I absolutely love a great theme… parties, events, classrooms, and even my Summer days. I am a teacher, and stay home with my children during the Summer. I know that entertaining your own children isn’t always the easiest task. When I run my classroom, I’m at the top of my game, but ask me to keep my kids entertained and I can’t always think of something to do.
I learned years ago, when I had my first daughter, that having something to look forward to each day really helped me get through the week with my infant. Back then, Mommy Group and play dates kept me going. Now, I’ve turned that knowledge into planning my summer days so that my little ones don’t drive me crazy. Schedules keep us accountable and focused so we don’t lose our minds during what can seem like endless Summer days.
To help prevent the dreaded ‘summer slide,’ where students lose the skills they’ve gained during the year, there are some themes that I do to keep my family busy but still learning in fun ways (even if they aren’t, gasp!, doing real school work). Since I am a teacher on a budget, these aren’t elaborate or expensive, just ideas that might save your sanity and keep your children smiling during their break.
Science STEM Sunday is all about finding the easiest and least messy science experiments. I search Pinterest for age appropriate experiments or STEM activities that require very few supplies, but still have that WOW factor for my girls. Some examples are to make dancing rice, try the Skittles color experiment, create a naked egg, do the mentos geyser, fabricate a baking soda volcano, and make a traveling rainbow.
Mural Monday means traveling around your area and finding art that occurs in your own city. Sometimes these are fancy art installations created to beautify the town, and other times these are created by artists that just want to showcase their talents (aka graffiti). South Florida has a plethora of murals- so many in fact that last summer we found them every time we turned around, even if we weren’t looking for them. The search for new murals took us on adventures to new places that we otherwise wouldn’t have visited. Another unexpected positive outcome was that my children began to become more aware of their surroundings and found art everywhere we went. I didn’t expect them to get so excited about each new mural that they found. Those were priceless moments that cost us nearly nothing, and had (what I hope was, anyway) a lasting impact on my kids.
Try Something New Tuesday – this could be related to anything…. A new food, going to a new location, or trying a new experience of some kind. Be inventive!
Water Wednesdays – you can be as specific as you like, only giving your children the options you would find acceptable. Or you can be adventurous and let them choose whatever they wish. For us, this could include the pool, beach, splash pad, sprinkler, ice play, etc.
Thursday Thinkers This is when you can have your children stay busy working on school work, building legos, putting together puzzles, playing board games, figuring out riddles/brainteasers, going to the library, and visiting a museum, nature center, or aquarium. Another idea is Thankful Thursday where you focus on being grateful for what you have and going a step beyond to help others that may not be as fortunate as you are, such as creating kits for the homeless, volunteering, donating to a soup kitchen, etc.
Fun Freetime Friday This is exactly what it sounds like! Do whatever you want, whenever you want, or do nothing at all! Just lounge around in your pajamas all day and watch TV or play on the iPad if that’s what makes you all happy. If you’ve been busy the rest of the week, having a relaxing day is just what everyone needs!
Super Crafty Saturday- Completing arts and crafts projects can be fun for the entire family. Some examples are painting rocks, playdough creations, beading jewelry, hair chalk, making something for someone else, or even turning trash into treasure (a great lesson in reducing, reusing, recycling of items).
Daily Doings- Here are some things you can do each day: Reading (which should be part of your day anyway- even if it’s just magazines, detailed directions, books you enjoy, comics, etc), playing outside or at a playground, doing some quick math in the store (estimating prices, adding numbers, or calculating to save up for a special item).
None of this needs to be strict, and shouldn’t make you feel like you’re obligated to stick to it explicitly. Last Summer our ‘Mural Mondays’ sometimes became ‘We Like Art Wednesday,’ ‘Fabulous Findings Friday,’ etc. While I like to have an idea of what to do each day, others prefer to wing it and give their kids ‘old fashioned summers’ with no plans. You do what works for you! The most important thing is to enjoy your time together as much as possible. Happy Summering!