We’re a little over a week into summer holidays. I’m doing my best to remind myself that the kids need sometime to adjust to this change. My daughter’s not used to being home everyday since she was in preschool for three afternoons a week. My son’s not used to having his sister home all the time. They normally play well together, but if they’re left to themselves for too long, the screaming and crying starts. For that reason, I’m trying to be proactive this summer with crafts, experiments, and activities to keep everyone busy. We’ve already done 9 of the below suggestions. Everyone’s having fun and enjoying themselves, so it’s totally worth it!
Arts and Crafts
1. Watergun Painting: We’re looking forward to making these beautiful canvases from Fireflies and Mudpies. Add liquid watercolours to the kids’ waterguns and squirt the pain all over their canvas.
2. Paper Plate/Cup Creatures: Turn your window into an underwater world with paper plate fish and paper cup octopi. Use bingo daubers to create fish scales and ribbon to create octopi tentacles.
3. Sensory Hula Hoop: Using a hula hoop, create a beautiful sensory toy for your baby to explore. Special thanks to Apartment No. 12 for this idea!
4. Draw Music: Play an upbeat intense song and challenge your kids to draw the music. Then, play a quiet relaxing song and draw it. Discuss how the two drawings look different.
5. Straw Blown Painting: We tried this art activity from The Imagination Tree a few weeks ago and both my three and five year old enjoyed this. Drop small amounts of liquid paint onto paper, then use a straw to blow it all over the page. After, use your imagination and see what you can see in the paint (like you do with clouds).
6. Pom Pom Pusher: Find a plastic container with a lid (yogurt or cottage cheese containers would work). Cut a few holes the size of your pom pom into the lid of a plastic. Allow your toddler to push the pom poms into the container. Empty and repeat.
7. I Spy Jar: Find a glass jar and fill with bibs and bobs from around the house (dinky cars, beads, tiny toys, etc). Fill the remainder of the jar with rice. Play I Spy with your toddler while in the car or at restaurants. Check the Intellidance post, DIY Sensory I Spy Bottles for Kids, or visit Red Ted Art for more ideas.
8. Sensory Box: Create a sensory box, like Meri Cherry, with different textured ribbons hanging down from it for your baby or toddler to explore.
Dance and Movement
9. Play musical hugs: Dance to the music, when the music stops find someone to hug.
10. Jack Be Nimble: Learn our Intellidance version of Jack Be Nimble to teach your toddler about their body parts and different pitch.
11. Follow the Leader: A leader is chosen and s/he moves over, under, around, and through the room. All the others follow the leader. Change leaders and repeat. For a musical addition, play the song, Follow the Leader by the Soca Boys to get in the spirit! (be sure to get the version without swearing)
12. Bubble Dance: Blow some bubbles and dance. Don’t have any bubble solution? Extend the activity by making your own. Look for a recipe with glycerine in it, as that’s what makes for long lasting bubbles.
13. Ribbon Wands: Tie a series of ribbons to a binder clip, wooden ring, or hair elastic. Check out Buggy and Buddy for additional tips. Then, dance, dance, dance!
14. Animal Dance: Create some cards with different animals on them; this could be done as a craft earlier in the day. You could draw them, cut them out of magazines, or print them off the internet. Randomly choose a card and spend a few moments talking about how that animal moves (fast/slow, high/low, quiet/loud, which body parts they use… think Intellidance themes). Then, dance like that animal. Additionally, read the story, From Head to Toe by Eric Carle, which shows different ways animals move.
15. Simon Says: The leader is “Simon” and tells the others what to do by saying, “Simon says…” Everyone follows what Simon says, but if Simon doesn’t say “Simon says” prior to telling everyone what to do, and someone still does that movement, then they are out of the game. If you don’t want anyone to feel left out, simply remind them that Simon must say “Simon says” and continue playing.
16. Glow Stick Dance: Turn out the lights, shut the curtains, and dance with glow sticks.
17. My Ball is Round: Learn the Intellidance® action song My Ball is Round, then bounce, roll, and spin balls around the floor.
18. Walking Water: Last week, we created walking water thanks to WizKid Science. Create a beautiful rainbow that will teach your little ones about absorption and saturation.
19. Elephant Toothpaste: What happens when you combine hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and yeast together? Check out this messy experiment!
21. Rock Candy: Jump over to Growing a Jeweled Rose and teach your little ones about sugar crystals, but mostly patience (LOL), while creating your own candy over a week at home.
22. Pots and Pans: Playing with pots and pans never gets old. Find your most unique utensils, pots, and pans, and bang away. As your little one gets older, explore the different sounds that different materials will make.
23. Mirrors: One child is the leader and the other is the mirror. The leader moves slowly so the “mirror” can follow the leader’s movements. Then, switch roles.
24. Teddy Bear Hunt: Hide your kids stuffies around the house and let them try to find them. (Depending on your little one, you can want to talk to them about this in advance, so you don’t have any sad kiddos that are missing their stuffie.)
25. Tilt the Bottle:
One pair of nylons or tights
One or two tennis balls
Four or five empty bottles
Set up the empty bottles in a small circle. Place the tennis balls into the foot of the nylons, and place the nylons on your head. Swing the nylons/tennis balls to knock over the bottles. Laugh hysterically!
26. Don’t Let the Balloon Fall: Keep a balloon in the air for as long as possible by punching and kicking it.
27. Drip, Drip, Drop:
One bucket of water
A group of friends
This game is played the same as Duck, Duck, Goose, but the sponge gets wrung out on the persons head when you say “drop.”
Cooking and Snacks
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup of heavy cream.
2 Tbsp of white sugar
1 tsp of vanilla.
Mix juice and cream together. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Pour into your orange creamsicles into molds. Alternately, blend fresh (or frozen) strawberries until you have approximately 1 cup and substitute them for the orange juice to make strawberries & cream popsicles.
29. Dirt Pudding:
1 package of chocolate cookies
Chocolate instant pudding
2 cups of milk
8 oz. Cool whip
Crush several cookies in the zip-lock bag. Mix pudding with milk according to the box directions. Stir in the cool whip. Place 1 Tbsp of cookies in cup, then ¾ cup of pudding, and another Tbsp of cookies. If you like, add a few gummie worms.
30. Banana on a Stick:
2 Wooden skewers
Graham cracker crumbs, coconut, or chocolate chip
Peel banana and cut in half. Push skewer into flat end of banana. Dip banana in yogurt and roll in graham crackers or other ingredient.
31. English Muffin Pizzas:
Pepperoni, ham or other meat
Pineapple, red peppers, olives or other veggies
Spread muffins with pizza sauce. Add toppings and grated cheese. Place in oven at 350° for approx. 15 minutes.
Pint size glass jar with lid
Pour cream into jar. Add a pinch of salt. Tighten lid. Shake jar until butter starts to form. Spread on crackers and enjoy.
Out and About
32. Wading Pools/Spray Parks/Outdoor Pools: Play at one of Calgary’s outdoor water features, such as their wading pools, spray parks, or outdoor pools during hot summer’s days.
33. Bike Riding: Check out one of the Play Outside Guide’s 10 fun family bike rides in Calgary.
34. Camping trip: Spend the weekend unplugged while roasting marshmallows around a campfire at one of these five favourite campgrounds from Tanya Koob who writes Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies. Make it a stress free trip with these ten tips.
35. Big Hill Springs Provincial Park: Spend about an hour hiking through the Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. Clamber over the large rock formations. Balance along old logs. Explore the teepees built throughout the trail. And, don’t forget to bring the kids’ rubber boots, so they can splash in the spring’s creek at the end of the hike. If you go now, during mid-July, all the Saskatoon berries should be ready for picking.
36. GlobalFest: Explore everything GlobalFest has to offer! Visit the Children’s Village. Buy cultural art and keepsakes at the Night Market. Dine on food from around the world. Learn about different cultures in the pavilions. And, stay up late to enjoy the fireworks and accompanied music.
37. MacKay’s Ice Cream: Drive out to Cochrane for some of the best ice cream in the area. Be prepared for a line-up during the summer month. We always have one adult stand in line while the other one takes the kids for a walk around the quaint shops.
38. Calgary Public Library: Visit Drop-in Story Time at the library or check out some of the other events they’re offering over the summer.
39. Berry picking: If you don’t make it to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park for Saskatoon berries, you can visit The Saskatoon Farm. Make a day trip out to the farm and pick berries as a family. If you have the space in your yard, buy a few Saskatoon bushes, so you can have berries every year. Or, buy another try of berry for the yard; it just so happens our family is obsessed with Saskatoons hence all the talk about them. We know of another two or three areas in the city to go picking, but we’re not telling. LOL! No, seriously, if you want to know where to go for berries, just ask!
40. Behind-the-Scene Zoo Experience: Get closer to the zoo family with an intimate Behind-the-Scenes Zoo Experience. A zookeeper will share artifacts and anecdotes while guiding you through the behind-the-scenes tour.
41. Calgary’s Farmers Market: We love visiting Calgary’s Farmer’s Market! Enjoy lunch at Sandwiched- seriously, the BEST! Grab dessert at Jelly Modern Doughnut. Pick up your produce at Blush Lane, and your meat at Silver Sage Beef. When you’re done, let your little ones play at the Barn Yard.
And, lastly, join me this August for a mini Intellidance session!
Happy summer holidays!