Spending Summer at home with kids means fun, water games and crazy schedules, right? Well, yes, but, let’s be honest, it frequently also means facing the inevitable “I AM BORED” (with tons of emphasis) and “I don’t know what to do!” and, in those cases, having a few summer themes and activities that are easy to put together in a whim and that will keep our children happy and stimulated becomes very (VERY) important.
So, if you are facing the prospect of a full month of August at home with your kids, and would like to be prepared, this post is for you! I have put together my tips for planning themes and gathering activities around them, so that you can plan the ones that are best for your child, and I have included a downloadable pdf with a list of great things to have at home to quickly put together fun projects and games. You can take this list with you when shopping for supplies and you can also use it as a checklist for things to recycle.
WHY PLAN ACTIVITIES AROUND THEMES
I know you may be wondering this. I also asked myself this question in the past and, after having tried this system, here are my reasons:
* Having a few themes makes it easier to find activities (I’ll show you how)
* It is easier to gather resources,which can then be reused several times within the same them
* Children get to explore a subject in greater depth, and when the subject is one they are already interested in, they get the most out of it.
Ready to get started? Here are my tips!
HOW TO PLAN FUN SUMMER THEMES AND ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
1) Observe your child: What does your child like? What activities does he enjoy? What is he attracted to? What books does he prefer? Follow you child’s lead when choosing themes for greater success. For example, one of our themes this year is Space, because both Luka and Zoe are fascinated with stars, planets, galaxies, aliens and the solar system. As a consequence, every activity I suggest in this theme is quickly embraced and we have been able to do much more with it than if I had randomly chosen something else.
2) Think about some areas where your child may be struggling: Look at what your child is struggling with and use the opportunity to reinforce those areas through play and fun activities. Let him learn without realizing it. For example, if your child has an immature pencil grip or can’t use scissors properly, you could check this website for ideas on games that you can do with him in order for him to get better . If your child needs to work on controlling his temper, or getting better at socializing, you could check this website, makes face dolls with toilet paper rolls, use puppets to talk about feelings, etc.
3) Pick a few themes. After you have observed what your child likes and what he needs, decide on a few themes. I like to chose just a few, no more than 3 or 4, because I find that a bigger number can be overwhelming, especially when planning.
4) Create Pinterest boards: This is the fun part where we get to use pinterest for research 😉 I suggest opening a pinterest board for each theme, it will help you keep everything organized-remember that you then have to be able to use those ideas and in order to do that, you first need to find them.
5) Research: I use pinterest a lot for this purpose and I also visit my favorite children blogs. Here they are:
All the bloggers in this pinterest board
Remember to look for activities that are developmentally appropriate. If they are too easy, your child may get bored. If they are too difficult, he may become frustrated. Show him the next step, not the end of the ladder.
6) Start making lists of activities for each theme
7) Take a good look at your lists and ponder:Which ones are more complicated and require some preparation (example, planning an experiment, or building a rocket ship according to NASA’s instructions)?Which ones can be put together in no time and are sure to entertain bored little minds? Take a calendar and plan when to do the more complicated ones, but be realistic with your time and resources. I normally mix a more complicated one per day, or every two days, with simple ones (such as sensory work) and free time. You can decide to schedule themes per week or mix them all during the week, according to your child’s motivation and interests.
8) Write a bucket list. From each theme, select some to put into your list of things that you don’t want the Summer to end without having done. Themes aside, which other experiences do you wish to have this summer with your children. Make this a summer to remember!
9) Make a list of emergency activities Make a list of activities that are reaaaaaaaly easy to put together in a whim, for emergencies, and glue it to your fridge. I find that sensory work and water play work wonders in these cases.
10)Gather the materials: Now that you know what you want to do, look around your house: what do you already have that can be used?What do you need to buy? I find that a well stocked art basket/box is a precious tool because it allows us to always have the right resources on hand to bring all our projects to life. Luka and Zoe call it “the magic box” because we always find something fun to do with it. In order to help you put one together, I have attached below a pdf with my own list of resources. Use it to gather things around the house and to go shopping, if needed!
Click here to get the pdf list “what to include in an art box“
Last but not least, my dear friend Jo Ebisujima wrote a fabulous kindle ebook with +50 Montessori activities for kids aged 2-6 years old that was written by my dear friend Jo Ebisujima (she interviewed me last Sunday, by the way) and which is being offered FREE TODAY. So go grab your copy!
Now it’s your turn: do you plan your summer activities? which are your favorite ones? Let me know in the comments below!