Surviving the Summer

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by Ruth (reprinted with permission)

The final bell rings and excited children everywhere flee the school in happiness...this marks the start of the Summer Vacation. As children dream of this day quickly approaching, parents and caregivers look for help to keep the kids busy and to avoid hearing those dreaded words... "I'm Bored!"

Hopefully I can bring some ideas and insights to make this the 'funnest' summer yet. In the past I have planned and implemented a school-age program. I have also had school-aged children join my home childcare program with great success. I found the key was to have the older children help with the younger children whenever possible. They were given the opportunity to plan and implement a craft for the younger children once a week. They had full access to my circle time library and were able to choose books that they were comfortable reading to the others during story time.

I avoided naptime problems by alloting the first hour a quiet time - I had fun homework sheets, novels to read, quiet games to play. The 2nd hour was their time - every day was a different activity. One day was for web design - they were given the opportunity to plan and design a web page and I assisted with searching for the right graphics, page layout, and teaching them the needed HTML to create their page. They took turns designing on paper and typing their page at the computer. One day was for Nintendo/Computer Games. Another was Craft Day - I would have a craft box organized with different items each week - they could create their own and sometimes we worked on a special 'older kid' project. One day was movie day - I would provide popcorn and drinks and they chose a movie from a selected few. The fifth day was Games Day - I would set up stations of games they could play - changing the games each week.

Cool Crafts

  • Tye Dying - This is always a hit. I set up buckets of dye outdoors and provide rubber gloves. You can provide the t-shirts or have the kids bring their own white or light coloured shirt - it does not have to be new! Follow the directions on the package for mixing the dye. To do the swirled tye dye effect, place the shirt on the table and place a fork in the center and twist until the shirt is one big circle. Use rubber bands to hold the shirt in place. Have the children dip the shirt in the various colours of dye. Unwrap and hang to dry. (We just let ours dry on the fence... but it's chain link, not sure if I would do this to a wooden fence!)
  • Transfer T's - Purchase Avery Transfer Paper and have the children design a shirt on paper. Scan the picture and then print on the paper following printing instructions. Follow the directions with the transfer paper for putting the picture onto the t-shirt and washing.
  • Baseball Hats - Use stencils or have the children design their own stencils on paper and use to fabric paint to caps.
  • Pennants - Buy plain pennants from the Craft store and let the children design them for their rooms.
  • Door Knob Hangers - You can buy precut foam hangers or use bristle board and let the children decorate and add a saying for their bedrooms.

Fun Days

In the summer, Friday was deemed our "special day". This helped the kids look forward to the end of the week and they were also kept busy during the week planning and getting things ready for the big day. Some days we have had in the past were:

    • Circus Day - The children made masks and costumes and we put on a 3 ring circus. The older children wrote and performed a clown act for the younger ones (it was a HOOT!) You can also set up games. Children receive tickets for each game they win.
      • Lucky Duck: Fill a small pool with water and fill with bath tub yellow ducks. The children can choose a duck from the pond - one (or more) of the ducks has the word WINNER on the bottom. Children can keep playing until they win.
      • Ball Toss: Have bucket set up and tennis balls - the children have 3 balls to get one into the bucket.
      • Guess the Jelly Bean Jar: Fill a jar with jelly beans and the children can enter guesses as to how many jelly beans are in the baby food jar.
      • Pin the Nose on the Clown Game
      • Tight-rope Walking: Set up a balance beam or rope (for the younger ones) and have the children walk from one end to the other without falling off.
Tickets can be traded in for treats and prizes...veggie sticks, hot dogs from the hot dog stand, french fries in little containers, drinks, snowcones - crushed ice with juice, popcorn, face painting, balloons, prize bag (I had bags set up with each child's name to avoid someone getting a prize that wasn't age appropriate). 

To avoid the tickets being used on treats only, have a designated meal time and collect tickets from each child which is used for their lunch. They can then use their remaining tickets to buy balloons, have their face painted, enjoy a treat and buy 1 prize bag. 

    Pajama Day - Children arrive in their pj's with a pillow and/or snuggly. Set up a hair salon, beauty salon, and pillows on the floor with magazines/books. Personalize pillow cases by tie dying, using transfers, or fabric paint. Have pancakes and sausages for lunch. Watch a movie.

    Water Day -
    Water Play Areas:

        • Pool and Sprinkler
        • Water sprayers
        • Paint with water
        • Washing babies in the tub - soap, water, washcloths, bath toys
    Crafts and experiments:
        • Create boats from recycled materials
        • Add blocks to the boats to see which will stay afloat the longest
        • Use fans to have sailboat races
        • How many cups of water will it take to sink the boat
        • Set up foot/hand painting
    Water Games:
      • Water balloon toss
      • Hose limbo
      • Wet sponge toss
      • Fill the bucket - Children are given an empty bucket and a full one. Place the buckets at opposite sides of the yard. They must transfer the water using a ladle. You can either time the children as a group and better that time on the 2nd round or have teams playing.
      • Bubble fun