wood is best)
Hot Glue the dowel in a standing position in the center of your bowl or plate. When completed, take your sundial to a sunny location outside. Keep the dial in the exact same location. Go out on each hour that you wish to mark the time. You can outline the shadow of the dowel on your dial as a record or make a sketch in a nature notebook. Mark the hour spaces with a light line with a marker or paint. Alternatively, you may choose to write each number in. Enjoy!!!
Mix one part liquid dishwashing soap, one part water and one part glycerin (can be purchased at a pharmacy). The glycerin is not necessary but will make a nicer batch of bubbles. Shake up well and store in an airtight container.
To create bubble wands, experiment with wire used for beading or wire clothing hangers twisted into different shapes. You can also cut a hole in the top of a plastic food lid, attach wire as a handle and use as a bubble wand.
Self hardening clay of various colors
Have children take small pieces of clay and roll them into balls of various sizes. You can experiment with mixing colors to create a swirling effect. Bake the marbles according to the instructions on the package.
**To make beads just poke a hole through each ball with a toothpick before baking.
Marble Ring Game
With sidewalk chalk, draw a large circle on the pavement outside. Have each player place a few of their marbles inside the ring. Draw a straight line about 5-6 feet away from the ring. Each player now shoots a marble toward the ring. Whichever player gets closest to the center of the ring is the first to go. Now, each player takes turns shooting at the marbles in the ring trying to knock one or more of them out. If they knock a marble out it is theirs to keep and they can continue to shoot from the spot that their ‘shooter marble’ landed. If they did not knock a marble out, it is the next person’s turn to go.
Homemade Sidewalk Chalk
Plaster of Paris
Powdered or Liquid Tempera Paint
Spoon or Stick for Stirring
Empty Toilet Paper Tubes
Cover the outside of toilet paper rolls with duct tape completely, also covering one of the open ends of the tube. Line the inside of the tubes with waxed paper (this may work better if you glue the lining inside).
Pour one cup of warm water into the plastic container. Stir in Plaster of Paris until thick and stiff but still able to stir. Add two or three tablespoons of tempera paint. Stir. Pour mix into the molds. Let stand to dry. Remove chalk from tubes and enjoy!!!
A fun mobile can be made out of items found at the beach. Using large sticks or a piece of driftwood as support, hang seashells, starfish and other items with thread. Work carefully to balance the items so the mobile will hang straight.
Walnut Shell Boats
Use empty walnut shell halves and press a piece of clay into the center. Press a toothpick into the clay. Use paper to make a small sail. These will float in water. A beautiful thing to do on a child’s birthday would be to replace the sail with a candle, light and sent it off into the night along with a wish from the birthday child.
Homemade Ice Cream
Small Ziploc Bag
Large Ziploc Bag
Half and Half
Salt (rock salt is best)
Extras such as fruit, chocolate chips, etc.
Mix ½ tsp of vanilla extract with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 cup half and half in small Ziploc bag and seal tight. In the larger bag, add ½ cup of salt and enough ice to fill the bag about half full. Put the small Ziploc bag inside the larger bag and seal shut. Shake the bags for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes hard. Remove the small bag and add any fruit or special extras and enjoy it out of the bag! (one bag for each person)
Eileen is a work-at-home mother to four daughters. She writes and publishes monthly nature guides for parents and caregivers of young children at Little Acorn Learning and has many ideas and activities for parents on her blog at Eileen’s Place.