Your Kids Are Ready for Summer, But Are You?

Summer hits differently when you become a parent, doesn’t it? Instead of being excited like our kids that school is no longer on the agenda and every day has become a weekend, we now have to add to the mental load of making sure the little humans with limitless energy have enough activities and extracurriculars to keep them busy for the next three months. It sounds impossible but with a little creative thinking and strategic planning, you can make this summer one to remember even if you’re not planning to go anywhere! Here are 7 ideas to fill out a week of summer fun:

A stack of Grapat wooden loose parts in various colors and shapes

photo credit: @elle.dente

Make it a personal challenge to limit the screen time from the very beginning. If your kid wouldn’t normally be watching episodes of Bluey at 11am because they’re at school, try not to give in just because they’re groaning that they’re bored! Instead, invest in a wooden toy set like the ones by Joguines Grapat, a Spain-based brand that has created a world of open play without instructions. These colorful sets foster open-ended play, so there’s no correct way to play with them. These yellow honeycombs can be corn or beehives. The fire cones can be strawberries or volcanos. These cheeky Brots can be schoolmates or bowling pins. There’s endless fun to be had and we’re willing to bet these sets will bring out your imagination too.

Like Grapat, Holtztiger also promotes independent, open-ended play with its collection of wooden animals. If you have a Magna-Tiles set, assign your child the job of a zookeeper in charge of building homes to keep the animals in check – they’ll relish in their new role. For some quieter play, Oliver Jeffer’s Here We Are: Book of Animals pairs well to balance play with reading.

Give your kids a fresh perspective just being in their backyard or at the park with these Huckleberry binoculars by Kikkerland. Engage their visual senses by asking questions: What do they see? Where do they think the bird is going? Can they see the top of the tree? It’s the perfect thing to take on hikes or even just a walk around the block. For the audubon-in-the-making who notices every bird in the sky, the binoculars come with a bird-watching guide to take learning a step further. Bonus: add a compass and let them lead the way after a quick lesson on how to read a compass!

If you’re looking for an artful book to add to your library, Maria Gianferrari’s Be A Tree! is an excellent pick. The illustrations are beautifully done and teaches your little reader that trees come in all sizes and shapes. After you finish the book, take a page from @alandalicia’s playbook and try your hand at scrape art. All you need is some acrylic paint, a scraper (an old credit card works in a pinch), and some paint brushes.
Photo credit: @alandalicia
Before you drive off to your camping adventure, prep your child for the change in scenery with a Forest Explorer Tot Box. Temporary nature tattoos, tools like a pocket knife and a magnifier, and a nature-centric book will prepare them for what’s to come, which always helps in mitigating tantrums from being off the regular schedule.

If your kiddo loves to pick dandelions during your walks, a botanical press could extend their love of flowers. This wooden flower press comes equipped with paper sheets to get you started. Simply twist the metal screws at each corner to tightly press the pages together – a neat alternative to using stacks of tumbling books. For more flower-focused activities, check out Storytime Book Club who sends seasonal booklists paired with appropriate arts and crafts.

Spring and summer are perfect times to learn more about nature because everything is growing, the garden is lush, and the days are longer for outdoor play. Play the Forest School Way is filled with games, crafts, and other outdoor adventures to foster your child’s curiosity about the world around them. For eagle-eyed tweens who surprise you with their knowledge of animals, Curious Kids Nature Guide is filled with fun facts and 100 full-color, beautiful, and scientifically accurate illustrations that show the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. If exploring the wild seems more fun with others, Free Forest School is a great resource for connecting with other outdoor-loving parents.