Guest post by: Sara Ditto
Hi! My name is Sara Ditto and I am a stay-at-home mother of six children ranging from an almost twelve years old to a two year old. As summer approaches each year I start getting nervous. I love that the summertime means less of a schedule, more time together, and lots of opportunities to be creative. But having all the kids’ home all day also means more dishes to wash, more snacks that are plowed through, a messier house, but most of all whining children saying, “Mom, I’m bored!” This phrase drives me NUTS!!
In order to help combat this phrase, years ago I started organizing the kid’s summers with a daily activity. I’ve found that if I don’t make a calendar and plan what I am going to do with the kids that it just doesn’t happen. With a plan, the activities actually happen and the kids will not only have something to look forward to but will not be bugging you to fill every minute of the day.
I usually spend about three days after Memorial Day (because this is the weekend that usually the city will put out their summer calendar) putting together the summer calendar. When I sit down to do plan I have the city summer schedule, parks and rec, traveling art van, swim lessons, library calendar, and any other specially published summer activity info. Then I just start plugging in the various activities that I want my family to participate in.
The next step is coming up with some day time activities to fill in the days that are slower. These don’t need to be big events like going to play miniature golf. It might just be doing a science experiment, or a craft, and or maybe renting a movie from the Red Box and everyone picking out a treat. The biggest thing is that you have a plan so the kids have something to look forward to.
Example of our family calendar in 2007
Another tip that I have is to have a big tupperware that is designated to summer activities. Throughout the year when I find crafts that are on sale I’ll throw them in the summer tupperware. Then when summer comes around you are not putting out all the money at one time. I’ve also really enjoyed ordering a few craft kids from www.orientaltradingpost.com and then splitting the package with a friend. Normally the crafts come in sets of 12 so if you have a friend or two that share the package it can be a really cheap way to fill your summer bucket.
I recently heard of an idea that I think is just so fun. It is called “Mom, I’m bored!” Idea Party. The idea of the party is to have each mom in attendance bring five summer fun kits (all the same) to exchange. You end up going home with five different kits. A kit should include everything needed for a craft, game, science experiment or activity. At the party each person goes around and shares their activity idea and then five names are drawn to take home that activity. The host of the party can then type up a complete list of all the ideas and email them out to all those that were in attendance. The more that attend the party the better! I just think this is such a fun idea!!
If you are feeling like you just don’t want to spend the time to put together your own personalized family calendar of activities here is a FREE download of a 2010 Calender pre-filled with an idea for every day this summer!! My kids absolutely have loved these activities. A shout out to my friend Emily Daley for coming up with these ideas years ago. I have certainly put them to the test and they are awesome. Don’t be hard on yourself if you loose steam and fizzle out. I’ve certainly had summers where a new baby was born and I just didn’t have the energy to be fun. There’s always next summer, right??
Wanna’ organize your own personalized activity calendar? Here are some additional ideas:
Tip: Use themes to plan your days or weeks
Make It Monday
Two for Tuesday
Funky Junky Thursday (making things out of junk)
Friday Friend Day – this really helps cut out the constant begging to have a friend over.
- Cowboy Day/week
- Life Cycle
- Human Body
Other Summer Activity Ideas
- Activities to do around Central Washington
- http://www.activitiesforkids.com/summer/calendar.htm – 15 minute daily activities – these ideas are really fun
- http://www.creativekidsathome.com/summerkidsactivities2.html – super fun crafts and summer activity ideas for your kids
- Summer can be more than just vacation time for kids; it’s also a great opportunity for parents to spend more time participating in learning activities with their children. The U.S. Department of Education’s http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/Calendar/index.html has created a summer calendar filled with suggested activities ranging from library visits and field trips to math exercises you can do at home.
- http://www.rif.org/kids/readingplanet/6938.htm “Rev Up” For Summer Reading!
- Games, prizes, family activities, books and more! RIF has it covered in this year’s summer reading guides for kids and grown-ups.
- To give you a little extra boost, RIF teamed up with Scholastic to promote their Summer Challenge. You can join a virtual reading camp, connect with readers across the country, and more. Each week you can enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win books and other prizes. How cool is that?
- Here’s another fun idea with focusing your week on PIZZA. http://www.sugardoodle.info/joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2372&Itemid=5
- The magazine “LDS Living” has come up with ideas for each day of the summer. Online they share 16 of those ideas: https://www.ldsliving.com/magazine/article/2500/16-Days-of-Summer-Fun
- 40 ways to practice your spelling words
- Blank box or cube pattern
- Factory Tours across the country
- One of the ways I taught my daughter her letter sounds, is I did it to “Pop Goes the Weasel”. All around the mulberry bush the A chased the B, the B thought it was all in fun “ah” says the A. I would just work on each letter until she got it. (Melanie Harper)
- Ready! Set! School! – Helps promote Kindergarten readiness.
- Starfall – Great resource for teaching your children to read
- Summertime, and the learning is easy (from BYU Women’s Conference)
- There was an old woman who swallowed a fly
- Virtual Field Trips
- Super fun summer activities http://tipjunkie.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-summer-fun.html and http://www.tipjunkie.com/2009/08/the-dog-days-of-summer.html
Several years ago I found a woman that had put together these AWESOME lesson plans that are focused on religion AND secular learning. They are terrific and have a lesson plan for each day of the week. When have done these lessons spread out over two summers.
Our Pioneer Heritage
Here’s another idea we tried last summer to promote reading – Climb the Beanstalk: Show children how they can achieve great heights by reading: Give them a beanstalk to climb, just like Jack’s.
MATERIALS: Roll of green crepe paper, long green ribbon (or long strand of green yarn), masking tape, green construction paper, scissors, envelope, cellophane tapeTape a strip of green crepe paper from the floor to the ceiling. Have the kids cut lots of green leaves out of construction paper. Store the leaves in an envelope in an easy to reach place.For every book children read (or books you read aloud to them), they write the book title and author’s name on a leaf and add it to their beanstalk, beginning a few inches above the floor and working their way toward the ceiling. By the time they’re halfway to the top, they may need a stepladder and your supervision to tape on their leaves. How long does it take for kid’s leaves to reach the top? You might want to write dates on each leaf.
Most all have fun with your kids and remember that the time you put into making your kids’ summer memorable will be cherished for years to come!