Please note all opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am not affiliated with any product, service, or person(s) mentioned in this post.
I hope you all are having an awesome week so far!
But man, it is HOT outside. In my part of Texas yesterday, and over the weekend, the temperatures reached 100 degrees. Definitely the dog days of summer! But that’s no excuse to get “lazy”.
So many times I’ve heard parents groan and complain about how hard it is to get kids back in the swing of things once school starts up again in the Fall. You may know what I’m talking about. There’s usually one or two parents who come dragging into work/play group a little late with a gigantic cup of coffee that first week of school. They sit down and sigh heavily as they recount the horrible morning they’ve had trying to rouse their son/daughter from bed before the sun has even made it’s appearance in the sky. THEN about the battle to get them fed, clothed, teeth & hair brushed and out the door.
It’s not an uncommon struggle and it’s totally understandable how this happens.
Even when I was a kid, I remember the excitement building as the end of the semester drew closer and closer. The idea that I can stay up long after the sun has set and not have to wake up until long after the sun rises was almost too much to keep me still in my desk.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, I rarely got to have those late to bed, late to rise days. My mother worked an early shift for her job when I was growing up. She was the type of mother who wouldn’t leave for work without making sure we were clean and fed. That meant even during Summer & Winter breaks, my sibling and I still woke up at the same time in the morning, ate breakfast, changed our clothes and were fresh to start the day. Even going into my teenage years, as I got to stay up later and wake up (a little) later, I kept that same routine on my own. I would wake up, make something to eat, shower and start my day. Because of this, once a new semester started, there was no problem getting us up and ready to go! This is why I think it’s important to keep a schedule even during breaks.
Now that my little guy starts school in just a few weeks, more than ever, it’s definitely important to me to have him maintain a schedule. While I do want him to have fun, I also feel that he absolutely needs to be prepared for his new journey. Just to keep him on track, we wake up at the same time each day and I try to make sure we have our meals/snacks at roughly the same times. Although, things do happen that cause the schedules to shift and that’s OK too.
He does attend an in-home preschool run by a wonderful woman who has been awesome at helping get him ready for Kindergarten. Currently, he goes 3 days out of the week where he gets to interact with other children around his age group and learns the alphabet, numbers, colors…etc. It reinforces a lot of what he has learned at home and allows him to start to understand what will be expected of him once he sets foot in a classroom. Overall, I’ve seen him come out of his shell to be an even more outgoing, awesome kid. We’re all better for this experience.
Of course, now that it’s summer, it hasn’t been all classroom learning. They have had some great opportunities to take some “field trips” to a local splash pad, story times, as well as taking advantage of some free summer movies at our local theaters. If you have little ones at home and not sure what things you might be able to do to keep them entertained, I would highly suggest checking your local newspaper, consulting the Magic 8 Ball that is Google, or even scanning Facebook/Twitter pages for events in your area. It’s very easy to find activities that are fun and budget-friendly!
For example, for those Texans who live in or around the San Antonio or Houston areas, a link for the Santikos Theater Free Summer Movie events can be found here. According to their site, they also offer a Kids Summer Snack Pack. It costs $4 and comes with a kids size popcorn and drink.
If you live near a Regal Cinema theater, they are currently offering $1 Summer Movie screenings until August. You can visit their site here. Enter in your location/zip code to find a list of participating theaters in your area as well as a schedule of movies.
Keep in mind that kids will need an adult to attend with them so this is a great opportunity for stay-at-home parents or perhaps even for grandparents to spend some time with the kids. However, if you happen to “call in sick” to work to see The Peanuts Movie, I won’t tell your boss. *wink*
For the days he spends at home, we’ve done a handful of crafts. Some involve fun in the kitchen because I think getting kids to help in the kitchen at an early age will help foster a love of creating and cooking in a time when more and more people are, sadly, staying out of the kitchen. Also, it provides children a chance to see how many different outlets there are for creativity. Our kitchen experiments may not always work out, but at least we tried and now we know what doesn’t work. One daily “mantra” of sorts in our home is, “We can always try again”. I make sure he knows it’s OK to “mess up” sometimes because we can learn from it.
I think one of his favorite kitchen adventures was making Watermelon Popsicles. Watermelons are in season right now and there are tons of sweet, juicy ones perfect for this project.
They are pretty simple to make. If you don’t have popsicle molds, you can use some small paper cups. You would just fill the cups with the “pop juice” (as my son calls it) and cover each cup with some plastic wrap and thread a tooth pick or popsicle stick through the top.
I blended about 2 cups of seedless watermelon cubes and 2 cups of ice cubes. Now, the watermelon was sweet enough but if you have melon that’s a little on the not-so-sweet side or if you just prefer to, you can add some sugar or other sweetener of your choice to your liking.
Once everything was blended up, we carefully poured some of the “pop juice” into the mold about 1/3 full. Next, we added some small-diced watermelon chunks to the molds, after which we topped each mold with the remainder of the watermelon mix and the popsicle sticks. Then, very gently, we placed the filled molds in the freezer and began our long, agonizing (for my little guy) wait. About 3 hours later, they were frozen and ready to eat! And boy, did we enjoy them! Super refreshing, easy, and healthier than a box of store-bought pops.
Our next kitchen adventure found us making Ice Cream in a Bag. I came across it on Pinterest and the original post can be found here.
This was another easy, fun, and tasty activity to do together. The original blog post lists the ingredients as:
1/2 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tsp. of vanilla
2 1/2 tsp. of sugar
According to the post, you place these ingredients in a sandwich-sized ziploc bag and place this bag into a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Next you surround the sandwich bag with ice cubes (about half full) and sprinkle the ice with about 6 tablespoons of coarse sea salt. After making sure all bags are sealed properly and free of excess air, take turns shaking for about 5 – 10 minutes. Then enjoy!
Embarrassingly, I ONLY had one gallon-sized ziploc bag and it, of course, got a couple of holes in the middle of our shaking, so we improvised. I placed the bag inside of a bowl with a lid and we continued on our merry way. And it turned out pretty awesomely! It took closer to 10 minutes of shaking for it to solidify into ice creamy goodness, but it was definitely delicious. We will be trying this again and even experimenting with other flavors.
We also got to work on some arts and crafts. I love crafting. I’m glad to see that my little bear is also into crafting. One of his favorite books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar so we took to making some caterpillars out of clothespins and little pom poms.
I explained to Little Guy that we had to let the glue dry before we could twist on some pipe cleaners for the antennae and use (more) glue to attach some googly eyes. He was insistent that he preferred his caterpillar as he was. I love it.
Also, since I love to crochet and have a ton of yarn, I thought it would be fun to also do some yarn craft. This is one I let him in on the decision making. He decided on making some pictures using construction paper, pom poms, yarn and glue. His end creation was a Slither.io-inspired picture. Slither.io is a newer video game that my son likes to play when he’s allowed to have “tech time” or use an iPad. I helped him glue the yarns he picked out onto the paper for him. Well, more like he made some glue squiggles on the paper and I tried to fit the yarn onto the squiggles. He completed the rest. I’m so proud!
And then he decided to make a huge construction paper zombie with some of the gigantic, red pom poms as eyes. He made sure to let me know he did not want me to take a picture of it. *cries* I loved it and it turned out pretty well. And I got to take some pictures of him making the zombie if not the final creation. Little Guy is an incredibly creative person and I’m so happy to see him take an interest in so many different things.
Does your family try to maintain a schedule even when the kids are out from school? What are some things you and your family do to keep busy during Summer? I’d love to know and I’m definitely always looking for new ideas! Feel free to leave a comment! 🙂