Summer, Summer, Summer Time: Fun Ideas for the Summer

Goodbye Spring, Summer is here, officially. While working with children I’ve observed a lot of
what they absolutely enjoy making and doing. A lot of their making and doing comes from their
own self-initiated and self-directed play without any grown up interruption or guidance (maybe a
little). Usually, we put out materials, see where it goes as we follow the child’s lead trusting the
process. We also go out into the community and model taking care of it and connecting the dots
to what the children are interested in exploring.

A lot of the following ideas center on process including a lot of making and doing inspired by the
years of working beside children.
Here are the top 10 ways to encourage creativity and open ended play this summer inspired by
children themselves.
Ready, set, go!

  1. Painting: outside the box ideas: collect and then paint rocks. Then hide them around
    your neighborhood for neighbors to find! *Bonus: paint outside with tempura or washable
  2. Visit a museum that interests your little one. Feel free to bring some hands-on materials
    to explore in front of a piece of work (non-messy playdough, legos, sketch pad to draw
    what they see).
  3. Make ice cream and/or popsicles for yourselves and pets!
  4. Visit an animal shelter (draw what you see).
  5. Go Spelunking in a Cave after making your own cave/fort in your house! **Spelunking is
    such a fun word for children to say.
  6. Make your own ocean as you wonder what is inside an ocean? Sprinkle in some salt!
    Where does salt-water come from anyway?
  7. Visit a library story-time. **Bring back favorite books to retell. **Make your own story
    books as children tell their story made up from their brain.
  8. Go grass sledding. Items needed: cardboard boxes/design your sleds/cars with favorite
    colors, numerals and letters/names of the racers.
  9. Search for bugs/pretend to be entomologists. Bring magnifying glasses. Bring sketch
    pads as you draw what you see and observe. Wonder and marvel at what the bugs may
    be. Pretend you don’t know what their names are. Are they bumpy? Smooth? Hairy? As
    you explore texture. How many eyes/legs are there? **Bonus: Feel free to also visit a
    bug museum ( in DC there is the Natural History Museum where you can explore
    butterflies to tarantulas!
  10. Dig holes. Find sandboxes (make one), find mud pits (make one) dig deep holes. Make
    mud pies/potions/whatever they dream up!
  11. Bonus: Play games from Hide and Seek to Patty Cake. These traditions and rituals
    create a solid foundation of connection and care. Games that are passed down
    generations. Conscious Discipline by Dr. Be
    cky Bailey explored how rituals and traditions help children’s social and emotional
    development. Feel free to check it out here:

Take a moment to notice and tap into what your children care about, nurture and encourage
their love of what they care about and the rest will handle itself. So, how will your children stay
engaged in play: the ultimate process of learning this summer and beyond?

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