On September 9th, my kids will be back in school. While part of me is looking forward to returning to normalcy, the other part of me is looking back on the summer wondering where it went. What happened to all that bonding time I was planning on getting in with my kids? Once the craziness of camps and baseball ended, I had plenty of time to hijack those kiddos and engage them in all sorts of mother-son activities. But now here we are with only a few short weeks left—and I’m scrambling.
It’s now or never. Time to squeeze in some good, quality time with my children before the insanity of the school year begins. But oh what to do with 8- and 10-year old boys?
Fortunately, I have some ideas and I’ve done my research:
Backyard Stargazing: I’m always looking for ways to nurture the the little astronomer in my children. My 10- year old has taken a particular interest in natural sciences and space exploration, so this one is right up his alley, as it is mine.
How it works: On a clear night, grab some bug spray, a handful of snacks and a big blanket. Find a flat spot in the yard with a clear view of the night sky. Lie in a row on your backs and take turns identifying each constellation and maybe some stars. If you have one, bring your tablet or smart phone out with you so you can research any additional astronomical fun facts.
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt: I’m always trying to get my kids to take leisurely walks with me, oftentimes to no avail. By turning it into a game, the bambinos will be begging me to go rather than the other way around!
How it works: Make a list of some common outdoor items that can be easily found. Give each child a copy and head outdoors—this can be done in your neighborhood, in the back yard or even at the park. Each child must find and check off the items on the list. If possible have them search in different approximate areas (while still keeping an eye on them). Some examples of items might include a dented street sign, something that is shiny, a hole in a tree, animal tracks, a Y shaped twig. The one who finds more objects in a given period of time wins.
Map the route to school: As my kids get older and grow in their independence, it becomes more important that they know their way around. This map-making activity will give them a better sense of how to navigate the local streets around town, while at the same time serving as a nice little lesson in cartography.
How it works: Pile everyone in the car and drive the streets in and around the neighborhoods between home and school. Have the kiddos jot down street names, landmarks, friends’ houses and such. When you get home, give them some art paper, markers, stickers, etc… and ask them to map out the route between home and school. As a bonus, see if they can include short cuts and alternate routes. Then head back out and follow the directions of their maps. See if they got it right!
Breakfast in the park: In the absence of camps, our August mornings have consisted of many lazy breakfasts in front of the boob tube. But with this rise-and-shine activity, we’ll force ourselves to get out the house nice and early, starting the day off on a more proactive note.
How it works: Grab a big blanket and pack a breakfast. (Either make your own or stop off on your way. And don’t forget the coffee; mama’s got to have her caffeine!) Bring a football, roller blades, bikes or anything else you think your kids might want to do while at the park. Enjoy a little picnic in the park while soaking in the warm, early-morning rays of the late-summer sun.
Colored crayon shapes: This activity will not only completely captivate my kids and get them into a coloring project, but it will also help me to clear out some of the clutter in my school supply drawer.
How it works: Gather up a bunch of broken, old crayons, peel the wrappers off and break them into small pieces. Sort the crayon pieces into different piles using any color combination that strikes your fancy. Place each pile in plastic bags and seal. Place bags of crayons in muffin tins and put into direct sunlight for 20 minutes or until wax is soft. If the sun isn’t strong enough, take a hairdryer to it (but don’t get too close or you’ll melt the plastic). Remove bags from tins and mold into desired shape, such as a ball or an oval. Remove from plastic and drop immediately into ice water. Then color!
Two weeks. I can get all that done in two weeks—no problem.