Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Fun is Here!

Start out by planning your summer! This took us almost all day long. We like to print off calendars from May until August, and put all the crucial information first. Things like 1st day of school, and enrollment... Then we check different calendars and add all the organized activities we will be attending. Unfortunately, this year we didn't have too many to add. There will be no Topeka Treasure Hunt, no Sundown Film Festival at the museum, no Movies on the Lawn at the Capitol Building, and no Faith and Family Day for the Royals baseball team. You can imagine our disappointment this year! We did still come up with a very fun summer. Most of our activities will be planned by us.

Theme Days. We LOVE a good theme day! We've done Disgusting Day. VeggieTales. Rainbow Day 2011. Rainbow Day 2010. Dr. Suess. Beauty Day.

Slip N' Slide. Some good ol' fashioned family fun.

Dollar Craft Days. There are always fun, CHEAP, crafts to do with your children. For our first craft we're going to be making macaroni jewelry. You can dye all different shapes of macaroni with rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Allow them to dry, and string them together in fun patterns.

Picnic at the park. If all else fails, there are tons of parks to visit. Find a new one in your city that you've never been to before. Last year we challenged ourselves to visit every single park in Topeka. We only made it to about two-thirds of them... that was almost 30 different parks. This summer we've already picked up right where we left off.

Dance Praise Competition. Ever heard of DDR (Dance Dance Revolution)? There is a Christian competitor that plays all Christian music. We were very fortunate to find a second dance pad at the Goodwill store a few months back for $3. This is wonderful exercise, uplifting music, and a little competition on the side.

Coded Treasure Hunt My kids LOVE to hunt. We use a very simple code to make the clues in, and hide them throughout the house. The last clue always sends us somewhere fun, like out for ice cream, or a special treat.

Visit the elderly. We're going to make some cards to bring to an older lady in our church. The perfect activity to take the focus off of us and place it on doing good for others.

Goodwill / Salvation Army. Use what you find! I love to search through other peoples things and find a new treasure. We're going to buy new books or movies, toys or games, and then go home and put them to use immediately.

Soccer Game. I'm sure most elementary schools have an open field. My kids love to go back to their school in the summer time. We pack a picnic lunch and play on the toys having recess for as long as we desire. This time we're going to bring our soccer ball and have a family game!

Chocolate Day! A family favorite. We melt some chocolate almond bark, and dip till our hearts content. We dip marshmallows, bananas, strawberries, pretzels, potato chips. (My son has even tried dipping broccoli.) We're going to combine this with a visit to the Critter Mobile (Our library has a special animal bookmobile that changes weekly. You can pet a snake one week, a rabbit the next, cats and dogs, all different animals.) We'll bring home our books and movies, and dip our chocolate! We'll be careful not to get the books dirty, of course.

Friday Flicks - Every Friday our library offers a movie from 2pm-4pm. We're going to take advantage of this on a few Fridays!

The Schedule :
Jun 1 – Cars 2
Jun 8 – The Muppets
Jun 15 – Happy Feet Two
Jun 22 – Rio
Jun 29 – Dolphin Tale
Jul 6 – The Smurfs
Jul 13 – Kung Fu Panda 2
Jul 20 – Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
Jul 27 – Puss in Boots

Penguin Plunge. Our zoo has a temporary exhibit of penguins. We're going to plan a day around it. We'll visit the penguins, make a penguin craft, and probably put together penguin shaped pizzas for lunch!

Dad's Special Day. No, we're not talking about Father's day here. We're talking about spoiling our dad as soon as he comes home from work. We'll set the mood, decorate the house, cook him a gourmet meal, and then serve him the minute he walks in the front door.

Breakfast at the Museum. Our museum offers beautiful hiking trails. We do this every year and it's always something the kids look forward to. We bring our camping stove and cook pancakes and sausage. We bring a fruit salad and feast with our friends. Then once our bellies are full we hike around the grounds. This year we're going to do a nature scavenger hunt on the hike. We'll bring some gallon sized Ziplocs and have the kids find all kinds of things; anything from a blade of grass, to something rough, to man-made litter, to a feather, a rock, or a berry. We'll have them search for it all. (We will include a latex glove to handle the stuff with.)

International Fest. This is something our church used to do each year and has since fallen off the calendar. We're going to dress up like we're from different countries, eat new foreign foods, and learn about missions around the world.

Spray Park. Our city has a wonderful new addition that came just last summer. It's a new water park and it's free. (Basically, it's various water fountains the kids can run through.)

Book Day. We're all going to be lazy for a day and read an entire book by ourselves. Then we're going to write book reports and give oral presentations to each other.

Trilogy Day. The kids love to watch movies, and during the summer that can get out of hand. I try to just say no, unless it's our group activity and it's happening outside of the house. For one day we have chosen to watch the Narnia trilogy. We're going to make some caramel popcorn and be very LAZY ALL DAY LONG. (This is happening right after I go for an entire week long out of city kid's camp ... as a coach. I know I'm going to be tired!)

Alphabet Hunt. I love to make my kids think! We're going on a nature hike and we're going to find the ABC's every step of the way. A is for ant. B is for bark. C is for caterpillar... We'll probably be pretty warm by the time we're done and finish off our outing with some Hawaiian ice!

Fly Kites. We love to fly kites at the governor's mansion. They have some beautiful grounds that you are free to explore and picnic on. They also have huge open areas that are perfect for a day of kite flying.

Science Day. My kids love theme days. We always have several each summer vacation. This one is going to be full of science experiments. Maybe we'll even experiment on some new recipes for lunch.

Jesus Bingo. Another favorite activity for the kids. This year we let go of some of our more traditional days we've done in the past, but this one held on. After the holidays I always pick up very clearance Easter, Valentine, and Christmas party favors. They make wonderful prizes for BINGO. We like to vary the game a little and use Jesus for our letters written on the back patio in sidewalk chalk. The middle space is salvation, and of course it's free. When you win you have to yell out, "Jesus Saves!" Once the game is over we'll celebrate with some homemade ice cream! Yum!

Barnes & Noble scavenger hunt. We'll have a list of things to find together as a group. Everyone will need to choose their favorite recipe from a book, a funny joke in the joke book section, a place they want to visit in the travel section, favorite childhood book in the kids section, and so forth. Afterwards we'll all head to the coffee shop for a treat!

Art Day. We might visit the art museum. Make art with our lunch. Use paint or clay. Anything artistic will be allowed!

Tea Party. This has been around for at least 6 years now. It never gets old and my boys even love it. We bring a tablecloth, some hot water and various kinds of tea, along with scones, muffins, and fruit. We have a beautiful gazebo in a garden that we lay out our refreshments in. We bring real teacups and saucers and have ourselves a tea party outdoors.

Lunch with Dad. We'll pack a sack lunch and head to my husband's work. They have a fun spot that is perfect for a family picnic. It's a nice highlight for my husband's work day.

Water Fun. So simple, yet so fun for the kids. This time we saw a fun idea in the May edition of Family Fun magazine that we're going to try out. It uses pool noodles and toilet paper tubes to build some obstacle course equipment. I can't wait to try the idea!

Shadow Puppet Theater. We're going to make new puppets for our shadow theater, and put together a scripted play. When it gets dark outside, we'll put on a spectacular show for dad.

Sewing Day. There are always crafts my kids want to sew. We're going to spend the day working on a project together.

Game Marathon Day. This is not as simple as it sounds. We've come up with the ultimate game idea. Each room of our house is going to hold a different board game, and probably a snack. We might have my room be Clue. My daughter would be Trouble. My sons would be Candy Land. You get the idea. Once all the games are set up, we'll start the game marathon. Everyone will move between rooms together taking 1 turn on each game, in each room. The idea is we'll be playing multiple games all at the same time. Sounds a little weird and complicated, huh? We wanted a new spin on game day!

Healthy Day. We're going to try all kinds of health food. Lots of new vegetables! Maybe some new fruits and grains. It's going to be a very interesting day! We'll also be spending a lot of our time exercising. Running around the block, doing some jumping jacks, riding bikes, maybe some sit-ups, anything that is good for you!

Cookie Day. After you have healthy day and worked so hard, you gotta treat yourself to some good stuff. Everyone is going to choose their favorite cookie to make. Then we'll drive around and deliver cookies to all our friends! It will be another day for us to spend thinking about others.

Journey to the Center of the Earth. Each summer we choose a classic children's literature book. I take all summer long to read the book aloud to my children. We try to tackle a chapter or two a day. At the end of the summer, our big party is to do a theme day around that book. We'll normally watch the movie, and maybe do a craft or something special that has to do with the story. It's a great way to get back into the scholastic spirit.

What do you have planned to do this summer? I love to keep my kids busy. I don't ever want to hear, "I'm bored!" escape the lips of my children. In all honesty, the first year my daughter had a summer vacation after kindergarten, I felt like we squandered it. We came to the end and had nothing to show for it. I only have a few precious days that I can call my own when it comes to my children; I want to be making the most of every day I've been given.

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