Sunday, June 16, 2013

Summer Bliss

sum·mer 1  (smr) n.

1. Usually warmest season of the year, occurring between spring and autumn and constituting June, July, and August in the Northern Hemisphere, or, as calculated astronomically, extending from the summer solstice to the autumnal equinox; "they spent a lazy summer at the shore"

2. the period of finest development, happiness, or beauty; "the golden summer of his life"

However, if you live in St. Louis, summer vacation for our kids begins in late spring and weather conditions aren't always conducive to enjoying a dip in the pool or a trip to the zoo. The kids have been out for 30 days and half of them have been either rainy or too cool for swimming.

What's a mom to do?

I've come up with a list of 6 indoor activities to keep your school-aged kiddos from climbing the walls and you from retreating for the nearest closet with a family-sized bag of Peanut M&Ms: 

#1 Become scientists -- Using everyday household items, together you can do easy, yet fun experiments to spark their creativity and zest for learning new things.  Score extra points with your kids by trying out some sweet ventures that Loralee Leavitt has cooked up at  

Natalie and I tried to make a density rainbow but instead...
"We got chocolate milk," said Natalie.  She was embarrased by our candy experiment blunder, but I just reminded her that it just gives us another excuse to try it again!
#2 Have a LEGO challenge -- Write down building ideas onto scraps of paper and then have the kids take turns drawing one from a jar. Ideas such as: Build an animal that swims in the ocean, Create your own dinosaur and then name it, Make an alien that you'd find on Mars.  Then, if you want to expand their listening interests, set your Pandora station to something calming yet inspirational like Mozart, Bach or Beethoven. I found an awesome blog filled with 51 LEGO challenge ideas

#3 If you have daughters...Have an in-home spa day -- My 6 year old loves to file and paint my nails and spray my hair down with an array of mousse and hair gels.  If you're lucky, you may get a chance to enjoy a Cosmo or People under the guise of "dramatic play". Go here for more than a dozen facial, foot and nail treatments to do with kids using everyday food and kitchen items.

#4 Visit your local library -- Sign up for your library's summer reading program.  Kids earn prizes while building their vocabularies and reading skills.  Libraries also offer an array of summer programs that will keep your kids happy and engaged.  Ours has brought in professionals and aficionados from many different disciplines including juggling, magic, rope and yo-yo experts to storytelling, entomology and hula dancing.  If you live in St. Louis County go here to view their calendar of events.  If you live in the city, go here

This week we joined some friends at Oak Bend Library for an afternoon of "Digging Into the Past".  The library's youth services specialist, Laura Polak, stimulated learning and creativity using sweet treats as the catalyst.  The topic was archaeology...a seemingly (YAWN) difficult topic to get kids excited about.  However, she began the event by revving up their silly engines by asking for their help in completing a Mad Lib about Mammoths. Once she had their attention she was able to easily segue into a short, five minute powerpoint to explain the basics of archaeology. Next, she introduced them to a fun, hands-on way to become junior archaeologists.  Each child was given a toothpick, soft-chocolate chip cookie and grid sheet to plot out their dig.  The object of the game was to see how many chocolate chips they could dig out without disturbing their (cookie) site.  Next, they tried it using a crunchy chocolate chip cookie and finally a crunchy oatmeal raisin cookie.  They learned that the conditions of the site (hard versus soft) affected the difficulty of retrieving an object.  They also discovered that if the object was solid (like the raisins) it was much easier to retrieve than items that are soft and crumbly like the chocolate chips. 

Laura asks the kids how many chips they were able to remove successfully.
Connor and Noah plot out their dig.
Natalie and Ava were all business
Success never tasted so sweet!
#5 Go Bowling...for FREE! During the summer kids across the United States and Canada can bowl two free games every day!  Click here to sign up and to find a participating bowling alley near you.

#6 Watch a movie TOGETHER -- Pop up some popcorn (Click here for dozens of new popcorn recipes to try) and introduce your kids to some of the movies you enjoyed as a child...though keep in mind that movies we enjoyed may have more language than your kids have been exposed to as PG movies of the 80's are often filled with PG-13 movie language of today.  The kids and I recently watched all three of the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" movies.  And, although they might not be tops with me, the kids LOVED them and I have to admit it was a nice reprieve from SpongeBob Squarepants.  During the month of June, Family Video will give your kids a free movie rental for each A (or A equivalent) they received on their final report card. Click here for more details or to find a Family Video near you.  

I hope these ideas provide you with more golden than "get me outta here" summer moments. 

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