Tag Archive for summer

Family Summer Fun

Summer has arrived, school is out, and kids are home. Summer provides a great opportunity for parents to enjoy time with their children without the demands of school and school activities. What can you do to enjoy time with your children this summer? Here are 10 ideas.
     1.      Have a water battle. Get out the hose, fill up the squirt guns, gather the water balloons, and let the battle begin. Family members of all ages enjoy a good water battle, especially on a hot summer day. My children still talk about the “water battle with grandpa” and their cousins. If you want to get wet on a hot summer day without the battle, just turn on a water sprinkler and let your children play.

2.      Become sidewalk chalk artists. You can purchase inexpensive sidewalk chalk at the dollar store. Then, let your children’s creativity flow as they draw on your sidewalk and driveway. Don’t worry; the chalk will wash away with the first rain. If the rain doesn’t come, simply wash it off with the hose. For those who are very artistic and want a real challenge, try drawing some 3-D pictures like the ones found at this link.
Other ideas involving outdoor art include making murals with butcher paper and markers or building sand castles and sand sculptures at the beach, or simply sitting on the porch to color. For a little inspiration, check out these sand sculptures.

3.      You can find outdoor concerts during the summer months as well. My family and I went to an outdoor symphony concert (Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra) early in June this year.  My children and I also enjoy going to the outdoor jazz concerts downtown
throughout the summer. In addition, several area parks have outdoor concerts during the summer months. These concerts are often free and always casual. Pack a snack, go to the park, and enjoy great music and one another’s company.

4.      Go to a local farmer’s market this summer as well. You can share fresh fruit and other goodies, often at a relatively low cost. If you would like a little more activity, find a local “pick your own produce” farm
in your area. Go to the Pick Your Own site to find a “pick your own farm” in your area. Enjoy time as a family picking strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or other fruit. Bring the fruit home and include your children in preparing it the way you like it. Then the best part, enjoy eating it together.

5.      Summer evenings are filled with opportunities for fun. You can have a picnic in your yard. Enjoy a small campfire. Make some smores. Catch some fireflies.  Put up tent and sleep outside. Enjoy stargazing. Play capture the flag.

6.      You don’t have to wait until evenings for outdoor fun in your yard. Put up a bird feeder and watch the birds as they come to eat. Identify the types of birds you see. A hummingbird feeder provides extra special excitement as you watch hummingbirds flutter at the feeder. You can also plant some flowers that will attract butterflies.

7.      What about those rainy days? Get your child a library card and go to the library on rainy days. Libraries often have various activities throughout the summer. Our library had a rabbit the children could visit, lunch reading dates, various book theme parties, and book discussion groups for older children. Check out your local library to see what they offer. While you are there, get a few books to read on your vacation.

8.      Bowling is another rainy day activity. Visit kidsbowlfree.com to learn how any child under 15-years-old can bowl two games every day this summer for only the cost shoe rentals. I’m not a great bowler, but I have a great time playing, talking with my family, and sharing the time it takes to bowl (and even making fun of my lack of skill). It is a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy.

9.      Churches have Vacation Bible School during the summer. These activities range from programs that last 2-3 hours per day for a one-week to 3-week day camps at some of the larger congregations. You can check with various churches in your area. This is a great activity for children to attend. They learn a lesson about Christ, have a snack, and do crafts as well as have a great time with good adult supervision.

10. Finally, don’t forget to just enjoy some down time. Make sure you and your children have time to do nothing…time to relax and recharge. Let your children rest. Take the time to enjoy resting with them. When they say “I’m bored” reply with “Good. That gives you the chance to come up with something fun to do on your own.” Let them figure out how to entertain themselves. Enjoy watching how their creative minds come up with something out of nothing to have some of the best times of the summer.
Whatever you do, enjoy your summer. Make the most of your time. Build connections. Celebrate. Relax. Have fun!

Family Road Trip Games

Remember “Star Trek”? Whenever Captain Kirk wanted to come home from a planet, he flipped open his communicator and said, “Beam me up Scotty.” Within seconds he was transported from one location to another. I always wanted a transporter to get to and from vacation spots. Alas, we have to drive. We pile our family and luggage into the car for a “3 hour tour” (Sorry, I switched TV metaphors). Anyway, our 3 hour tour generally seems to last all day. Fortunately, even the road trip can become a fun part of the vacation when you have a few activities planned. We have found several activities that make the road trip more enjoyable and I thought I would share some with you. Hope you enjoy them and your family vacation.
Use a Playlist: Talk to each of your family members about their current favorite songs or albums. Put together a playlist of everyone’s favorites. During the trip, sing along to each person’s favorite music for a portion of the trip. By the way, don’t just use everyone’s playlist to sing along. Use familiar melodies and make up your own words.
The License Plate Game: Print out a U.S. map and mark off each state as you see the corresponding license plate. See if you can find a license from each of the 50 states during your summer travels. This can be a family project or a competition to see who finishes first.
The License Plate Game, Part 2: Look for “designer plates” and call them out. For instance, if you see “KLNX BX,” yell out “Kleenex Box.” You can also use “non-designer plates” to make up your own words and phrases. For instance, “DLP” on a plate might be “Dollop” or “CHT 9032” might be “CHaT at 9:03 too”. See who can make up the most creative words…you might find a budding Dr. Seuss.
Play Cards: Bring a deck of cards and play “Go Fish,” “Old Maid,” “500,” or any other game your family enjoys.
Hand (or Back) Writing: One person closes their eyes while another person “writes” a letter or word on their back or hand. The person with their eyes closed has to guess what was “written.” 
Tell Jokes: Take turns telling jokes—”Knock, Knock” jokes, riddles, or plain old funny stories. If you don’t know many jokes, get book from the library and take turns reading jokes out loud.
Cat’s Cradle: My daughters enjoyed making string figures like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Whiskers.” Don’t ask me how…I never could figure this one out.
I Spy: One person secretly identifies an object that everyone can see. He then says, “I spy with my little eye something…” and identifies the color of that object. Everyone else has to guess what the object is until someone figures it out. The first person to figure it out gets to pick the object for the next round.
20 Questions: This game is sometimes called “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.” One person thinks of an object but does not tell anyone what it is. The other players ask questions, trying to determine the object in less than 20 questions. Many people ask if it is “animal, mineral, or vegetable” to get started. (I always got stuck at this question–is it a vegetable or a fruit? And what really constitutes a mineral? Is a tree animal, mineral or vegetable? I don’t know…after all, I’m a psychologist not a biologist.) 
The Alphabet Game: Start with the letter “A” and find one on a sign, truck, or building. Identify the letter for everyone to see and then move on to the next letter. You can do this as a competition or together as a family for the younger beginning readers. The first one to get to the letter “Z” is the winner!
Alphabet Game II: In this version, one person picks a theme such as foods, animals, places, girl names, boy names, bands, songs…. Starting with the letter “A,” everyone picks an item that corresponds to that letter. Then move to “B” and so forth. When a person can’t think of an item, they’re out. Last person in, wins.
Rock-Paper-Scissors: In this game,each play says “Rock, Paper, Scissors” while lightly slapping a fist into their open hand once for each word. When saying “scissors,” each player changes his fist into one of three gestures: a rock by keeping the fist, scissors by holding out their first two fingers, or paper by keeping their hand flat. Rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock. You can use variations of this game by making up other gestures such as Dragon (putting your hands like claws near your ears), Knight (pretending to swing a sword), or Damsel (laying your head on your hands while batting your eyes). In this version, dragon beats damsel, knight beats dragon, and damsel beats knight.
Duct Tape Art: Buy a roll of duct tape and let each person make something with it. Today, you can find duct tape in all kinds of colors–orange, blue, the traditional grey and black. Our kids and their cousins have made wallets, bracelets, gloves, and sandals. Go figure…duct tape really can fix everything.
I’m sure you have your own ideas. Please share them in the comment section or on Facebook so we can all benefit…and, have a great vacation even while your travel.

5 Summer Picnic Ideas

I enjoy eating…well really, I love to eat. In the summer I love a picnic, combining my love of food with the outdoors. When I grew up, my family would often enjoy the “vacation picnic.” We would pack a picnic before vacation and, half way to our destination, stop for a picnic. Sometimes the sky was sunny…sometimes it rained. Either way, we stopped at a rest area, figured out which sandwich had ham on it and which had turkey, which had mayonnaise and which had ketchup or mustard. After matching the right sandwich with the right person, we enjoyed a meal together with good conversation and fun. It was always an interesting experience. There are other kinds of picnics that you can enjoy this summer. Here are just a few.
Invite another family to picnic with you. Ask a friend to bring a salad while you supply the burgers and hot dogs. Meet at the park and cook it up. If you have children, carve their names into the hot dogs before cooking them. Your children will love to show off their personalized hot dog before eating it. After you’re done eating, enjoy a game of Frisbee or catch. Or have the picnic by a lake and go for a swim.
Enjoy a neighborhood picnic, church picnic, or family reunion picnic. I love these picnics—lots of people and lots of food. This type of picnic is generally a “potluck” event–everyone attending brings a favorite dish to share. Someone cooks the burgers and hotdogs on sight and everyone enjoys sampling all the dishes that people have brought to share.
If you’d like an “out-of-the-box” creative type picnic, try a “progressive picnic.” A progressive picnic involves several families. Everyone goes to one family’s home for an appetizer. Then they all go a second family’s house for salad, a third for a main dish, perhaps a fourth and fifth home for a vegetable dish, and a sixth family’s home for dessert. You can involve as many families as you like, expanding on any part of the meal that you like. If the families live close enough, you can walk from house to house burning off a few calories before enjoying another dish.
Another creative picnic can involve foods from various cultures. For instance, start the meal with an appetizer like hummus or bean dip. For the salad enjoy a Mexican or Asian salad. For a main dish, cook up some fish, chicken curry, vegetable burritos, or pasta salad. This picnic becomes a family culinary adventure and a great chance to try some new things with your family and friends.
Whatever picnic you choose, enjoy the time it allows you to spend with your family.

20 Ideas for Family Summer Fun

Summer is a great time for family fun. If your family is like mine, you’re trying to think of fun summer activities you can do as a family.  Here are some ideas if you get stuck. Add some of your ideas in the comment section or on Facebook for all of us to share.
     1.      Go to the wave pool, regular pool, or local waterpark.
     2.      Have a camping adventure–either at a campground or in your own back yard.
     3.      Go for a bike ride on the local rails-to-trails.
     4.      Have a picnic.
     5.      Have a cookout—carve each family member’s name into a hot dog or let each family member make an individualized gourmet burger by adding minced mushroom, peppers, garlic, onion, and various spices to their burger before grilling.
     6.      Play Frisbee golf, Frisbee football, or a classic game of Frisbee catch.
     7.      Break out the squirt guns, super soakers, water balloons, and buckets to have a water battle. (Dad, don’t forget the hose.)
     8.      Get sprinklers and a slip and slide for the back yard.
9.      Go for a boat ride, canoe ride, or inner tube ride in a lake, creek, or river.
10. Invite a couple of families over to play some badminton.
11. Enjoy a concert in a local park. (If you live near PGH you can enjoy free jazz concerts at Katz Plaza in downtown PGH every Tuesday at 5 pm.)
12. Take the family to a professional baseball game.
13. Catch fireflies
14. Take a (family) hike—I mean that in the nicest way possible.
15. Take a family walk after dinner and talk to the neighbors.
16. Find a local farm where you can pick your own berries. Take your family and bring home a basket of berries.
17. Go to a drive-in movie.
18. Take a ride into the country one night and look at the stars.
19. Lay out in the sun, get a tan while reading a book (try one of the books in our Favorite Picks to help strengthen your family at the same time).
20. Yard work–my wife wanted this one but my kids don’t like the idea so we’ll think of one more for a bonus.
21. Go to the zoo to see the animals.
Share your ideas in the comment section or on Facebook so we can all benefit from one another’s ideas.
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