Summer is here! Parents might be wondering how to meaningfully engage their children these holidays. Well, Children make memories during their summer holidays. They will look back on the different activities they did during a year, nostalgic trips they went on, and other fun things they learned. So, make sure you spend a memorable and meaningful summer this year. While some of the mentioned activities in this post may not be the most fun, I’m sure they will be a meaningful engagement for your children.
1. Cleaning the room
When the school closes every year, the first activity my daughter and I perform together is – cleaning the cupboards and her room. It gives an opportunity for the child to help out and also to organize their rooms better. Sometimes the children find lost treasures (my daughter discovers the forgotten seeds, marbles, feathers, or sometimes even stones). It’s a wonderful way to spend time meaningfully sorting out stuff you need (or the stuff that you don’t need)
2. Organise a Treasure hunt
Who does not like to look for treasure?
Well, there are different types of treasure hunts that you can organize for your children. You can increase the complexity of the Treasure hunt based on the age of your children. An ideal treasure hunt should be a good workout for their brain. You can organize the treasure hunt indoors, outdoors or it can be a mixture of both.
I usually organize a treasure hunt during the first week of the Summer holidays, after my daughter has finished cleaning her cupboard (after passing on some of her stuff / cleaning out the unwanted stuff). I would buy books or card games to play for summer and hide it. This has been our small summer tradition for almost 5 years now. This is an activity she always looks forward to.
3. Play Sun and shadow game
For children with a lot of energy, this is a fun game to play. For this game, you need 2 people. One is the Sun and one is the Shadow. The person who is the sun leads the game by performing actions like hopping, clapping, squatting, jumping, scratching, etc… the person who is the shadow, stands facing the Sun and follows the actions of the Sun simultaneously. Sun needs to be quick in the execution of his actions and the shadow as quick as the sun as well. After a while, we change the roles.
4. Enjoy Reading your favourite books
Books are the greatest treasures. They meaningfully engage the children and the adults as well. Fix a regular time every day for Reading, parents, and children can enjoy reading together during this fixed time. The children can also make their own reading nooks/corners, and read from their cozy corners. This way, the parent gets to read her book at peace. You could also join the local library or summer reading clubs in your area. Try wordless books for new or struggling readers, get some comics or magazines for young kids.
5. Host a Dance Party
Host a musical game and a dance party along with yummy food and colorful decorations this summer. Invite friends or family members and have a wonderful time.
6. Learn to sing a song – Karaoke Party
Who does not want to pretend to be a Rockstar? So, this summer, invite your child’s friends over for a Karaoke party. For a quieter and bonding time with the child, the parent can play her /his favorite songs and the child can get to listen to the songs and learn the lyrics as well. The child can in turn play his/her favorite songs for the parents to listen to.
7. Cooking together
Try out new recipes this summer or teach the young ones the family recipes. Set up a special corner and have a date night with the yummy food prepared by your child.
8. Popcorn and movies
What is a better combination than Popcorn and movies? Fix a movie night and play your Favorite Childhood movies. It will be a wonderful window for the kids to know about your likes/dislikes.
9. Board Games
Good old-fashioned board games and card games keep the children busy most of the days. It’s a saviour in summer! While the parents are busy at work, the kids can enjoy playing card games / board games with friends or neighbours. Introduce the children to at least one new board game each summer and enjoy the time together.
10. Fix Puzzles
Puzzles keep children mentally active. Some children are more into puzzles than other kids and it is totally alright. Some children are engrossed and are able to sit at a stretch and finish the puzzle at one stretch while others, can do only a little bit of a large puzzle each day. This is fine too.
1. Story stones
Story Stones or Storytelling stones are little pebbles that have a picture painted on them. These pretty stones are used while narrating a story. These painted stones are usually placed in order according to the flow of the story. The parent can use these Story stones as a prop while narrating a story. The Child can help the parent paint the stones either before or after the story narration.
Even after story narration, these stones can be used by the children to create their own stories. Thus, the story stones are an open-ended artistic tool for creative learning and articulation.
2. DIY Lanterns
This lantern can be a DIY project which the parent and the child can try on weekends. These lanterns can be used while having Moonlight Dinners (outdoors) or can replace candle light dinners as well. This is a fun project and the kids will just love to mess with the paints and water.
3. Painting Peg Dolls
Peg Dolls are small dolls made from wood. These painted Wooden peg dolls can be used during storytelling, Open -ended play, for teaching counting, return gifts or it can be used for decorative purposes as well. This is a fun project for both Kids and parents alike. The parent can source the unfinished dolls from websites like Amazon.
If you are painting the peg dolls for the first time, or the children are painting, then it is best for you to use a pencil and lightly sketch on it before they begin. Always start with the skin tone first and follow it up with the hands and the clothing and finally add the hair and other details. Once all the painting is done, apply varnish and dry it thoroughly before using the dolls. For detailed instructions, visit my Crafts/ DIY page.
4. Making Thank you cards
Children can learn to make themselves happier or nurture their relationships with other people by learning to write Thank You notes / Cards. Guide the children to make beautiful Thank you notes/ cards to the neighbors, best friends, family members, milkman, or the gardener. Once in a while, the children can write Thank you cards addressed to themselves as well. Writing gratitude notes is a great way of meaningfully engaging the children.
5. Create your own superhero
For children who are older, the parent can have a discussion about various super heroes that they know with their children. The Parent can ask the child to create his/ her super hero character. The children can be given a week’s time to work on the project. They can have a name for the character, the appearance, the clothing and the super powers as well. The children can also paint a picture of their imaginary character, if possible.
6. Paper dye crafts
Kids just love mixing paints and this is one of the main reasons why the kids are sure to love the tie and dye crafts. All you need is some felt tip markers, coffee filters (paper towels don’t work) and a small spray bottle
Cut the coffee filters into circle or squares or any shape and ask the children to draw with their markers on it. Let it dry for a few minutes and ask the children to spray a little water on the paper that they painted on. Now leave the sheets to dry and watch as the colours spread out and merge, blend and change. Cut the papers into bookmarks or feed the dye sheets through the palm punch and use the little shapes on greeting cards.
7. Make your own God’s eye
This is a super easy and a super quick project. All you need are some sticks (popsicle sticks), yarn, and some glue.
8. Make a gratitude jar / Journal
Gratitude means thankfulness or gratefulness. It is a way for people to appreciate what they have in life instead of reaching out for something new all the time. It is absolutely essential for children to learn about gratitude right from a young age. Why not introduce your children to gratitude this summer?
Take any old Mason jar or any other box and ask your child to decorate it. This will be their gratitude Jar/box. You can encourage or guide your children to write a small note on all the things that they are grateful for. The children can write a small note each day and place it inside their Gratitude jar / Box. Alternatively, older children can maintain a gratitude journal and write about the thoughts/gifts they have received every day.
Learning new skills / finding new hobbies
1. Learn Shadow puppetry with hands
Shadow puppetry is an ancient form of storytelling and entertainment. This summer, why not introduce your children to it? learn the different ways the hands can form the shadows on the walls. The children can write a story and have a grand screening at the end of the summer holidays.
Gardening is the perfect summer hobby! You are outside, with nature and focusing on making your backyard beautiful and while you are at it, you can involve the children as well. In order to involve children, you could read from a gardening book, take a trip to the local nursery or farm, get them their own gardening tools, assign the watering work to the child and finally get them involved in every step of the process.
3. Learning Kollam / Rangoli
With regular practice, everyone can master Kollam / Rangoli. This is not only a fun artistic activity but an activity that boosts the brain. The parent can teach the child the art of drawing Kollam in the notebook and then slowly let the children practice on the balcony or terrace. Finally, when the children are ready, they can decorate their homes with beautiful Kolams.
4. Learn to Crochet or Knit
Learning a new skill is always exciting. Why not introduce your child this year to the beautiful art of crocheting? Buy some colorful yarns and crochet away!
5. Stamp collection
Stamp Collection is related to Philately – which is the study of stamps. Why not introduce your children to this wonderful world of stamps? Share with them your Stamp collection. This will also give an opportunity to talk about different countries, their leaders, and their unique qualities.
6. Coin collection
Coin collections, just like Stamp collection is a wonderful Hobby. You can initiate your kids into this wonderful hobby this summer. Introduce them to the different countries & their currencies.
7. Make a Family Movie
There is no better way to preserve memories better than to make a movie. Collect all the funny moments, personal anecdotes, or just memories of all the family members, especially the elders. The elders may have some fascinating facts or stories to share with their grandchildren. This way the children are exposed to family traditions and heritage. The children could also make a questionnaire and interview the family members and the parents can help with the editing part.
8. Learn how to take good pictures using your phone
If you can spare some old unused phones, you can hand them over to the children and give them some assignments like – Find 3 things in green color and click the picture or Find the numbers 1 to 9 in nature and click a picture. The children are engaged this way and they slowly learn to click pictures using a phone. In the evening, you can review their work.
Fun with Nature
1. DIY bird feeders
Bird feeders not only attract rare birds but also give an opportunity for the family to sit together and observe the birds from their backyards. There are many different ways to do a simple bird feeder. This will be a fun project to undertake for the children.
2. Watch the night sky
Watching the night sky is a wonderful way to be with your family. Schedule a time and watch the night sky together as a family. For young kids, the parents can narrate a nice soothing story about the stars and moon while watching the sky. For older kids, the parents can talk about planets and the different constellations of stars. The children can try and identify the different star constellations as well. It would be a wonderful experience to have a moonlight dinner after the skywatch.
3. Go birdwatching on weekends
Children are naturally connected with Nature. Why not use your spare time this summer to connect with the little winged wonders? Watching birds help the children to calm down as they need to be quiet and not startle the birds. It also helps in building patience along with the added bonus of learning about the habitat, sounds that they make, and the names of birds as well. Alternatively, the children can also place a birdbath/bird feeder in their backyard / open space to attract birds and watch them from the comfort of their homes. This is a wonderful hobby that children can develop from a young age.
4. Take a thrilling night walk in your neighbourhood
A walk under the sky is a great way to wind down your day. Children are naturally excited about getting outdoors at night and why not make that experience an informative one as well. The kids can engage their senses by listening to the “night sounds” (owls hooting, a chorus of frogs, etc…) around them. They can also carry torches but can choose not to use them and get their eyes used to the darkness around them.
If the children are young, then introduce the Moon to them (before you go for the walk) through some beautiful MOON STORIES. For older children, encourage your children to spend some time every day looking at the night sky and observing the phases of the moon. They can also maintain a journal and write about how they feel inwards (inside weather) on a particular phase of the moon.
5. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of Nature
As human beings, we are all connected to Nature. Nature soothes and calms not only children but adults as well. Once in a while go walking in the woods or visit a park nearby and just close your eyes for a few minutes to absorb all the sounds. This will be a refreshing experience for you and your child.
I hope you enjoyed reading my curated list of ‘ ways to engage children meaningfully. Do share with me your plans for the summer.
All the best Engaging the children meaningfully!