Oh how I remember being home during summer vacation and being bored to death. Both my parents worked and when I was old enough, I was responsible for watching my two sisters as well. After our chores were completed, we often watched TV, ate way too much junk and watched the clock for the time our parents were due home everyday. Fast forward 20 years and I am now a stay at-home momma. My disposable income isn't too disposable these days (I am attempting to earn a degree with no aid or debt, Lord help!). We live in the middle of the sticks...no theatre, no shopping....nothing! Keeping everyone happy can be a challenge. Call me a mean momma, anti-technology or whatever you please, but I refuse to let my Five yr old surf the Internet (even though she can :(, play video games, sleep until 10am, etc.
There must be others who feel as I do and who now more than ever, need to stretch a buck. I though I would share some of our summer activities thus far. Keep in mind that these activities are geared towards a Five yr old with VERY basic reading skills.
1) We "rescued" four tadpoles and put them in a mason jar. We have been observing their life cycle and maturation. Quite easy and kiddos love watching the transformation. Simply change water (use distilled water) when water looks murky and add a small lettuce leaf each week. The tadpoles will do the rest of the work.
2) We do a lot of scavenger hunts. Just yesterday, we went to a local state park and had a timed hunt. We had 10 minutes to find five items. This can be as difficult or as easy as you make it. The whole family gets involved and has a blast. Especially good for those with a competitive nature. On our hunt, we had to find mushrooms, a forked branch, moss (any kind), a piece of litter (to clean up...another lesson on preserving our earth) and something living. We had a blast and we always do. The found item can always be kept to incorporate into a craft display of some type.
3) We always have at least one ongoing experiment. This week we harvested a white flower from the garden and created a rainbow flower. Make sure you pick a large flower with a sturdy stem. Split the stem in half and place each part of stem into a small glass with colored water. For our colors we used blue and red food coloring. The end result was beautiful. Try it....your children will love this one.
4)We go to the library once per week and take advantage of all free programs they offer. Not only are you instilling the love of reading and learning in your child, but it's a great time of socialization and offers mom a bit of downtime too!
5) Once per week, we have an ice cream date night. We go thru the drive-thru at McDonalds and get a 49 cent cone and go to a local playground and enjoy our cones while we swing. This sounds pretty simple and slightly boring, but you add a beautiful setting sun and music (thanks to your car windows being down) and it turns into a treat.
6) Last week, we went to our local state park and picked up a couple of postcards for less than a dollar. My daughter got to choose who she sent her cards to and without even realizing it, she learned the proper way to address a postcard, how much postage they required, got to make trip to the post office, etc. She felt like a very big girl and can't wait to get a response from her cards.
Sometimes we forget how important the little things are to our children. Make learning a game and they will succeed.