Summer’s comin’! Are you ready? I came up with this blog post after using the posters (featured below) for an end-of-the-school-year bulletin board. It garnered such incredible feedback from the parents that I thought y’all might get some use out of it too.
Honestly, I don’t know about you, but when I was a young mom, the month of May was a complete whirlwind, a blur, sooooo crazy busy with end of the school year activities, and after-school clubs and lessons and sports events winding down and gearing up, recitals, and graduations, and a yard that was totally out of control, that I didn’t know if I was coming or going, let alone think about summer. And then, BAM, here it would be, like a brick wall on the 1604! Instead of getting to sleep-in though, and be lazy that first wonderful morning, my eyeballs were dredged open and I was jarred out of delicious unconsciousness by a bedroom full of bouncing, wide awake kiddos huddled around my tossled bed, begging for breakfast, and quizzing me on what we were going to do that day. Whoa! Time-out kids! You gotta let mama sit with a cup of coffee for about thirty minutes before you start in on me with the needy kid stuff, c’mon! Eventually we’d get into a new routine of sleeping in, being lazy, being bored, bickering and squabbling, and spending entirely too much time vegging on the couch in front of a television – a rut that’s hard to break out of.
Soooo… for all our sanity, I’ve come up with a plan, and we’ll see how long it lasts. I’ve divided the summer into the individual weekdays. Figuring on about twelve Mondays, and twelve Tuesdays, and twelve Wednesdays…. etc. I came up with themes for each day (for variety), and then at least twelve activities for each day that we can check off the list.
Monday’s theme is CHORES, with age-appropriate jobs for the kids to do, which I hope will kind of earn the kids the fun being offered the rest of the week. In fact, you could pay your kids for their chores with play money and then charge them for the activities later on. Even fine them for whining, if necessary, but I’ll bet they’ll like having chores to do. I know my grandkids love helping with things. It makes them feel grown up.
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Tuesday is a physical and outdoorsy theme, to keep the kids active.
Check out this fun backyard Ninja Warrior Course a dad created for his daughter. There are lots of other plans on the Internet and on Pinterest.
Neighborhood KIDS (Bicycle/Tricycle/HotWheels) Poker Run:
1. Get your kids’ friends, and their moms, together for a neighborhood kid’s poker run. Need seven moms, and at least seven kids on bikes, tricycles, or Hot Wheels. Could even do roller blades, scooters, or skateboards. Each of the seven moms will be in charge of a card station (preferably right outside of their house – provided all the moms live in fairly close proximity to one another), and have beverages and snacks on hand for the kids. Each of the kids will need to bring a good, nice toy or item that they don’t want any more as their payment to play. All the toys/items will be collected into a prize basket.
2. Plot a course. Draw a map of your neighborhood, and show the boundary lines for the Poker Run and where the stations are. Pre-arrange for seven stations where the kids will collect cards from. A mom will be at each station. You’ll need a deck of cards, divided into seven portions, and a portion given to each mom for each station, and a scoring sheet for each kid showing what the order of winning hands are.
The kids will ride their bikes from point A to point B along the route, and draw a card at each station. The mom at that station will mark what the kid’s card is on their scoring sheet, offer them something to eat or drink, and send them on their way.
Basic Rules for a Poker Run: Participants meet at a pre-arranged point, and pick up details of their route and the stops they’ll need to make. Each participant is given a score card which will be filled in as they progress along the route. At each designated stop, the participants draw a card at random (or are dealt a card). The card drawn or dealt is recorded on each participant’s score card, and the winner of the event is the participant who makes the best five card poker hand (out of the seven cards they collected) at the end of the run. Normal Poker Run Events usually end with some entertainment at the designated “last stop” of the route, along with the awarding of the prizes.
There are no prizes for speed – it does not matter who is first to complete the course. It is not a race.
The winning hand is determined by standard poker hand rankings. Decide ahead of time if you will use “wild cards” and if players will be allowed to buy extra cards at any point. Some runs, for example, allow a player to replace one card in their hand by “buying” one more card at the final stop for a fixed fee.
The “last stop” can be your house, where you have a movie set up outside for the kids to watch, or it can be a nearby ice cream truck or store, or it can be a swimming pool, or a skateboard park, or bowling alley, or gaming arcade. Honestly, any place that kids would find fun. The kid with the winning poker hand will get first choice from all the toys/items paid to the prize basket. The next highest winning hand will get second choice, and so on until each kid has chosen a toy/item. You can sweeten the pot by adding some prizes of your own (i.e. a horn for their bike, a new ball cap, or beach towel, or music CD, etc.).
There are lots of ideas for a Nature Scavenger Hunt (do a Google search, and then pick one). If you want, its kind of fun to make plaster castings of the hoof impressions and animal tracks that you find. You might also catch a horny toad, frog, turtle, or lizard that you could bring home and place in a terrarium for a few days.
This is how you play Frisbee Golf.
Progressive Lunch Bike Ride (or Hike) If you know several moms in the neighborhood, or within close proximity to you and each other, ask them if they would like to get the kids together for a progressive lunch bike ride. Each mom will host a portion of the meal (drink, sandwich, chips, carrot sticks, apple slices, dessert, etc.). All the kids will meet at the first house for the first item of their lunch. Then they will ride their bikes (with that mom) to the next house, for the next part of their lunch. Both moms and the kids will then ride to the next house for the next portion of their lunch. This continues until all the moms and all the kids have made it to the last house and eaten all their lunch. The last house can then host an activity for the kids, like a driveway basketball game, or set up a hot wheels track, or play a backyard game of hide-and-go-seek, or play on a slip-and-slide, Croquet, volleyball or badmitten, or just do some trampoline jumping, etc. When everyone is ready to call it a day, the moms and kids can follow the course backwards to each of their houses.
A Sidewalk Chaulk Art Rally is basically just getting all the neighborhood kids together, asking them to bring their own sidewalk chaulk, giving each kid a section of the sidewalk, and putting them to the task of creating a work of art within a time limit, to be judged (or not) by the neighbors, or parents, or whomever you wish. Provide drinks and snacks for the kids. Be sure to take a nice photograph of each finished creation, even video the works in progress, and interview each artist. Your local newspaper may even be interested in doing a story on your event. You can host the rally in your neighborhood, cul-de-sac, or neighborhood park.
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Wednesday features activities to challenge their little noggins, and hopefully keep them learning. Find Summer Bridge Activities workbooks and Brain Quest workbooks at Amazon. You can find language courses, and teach-yourself musical instrument courses online or at most libraries, or bookstores. And Walmart carries a selection of Smithsonian (science) kits in their crafts isle. And this is just one of many great places to find: Summer Reading Lists For Kids (Grades K-8)
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Thursday is all about the crafts…‘bout the crafts, and being creative and busy with their little hands.
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Friday ends the week with lots of ways to give and serve others, because it makes us feel good to do that, and turns our focus on others instead of ourselves.
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NOTE: I didn’t put anything on the posters about swimming lessons, or VBS or summer church camps, or summer movies at the local theater, or roller skating at the local rink, or bowling, which the schools usually send fliers home about at the end of the year that offer special prices and promotions. I also stayed away from costly activities like bouncy house places, trampoline parks, amusement places, laser tag, go carts, mini golf, climbing walls, and all that sort of stuff, but you are certainly welcome to add those on to each day as you wish and can afford. Have a fun and blessed summer y’all!
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all of your might as unto the Lord and not men.
Ecclesiastes 9:10 & Colossians 3:23