Family activities do not require in-depth planning nor do they have to be financially costly, especially in the summer. The longer daylight hours are conducive to spending time outside to enjoy each other's company with fun family activities.
Ideas for Outdoor Family Activities in the Summertime
Below are a few easy, fun family activities that foster family bonding while also supporting your child's growth and development.
- Sounds of Summer. There are many benefits of nature for children, which should be taken advantage of during the summertime. Explore nature all around you by bringing a recording device outside and walking around with your child recording the sounds of summer. Depending upon the age of your child, have her identify birds chirping, insects buzzing, frogs croaking, dogs barking, cars going by, people talking and any other noises of the city or country. This type of activity fosters auditory discrimination, an important pre-reading skill. Older children might also record the sounds of summer evenings and see how they differ. At a later time your family can replay the tape and make a game out of identifying or imitating the sounds.
- Search for Insects. Insects can be found everywhere, on leaves or plants, under rocks, in soil and in the bark of trees. Younger children are often entranced by watching ants build their houses, ladybugs crawl up their arms or caterpillars sit on a leaf. Preschool children can take photographs of insects in action. Older children might bring a guidebook or use the internet to identify insects. Another thought is for children to keep a journal in which he enters representational drawings of the insects.
- Make Nature Bracelets. While taking nature walks or playing outside as a family, you and your child might create nature bracelets. Wrap masking tape on your wrists with the sticky side out. As you walk, you collect small twigs, seeds, grass and leaves and stick them on your bracelets.
- Make and Fly Kites. Making a kite is a simple but fun family activity that allows your child to design and construct a toy that will be used for fun while exploring the forces of nature. For the simplest kites, cut a large piece of thick construction paper into a diamond shape, paint the diamond, attach a string and it will soar. A more sophisticated technique is to take two thin dowels (approximately 24 inches and 30 inches), form a cross and tie them together using string or a pipe cleaner. Then cut the diamond shape out of fabric or heavy paper (children can create pictures and designs with fabric markers) and glue the diamond to the frame.
- Create with Chalk. Drawing or writing on pavement with chalk brings out the artist in everyone. Older preschool children might play "copy the letter", "hopscotch" or a "guess the sound" phonetics games. School-age children can write messages or play games such as hang-man or tic-tac-toe. Parents of toddlers might draw a racetrack (on which children can race cars), play a "what's missing" game (draw three objects then erase one) or perhaps a "matching" game (which of these two figures are the same) as part of a fun family activities for the summertime.
- Ball. Playing ball is an activity that is enjoyed by all age groups. It is open ended, and encourages physical, social and emotional development. An older baby will roll or throw a ball and by returning the ball, the adult can easily start a reciprocal game. A toddler can kick a soccer ball or perhaps play "basketball" using a box or plastic wastebasket. Preschool children play catch, modified soccer, basketball, baseball or football. It is lots of fun to just throw a ball against a wall and catch it.
The most important aspect of these activities is to enjoy the connection with our children. Many parents are not aware of the potential educational values that each activity provides, especially the benefits of spending time outdoors. Children constantly use their imaginations and their small muscles to write and draw. They develop hand-eye coordination as they throw and catch a ball. They learn about life cycles while observing insects. They also learn to solve problems through investigation and develop social skills as they collaborate or take turns while playing games.
There are many delightful family activities you can do with your child. Just use your imagination and they will too. Sharing the wonders of the outside world go a long way in fostering family connection, while giving everyone a breath of fresh air.
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