"We're bored. What can we do?"
Each new season can begin with a few brainstorming sessions around the kitchen table. List everyone's ideas and keep them on the fridge. Try using this to plan the upcoming months, and more importantly, as a checklist of things that have been accomplished.
Here are some ideas to get kids started. Sort by putting a dollar sign beside those that will cost money (for later budget considerations).
1) Stitch a beach bag
Supplies: Scissors, hand towel, washcloth, pins, embroidery needle and thread, button or snap and one yard of nylon rope (available at hardware stores)
Directions: 1. Clip any fringed edges off the hand towel, then fold it in half. For pocket, position and pin washcloth on one side of the bag. Unfold the bag and sew on the pocket. If you like, you can attach a button or snap at the top of the pocket to keep it from hanging open. 2. Fold the bag in half again. Stitch together the sides of the bag, either by hand or on a machine. 3. Cut a length of ½ inch thick nylon rope to your desired length: longer for a shoulder bag, shorter for a handbag. 4. Using the scissors, carefully poke a hole through both sides of each top corner of the bag. Thread one end of the handle into each hole, and then knot the ends of the rope to secure. Tip: Remove your rope handle before washing.
2) Make your own Scrapbook or Memory Box of summer events.
3) Go on a bug safari
Collect millipedes, grasshoppers, spiders, or crickets, to name a few. Tip: Check pockets before washing clothes!
4) Launch giant bubbles
Materials: Wire clothes hanger, pliers, electrical cord or duct tape, cotton twine (optional) Mix up your own bubble solution with 2 cups of dish soap, 6 cups of water and ¾ cup of corn syrup. Have fun!
5) Visit a festival (Sunfest, Home County Folk Festival, CALIPSO)
6) Chalk your walk
Draw your hometown complete with roads, houses and parks. Or, trace a friend's body and draw in their hair and eyes. Or, outline a huge sea serpent or dragon and colour him in. Or, copy your favourite comic strip or invent your own.
7) Take swimming lessons at the local pool
8) Hunt for treasures
Before the hunt, note clever places where you can hide scrap paper (a mailbox, flowerpot, tire swing). Jot down clues and make a map.
9) Plant your own garden
10) Make a fort, hideout or tent inside or outside
Use clothespins, sheets and blankets and attach to trees or a clothesline.
11) Stage your own play
One of life's great thrills is a stage curtain lifting, even if the curtain is a bedspread and the stage is the garage floor. Get ideas from stories that you already know if short on ideas.
12) Go fishing
13) Finger paint
Sure, it's messy, but in summer cleaning off paint can be as simple as dashing through a sprinkler. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/3 cup of cornstarch in a saucepan, then slowly add 2 cups of cold water. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture is a clear, smooth gel. When cool, stir in ¼ cup of liquid dish soap. Scoop into plastic containers and stir in food colouring drops or tempura paints.
14) Hold an art fair
In your very own backyard or at the park. Stock up on supplies such as melted crayon paintings, candle dripping, bead making or sponge painting.
15) Visit Wally World
16) Strike up a backyard band
Materials: small trash can or bucket. Canvas material, duct tape, string, spray bottle filled with water. Length of rope, 2 wooden spoons or sticks. Music, like a good meal, is far more memorable when its enjoyed outdoors. In you backyard lay down a blanket for the stage and set chairs around for guests.
17) Visit Elora Gorge
18) Put together a parade of bikes
A bike is likely to be a child's most prized possession, so it won't take much coaxing to get your young cyclist to gussy up their wheels.
19) Host a sleepover
20) Face Painting
Use a water-based variety. It's best on sensitive skin and washes off easily with soap and water.
21) Have a pajama day
22) Start your own club
Children will learn on their own free will, especially how to cooperate and teach others. They learn to share ideas and skills. Spark you child's interest by sharing your own memories of clubs you once belonged to and then hope for the best.
23) Go to the beach
24) Liven up a T-shirt
Materials: cardboard, pre-washed white or coloured cotton T-shirt, making tape and non-toxic fabric paint.
25) Seal a friendship
To make a bracelet, gather six 24-inch strands of embroidery thread.
1. Hold the strands together with the ends matched up, then tie and overhand knot 1 inch from an end. Tape the knot to a tabletop (or anchor it in a closed drawer). Holding the free end, twist the bunch repeatedly in the same direction until it is tightly wound.
2. Pinch the twisted band in the centre and fold it in half so that the free end matches up with the knotted end. Release the centre; the band will automatically twist back on itself.
3. Slip the ends through the loop (the pinch point) at the opposite end of the band, tie a knot to secure the bracelet, knot again and trim the ends. Enjoy!
26) Pack a backyard picnic
27) Go to the library
St. Thomas Public Library
153 Curtis St. St. Thomas, ON N5P 2Z7
Elgin County Public Library
450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, ON N5R 5V1
There are 11 satellite branches in: Aylmer, Bayham, Belmont, Dutton-Dunwich, Port Burwell, Port Stanley, Rodney, Shedden, Springfield, Vienna and West Lorne.
28) Run Like the Wind
Materials: 2 large plastic cups, clear flat trash bags, dowel or stick, 2 rubber bands, masking tape, hole punch, scissors.
1. Cut the bottom off both cups, lay the bag flat and roll its sealed, bottom end around the outside of one cup, 1 inch below the cup's rim. Tape in place.
2. Feed the trash bag through the bottom of the second cup, then nest he cup firmly over the first so the rims are aligned.
3. Using the scissors, fringe the tail of the trash bag. Punch opposing holes through both of the cups just below the rims.
4. Push the dowel or stick through the two holes wrapping a rubber band around it on each side of the cup to hold it in place.
5. Run like the wind!
29) Have a backyard camp out
30) Join a day camp
A Summer Adventure Camp is available across Elgin County from the YMCA for children ages 5-12, along with a Kinder-Camp in St. Thomas for those ages 3-5. The camps offer games, crafts and weekly trips. For more information contact the YMCA of St. Thomas at (519) 631-9800. Parents who are unable to cover the cost of camp can contact Kamping 4 Kidz through the Elgin Children's Foundation at (519) 631-1492.
Have fun and don't forget your sunscreen!