It’s finally summer and school is out! How do we keep our little ones occupied without the structure of school? We don’t need expensive toys or pool privileges. Going outside with your kids and exploring God’s creation in your own backyard can supply hours of enriching fun.
Mobile devices, tablets and video games have replaced exploring nature out of doors and in the natural elements. Researchers have found the more kids spend time outside the less anxious and more focused they are when it comes time to do the work of academics and school. So, along with summer reading, cook outs, and family vacations, here are some ideas for fun right outside your door.
1. Learn about a bird species in your backyard.
Learn what song it makes and listen for it; describe its colors or unique markings; check out a book at your library and learn what kind of nest it builds, what food it eats, learn what its eggs look like; buy or build a birdhouse to see if it will nest in it; draw or color a picture of it.
2. Identify a tree as you walk around the block.
Examine the leaf shape and bark; describe the texture of the bark; look for its seed; look up what color the leaves turn in the fall and what animals make their home in this type of tree; count how many you can spot as you walk around the block; use the leaf or leaves in a craft or art project.
3. Grow an herb in a pot.
Describe the seed size before planting it in the soil; make a calendar to show how many days it takes to germinate and grow; note how the seedling changes each day; discuss what it needs to grow; predict what is happening underneath the soil versus above the soil; talk about the unique flavor and scent of the herb; choose some recipes this herb can be used in; cook the recipe together and see if you can taste the herb in the meal.
4. Observe a butterfly, bee or any insect.
Look around your yard at the plants or in the grass for bugs; look closely to see if you can observe what are they doing; count their legs and eyes, talk about why they have different amounts than we do, research where they live and what kind of shelter they use; find out what flowers or plants do they prefer; make up a story or song about this bug based on what you learned.
5. Splash in a puddle.
On those rainy days when it seems like your activities are limited to go outside, enjoy a summer rain shower; splash in the puddle with your bare feet! Figure out how much water you need with dirt to make mud, talk about what happens if you add more water, or dirt; make mud pies or pizzas or whatever else you can imagine; get your hands and feet dirty; write in the mud with a stick. Share about when you made mud pies as a child; enjoy the feeling of being clean after playing in the mud.
Repeat with new birds and bugs and plants. By the end of summer you will have a lifetime of memories and a little more knowledge about the world around you. Perhaps you won't be longing for the structure of school days to return. The days and years of childhood go quickly so soak up the long summer days and go exploring in your own backyard!
Interested in our new Junior Kindergarten program for 4 year olds? Click the banner below to attend our Group Tour on June 26, 2019.