Running barefoot in the grass. Romping with the dog in the backyard. Reading a favorite book in a shady spot under a huge tree. Summer is the perfect time to unplug and savor the small things. Here are easy ways to enjoy summer with your kids:
Not only are they naturally sweet and delicious, berries are packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. Your kids will love eating them plain, sprinkling them on top of ice cream, or using them to decorate Fourth of July cupcakes. For an easy treat, let your child frost a large sugar cookie with cream cheese icing and then top with blueberries, sliced strawberries and raspberries.
There’s no better way to cool off and relax on a hot day than taking a dip in your favorite watering hole or local pool. If you don’t have easy access to a swimming spot, let your kids run through the sprinklers. They’ll love dashing and diving through the cool spray, and your lawn gets a drink, too. Afterward, bundle the kids up in large beach towels and let them eat popsicles in the sun.
Grab an Ice Cream Cone
Nothing says summer like an ice cream cone. Head to your favorite ice cream shop and let your children get a scoop of their favorite flavor. This is the perfect outing after your child’s baseball game or on a warm summer’s night when you want to kick back and relax. Also, if you have a homemade ice cream maker, try this quick and easy recipe for vanilla ice cream. Combine one pint half and half, 1-and-a-half teaspoons vanilla, and one-half cup sugar. Place the mixture in your homemade ice cream maker, following directions, and then enjoy!
Pitch a Backyard Tent
Children love camping, but it’s a lot of work for you. Just pitch a tent in your backyard and enjoy the convenience of having a stocked refrigerator and clean bathrooms just a few steps away. Grill hot dogs and hamburgers and eat outside on paper plates. Before night falls, the kids can run around the yard playing tag or hide and seek before settling into sleeping bags for a peaceful night’s rest.
Gaze at the Stars
Spread blankets on your lawn and head outside with your kids to gaze at the stars on a clear, summer night. To help your kids learn their way around the night sky, print out a star map at kidscosmos.org or visit spaceplace.nasa.gov/starfinder/ for instructions on how to make a star finder and play a star finder game.
Pack a Picnic
Watch your kids’ eyes light up when you tell them you’re going on a picnic. Let them help decide on the perfect spot for the outing, and then involve them in sandwich making, filling water bottles, and helping pack the picnic basket. There’s something special about enjoying simple food outside on a beautiful summer’s day, and your kids will feel proud of themselves for helping make the picnic happen.
Planting flowers gives your kids the perfect excuse to play in the dirt. Native flowers can be a good choice as they use less water and attract birds and butterflies to your garden. Visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at wildflower.org/collections for a list of recommended native plants in your area.
Try this easy homemade bubble solution that you can make in minutes. Use a half cup of dish detergent (I prefer “Joy” or “Dawn”), five cups cold water, and two tablespoons glycerin. Carefully measure and stir together the soap and water. Add the glycerin — it helps make the bubbles more durable and last longer. Your children can dip their bubble wands in the mixture, wave the wands around, and giggle with delight as bubbles fill the air.
Do Art in the Park
Pack crayons, paper, colored pencils, paints and any other supplies your children might like and then head to the park and let your kids breathe in the fresh air and exercise their creative muscles with you.
Read a Good Book
One of the best things about summer is that your kids can choose any books they want to read at all. Participate in local summer reading programs that offer incentives for reading, since plenty of kids seem to need them these days. Encourage your kids to find a shady spot outside and delve into a good book. For suggestions of books your child might enjoy, check out the Association for Library Service to Children’s 2013 reading list at ala.org/alsc/.