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Summer’s Coming–Kids, too.

Summer for some of us means more time with our grandchildren.  This is a far more exciting time for us that for their mothers.  We plan “activities.”  Once in a while, these activities turn out to be more fun for us “artsy-craftsy” types, resulting in [horror!]  a new hobby.

I have been scouring the net looking for things to do with Zachary (10) and Evan (6.5) that do not call for TV, computers, or hours on a hot ballfield.  My standards are very exacting, so I have had to create a few of my own and I thought I’d share them with you.

The teacher who still lives in my head wants these to be learning experiences, but she is wise enough to know that part has to be sneaked in to avoid the “Oh, Nana, school is out!” effect.  I also want them to know how to make things.  It’s good for their souls and it raises their self-esteem.

Just in case you need them, here are my sneaky ideas.

1.  Take a city bus somewhere.  Plan it on the bus schedule map.  Get together the proper change for the fare.  Public transportation relies on the public use for success.  This activity usually requires waiting and walking–good skills to practice and a chance for good talk.

2.  Visit a busy area of town and take a digital pictures.  Use the pictures to create a story book or a collage.  I would just print them on regular paper and cut and paste.  Use some on foam board and prop the collage against a wall for display.  (Small motor skills and conversati0n.)

3.  Take the camera to the Yarn Shop :).  While you shop, he/she/they can take pictures of every possible color they can find.  (Award a prize for 25 different shades.)  Later–print, cut, paste into a color wheel.  (I know this is terribly sneaky, but that, too, is a lesson.)

4.  Build fairy houses* in your backyard.  Use sticks, stones, rocks, old flower pots–clean out the storage areas.  If you are clutter free (sigh), pick up some $1.00 birdhouses at Michaels to use.  Use fabric scraps for banners or curtains or flags.  Be sure to take pictures–or draw pictures.   *Will also work as space outpost, dinosaur lands, theme parks for squirrels.

5.  Cut fabric into 3 inch squares and sew together by hand.  (Teach them to baste.)  Iron flat.  Use fabric markers or Sharpies to decorate with favorite words.  (spelling, vocabulary)  Hang it somewhere.

6.  Use ugly yarn (I know you have some somewhere) and string it all over your yard–around trees, porch posts, furniture, shovels stuck in the ground–and make gigantic spider webs.  Pull it tight so it will be strong.  Attach stuff to it with clothespins or paperclips, e.g., pictures of bugs, fabric scrap flags, mobiles made of straws (an excuse to eat at McDonalds), paint chips from the paint store.  Watch what the weather does to it.  When it gets gross, just cut it down.     Reuse this at Halloween.  Bernat makes a glow in the dark yarn.

7.  Buy some chicken wire–cheap at Home Depot.  Tack or staple it to yor fence or between trees.  Weave  <g> stuff into it.  Fabric strips, rag pieces, ribbon, plastic bags, vines–if it bends even a little, it will weave.  It’s a work of art, so name it.

8.  Twisted cord.  The directions are long, but worth it.

Get some more yarn from the stash.  Stand at least 10 feet from a tree and hold one end while your child runs from you to the tree, around the tree, and back again—many times.  (You stand still while he/she runs!  I’m a genius!)  Then you cut the yarn you are holding in half and send the child to the tree to hold the yarn where it goes around the tree.

Unwrap the yarn from the tree and have your child slip a sturdy stick into the fold.  Knot your ends of the yarn.  Time to twist the yarn.

You hold the knot and continue to stand still.  Singing is allowed here.  The child, the one who did all the running, does all the twisting.  Twist until it gets really hard to twist.  Grab the halfway point and holding everything taut, allow the child to give you the stick and take that halfway point.  He/she lets go of the yarn and it will twist around itself making a sturdy cord.  (Magic and laughter here.)

—Yeah, I know it is a lot of work just for a cord, but if you used  colorful yarn, it might be pretty—AND–you aren’t the one who is tired.

Next visit you can hang something with it or turn it into a bag strap.

Sometimes naps follow this.

9.  Holidays in July.  Start your gift giving lists now.  Use a roll of paper–the back of old gift wrap is a great choice.  List the names of everyone you might ever give a gift to.  Scour catalogs and magazines to find pictures of gifts they would like and glue those beside the names.  Be sure to include your own names.

If you run out of room for the pictures, punch holes beside the names and tie on extra sheets of paper.  (Problem solving)  Can’t find the right picture.  Draw it.  Or write the words.  No wrong actions with this project.  Send it home to store in a special closet.

10.  Teach them to knit, crochet or weave a scarf. (If you don’t do something this obvious, they will suspect the other projects weren’t just for fun.  When you don’t urge them to continue working, they will really trust you on the others.  Even the really smart ones.)  Use needles, hooks, looms, cardboard looms.  When they get bored—and they probably will–glue the incomplete piece to some posterboard and frame it.  It might be very important later on.

I can’t be the only sneaky one in this group.  Please send me any of your ideas or great links you have discovered.  It is going to be a long, hot summer in the Carolinas.  Besides, crafts are a life-long comfort.

More later–


8 Responses

  1. You might also consider the Lynx Blue line, starting at the 485 station and going all the way uptown. (parking at the 485 end might be an issue early in the moring).
    When our nieces and nephews were younger we always dragged them up to Discovery Place.
    It’s a bit dicey in the summer because of the planting at the farm, but if you have the boys on weekends, check the launch schedule at http://www.rocketrycarolina.org. The ROCC guys love having an audience, and model rocketry combines art, crafting, math and physics. The launches are all conducted in a purely family friendly fashion.
    You said you wanted to avoid hot ballfields, but the Charlotte Knights mostly play at night and if you get tickets in sections 109 or higher, you’ll be in the shade for the last few hours of daylight. Every Saturday night they do fireworks.
    Science meets art. get some coffee filters and a bunch of different make markers,ink pens or food coloring. put a dot at the center of the filter. soak in water, or under supervision, rubbing alcohol and watch the chromatic separation.

  2. Sheer genious and I am not at all surprised. Thank you.

  3. Will Steve be taking them into the kitchen? I’m thinking of all kitchen science — making play dough, gak (like silly putty), volcanoes

  4. Excellent ideas, but don’t forget Toll House Cookies. How do you make gak?

  5. NASA has a layered volcano activity with 3 or 4 colors of playdoh, bottle cap for a volcano caldera, baking soda and vinegar. You get to ‘blow’ the volcano several times (always a highlight) and after each you use a different color of playdoh to model where the ‘lava’ flowed. After about four eruptions you have a very colorful volcano field. Then take clear plastic straws and you can take ‘core’ samples of your volcano field to see what order the lava flows occurred. This works best if each child made their own volcano and then exchange volcanoes at the end to do the coring.

  6. Love it! It’s like making abstract art.

  7. Jane, How about having them each make a handmade book at the beginning of the summer to “document” all the other activities. Photos, samples, bits of yarn, etc could all be put in their Summer 2012 book. If they’re cereal eaters, each one could use the cardboard from their current favorite cereal to be the book covers. Simple, fast, fun for you too.

  8. Perfect. This combines so many skills. And since I own a copy of your book, The Art of Fabric Books, they will have some great ideas to steal. I’m going to make one of these for myself.

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