Summer time brings about exciting opportunities for children and families as well as many potential challenges. Keeping children active, entertained and giving them continued room to learn and grow can sometimes be difficult for parents who are working or who have limited finances. It’s also important to keep in mind your child’s individual needs especially for those children who experience sensory related issues, struggle in social situations, or who are impulsive or easy to anger.
Here are a few fun and simple activities to get you started on summer adventures that won’t break your bank.
Books in the Park
Take your child to your local bookstore and find a few books they find interesting to rent. If you are unable to go to the library, bring their favorite books from home. Pack a picnic lunch and go to the park. Encourage your child to read, eat lunch and then allow for free play time.
Make Your Own Playdoh
Playdough is easy to make and great for kids of all ages! It’s a great way for children to be creative and express themselves.
- 1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have on hand)
- ¼ cup of salt
- ½ cup of water
- 3 to 5 drops of natural food coloring
- Mix together the flour and the salt.
- Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.
- Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.
Color Scavenger Hunt
A color scavenger hunt gets your kids outside and exploring all that nature has to offer. Just grab some markers and a paper bag and you have a fun adventure ahead of you!
– white paper lunch bag
- Write “Color Scavenger Hunt” at the top of your white paper lunch bag.
- Choose the colors you want the children to hunt for and use your colored markers to scribble small squares onto the front of the bag of each color.
- Pass out the bags to the children and let them have fun finding all of the colors on the bag. When they find an item that matches one of the colors, place it in the bag. When everyone is finished, sit in a circle and have a fun time having a show and tell about all of the items everyone found.
Flashlight tag is essentially hide-and-seek taken to a whole new level. One person is chosen to be “it” and is given a flashlight. Everyone else gets to hide in the back yard and wait to be found. The person who is “it” uses the flashlight to find everyone who is hiding. The first person to be found then becomes “it,” and the game starts over again. This game works for groups of kids, but it can also be played by as few as two people.
Caitlin Forrest, LCSW, is a registered play therapist with Methodist Family Health. Methodist Family Health’s emotional and behavioral healthcare services are designed to help children, adolescents and their families. Methodist Family Health offers inpatient psychiatric hospitalization for children ages 3 to 17; outpatient counseling clinics; grief counseling services; psychiatric residential treatment centers and more. For more information, visit MethodistFamily.org.