School is out in Arizona and the kids are home.
After the excitement of being home from school wears off, kids may find themselves to be bored and falling into routines of binge watching television and playing too many video games. To help keep your kids brains stimulated this summer and to avoid the summertime boredom blues we have come up with a list of some fun activities for them.
Activities to try at Home:
Things you can do without leaving the house.
- Plant a “see-through garden.”
Many elementary school classes teach children about seed germination by dropping a wet paper towel and a presoaked bean in a plastic bag to watch the seed open, but with a see-through garden, you can take it a step further. With a see-through garden you can watch the development of the seed into a plant with a root system.
You will need potting soil, seeds (carrots and radishes are popular choices), a clear and empty plastic container with plenty of depth for the seed you are planting (a 2-liter soda bottle works well for carrots), and water.
The first thing you will want to do is cut the tops off of the container so that there is a level opening. You could wrap the edges with some duct tape to protect against sharp edges. Then poke some holes in the bottom to help with drainage. Next, fill the container with soil and water well. Plant your seed to the depth required on the seed package as close to the edge of your container as possible so you can view it as it grows. Water it well again and then place in a sunny spot. Water as recommended and watch every day for signs of life both below and above ground.
- Have a game night.
You could play your traditional family games like Sorry or Monopoly, or you could download Farm to Cart. Farm to Cart is an easy to play, fun to win, and FREE downloadable board game from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture.
Farm to Cart was created to help introduce children to the idea that their food started on a farm. Sometimes kids wonder “where does the grocery store get the food?” Before these items ever get to the grocery store they are grown and raised by a caring farmer. By playing and having a discussion with learners, everyone involved will better understand of how farmers use land in different ways to grow crops.
Playing is easy. Cut out the pieces, grab a die and get ready to shop! Players will race to be the first one to harvest items from the farm and place them in their grocery carts. To win, a player must have three items that grow on trees, three animal products from the land and three items from the soil.
This game is 100% free to download, print, and share.
Quote about the game:
“I connected the concept to real life events she would understand (like going apple picking she picked apples off the trees and we will go strawberry picking and those come out of the ground). She loved filling her shopping cart! We don’t have dice so I cut the dice instructions into strips and mixed them up each turn to let her pick. She LOVED that! She wanted to take the pieces with her everywhere! She recognized the animals and fruit and veggie token pieces and could easily place the .Overall it was a fun game we will play it again!”
~ Katie, MD mom of a 3 year old
- Get crafty.
Pinterest is an excellent source for crafts you can do at home over the summer. These are a couple of fun ones.
Hollow out 3 oranges by cutting off the top and scoop out as much of the pulp as possible. Put holes in the two sides to run twine through to hang. Fill with bird seed. Hand and watch the birds enjoy.
Spread peanut butter over a toilet paper roll and then roll in bird seed until covered. Hang on a tree branch and watch the birds enjoy.
If you have a lot of crayon pieces in your kids pencil box you can use those, or buy a box of crayons and remove the papers and break them into pieces. Place in a non-stick muffin/cupcake sheet and bake at 230 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool and remove, then you have a fun multi-colored crayon to color with. The sheets come in shapes sometimes too, like hearts or clovers and that can be fun. The only downside to this craft is that it will make your house stink a little, and you won’t want to use the sheet for anything other than crayons.
Activities outside of the Home:
Kids can get a little stir crazy over the summer. These activities will get them out of the house and can be fun for the entire family.
- Visit the Phoenix Zoo.
The Phoenix Zoo has a lot of fun and educational programs and activities that kids and families can partake in over the summer and throughout the year. These educational programs are designed to connect children of all ages with the natural world. Programs are offered for children starting at 18 months old and are designed to support their growing needs and abilities. Many programs offer opportunities for parents or caregivers and children to learn and explore together, making it an experience for the entire family.
They have a Farm Tots program, Lunch with a Keeper, and many others. Their ZooTeens program is for ages 14-17 and is a great opportunity for teens to get started early in volunteering and learning about science, conservation, animals and much more. The program also helps develop a keen sense of responsibility, self-confidence, public speaking abilities and career skills. In addition to gaining valuable professional skills, ZooTeens receive the same Phoenix Zoo benefits as the adult volunteers.
Camp Zoo is offered over both winter and summer break and is an incredible learning experience for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. There are 8 sessions running from June 1st through July 24th.
Every Wednesday at 10 a.m. in June and July there will be a story time in the Zoo’s Desert Marketplace gift shop. Explore a new children’s book each week and journey into the animal kingdom on a safari like no other, making discoveries along the way.
- Go to your local public library.
Most public libraries offer activities throughout the summer. Some educational and some just for fun. Enjoy activities like story circles, puppet shows, magic shows, movie nights, book clubs, computer classes and so much more. Get onto the webpage of the library closest to you and check out their events pages. Almost all of the public libraries have summer reading programs for kids as well where they can earn prizes for books read. Look into your local Parks and Rec office as well. They will often host events for children, teens, and adults throughout the summer.
- Visit the National Parks.
If you plan on visiting any of the National Parks this summer, either in or out of Arizona you should look into their Junior Rangers program. The NPS Junior Ranger program is an activity based program conducted in almost all parks, and some Junior Ranger programs are national. Many national parks offer young visitors the opportunity to join the National Park Service “family” as Junior Rangers. Interested youth complete a series of activities during a park visit, share their answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger patch and Junior Ranger certificate. Junior Rangers are typically between the ages of 5 to 13, although people of all ages can participate.
Of course there are always the water parks and public swimming pools for the kids and family to enjoy too! We hope this list helps you to avoid a summertime rut and have some fun!
- How to Help Kids Eat Healthy This Summer (fillyourplate.org)
- Tips for Planning a Fabulous Family Vacation on a Budget (fillyourplate.org)
- What Your Kids Can Learn This Summer… From Cooking (fillyourplate.org)