How to enjoy your kids in the summer

by Edie Wadsworth on June 14, 2010

1.  Encourage their creativity.

Get out some paint or some clay or some crayons and create something.

We’re taking a few weeks off from ‘school’ but as I’m hoping to blur the lines between ‘school’ and  ’life’, we’re still busy learning.   One of my very favorite bloggers Meg introduced this wonderful art blog last week and I’ve been giddy ever since.   I find that my girls love art but we haven’t been as consistent with art lessons this year as I’d like.   We’ll use our ‘summer break’ to catch up on some wonderful techniques and projects.  So, Saturday, we learned about color wheels.
colorwheel

We watched this video and then drew and painted our own wheels.  It was simple and yet so much fun!  You should try it.
colorwheels
We also did a little body art (formerly known as face painting!)
bodyart
Not too bad, if I do say so myself.   And trust me, I’m no artist.
facepainting

2.  Get them wet!

Everything is better when water’s involved.  I’m like the 1950′s mom who gets her hair ‘set’ once a week and can never under any circumstance get it wet.  The truth is, I don’t have the kind of hair that just dries nicely and looks fine.  If the hair gets wet,  I either need a hat or a blow dryer.   So when my girls asked me,  ”Are you gonna get your hair wet this year?”   THis Year?   Is it really that bad?   So I promptly ran down to the dock with them and jumped in.   And then Steve and I swam with them to the neighbor’s double decker dock and jumped off the high dive.   The kids were ecstatic.    And I can still do a toe touch, btw.  Take that 40 year old body.

And we may have a new king of the dock!
kingofthedock

3.  Go outside at night!

I listened to a talk given by Jay Ryan, a self taught classical astronomer who has made it his mission in life to get people outside, looking at the night sky.   The talk was incredibly interesting as he lamented the fact that classical astronomy hasn’t been taught as a subject in the US for nearly  a hundred years.   His website is great and lends some help to those of us who’d like to learn more but don’t know where to start.    Steve’s ipad app called Starwalker was also a lot of fun—it uses GPS to help you locate the constellations and planets.    In June, the star Regulus, which is the bottom right star of the Leo constellation is very visible just above the western horizon.    The moon is in crescent phase and just below and to the right of Regulus.   The constellation Gemini is visible to the right of Regulus and the Big Dipper and Arcturus are nearly overhead.    We (actually mostly Steve and I) spent the better part of the afternoon trying to teach ourselves some basic terms like ecliptic and zenith and nadir and zodiac.    We’ve started a little journal to help us remember the things we’ve seen.

I never learned any of this so I’m like a kid in a candy store.    Steve, who is a boy scout at heart, is helping me and learning some too.   The girls were a tad distracted (“it’s too hot”,  ”she’s touching me”) but they also enjoyed it

4.  READ READ READ.

Although late to the game, we joined our local library’s summer reading program.   It has motivated the girls to read certain books that I don’t think they’d have read otherwise.   They also enjoy the friendly competition with each other.   (“I read ten books today.  How many did you read?”)       We also enjoy reading together as much as ever.   We’re still in the Harry Potter series and are almost finished with book 6.   I think we may re-read the Narnia books next.   We try to read aloud for a while in the mornings and then whenever we can squeeze it in.    There is something about reading to them that centers them.    They stop bickering.    They calm down.   It’s almost like magic.    So, if they’re getting restless and I’m getting frustrated, we read.  It sets the world aright!

5.  Leave them alone.

Make sure they have plenty of time to just ‘be’.    Make them turn off the tv and put down the electronics and just play.    It’s amazing what kids will find to do when there is supposedly  ’nothing to do’.  My girls put on their swim caps and made up crazy songs about swim caps this weekend—using a hairbrush and the vacuum cleaner as the microphone;  but only after I banned the tv and told them to make up their own fun.    They can get lost for hours in make-believe play—but they can only do it if there are  hours to get lost in.    They don’t need expensive trips or toys to have fun.   But they do need time to themselves.

It may seem like the summer days are long but the days are gone before you know it and so are the kids.    I don’t want to wish it away.   I want to learn to savor it—every minute of it.   To enjoy the hustle and bustle of kids underfoot.   As mothers, these are the ‘neighbors’ God had in mind when he said,  ”Love your neighbor as yourself.”    Lord, keep us from being so preoccupied and busy that we forget that the little  ’neighbors’ under our care  are the most important ones of all.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carmen June 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Love this post! Tomorrow is my kids’ last day of school. I had all summer with them last year. This year I will be working (Soon I hope! I need a job!). I want to enjoy the time while I have it. I love that pic of your husband and the girls on the dock. Too funny. And a toe touch? Go you!

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2 Jen@balancing Beauty and Bedlam June 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Oh friend – all of these…so wise, so fun and the means to a truly wonderful hubby. I LOVE the one of them pushing your honey in…GREAT SHOT! :)

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3 Southern Gal June 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Great post. I’ll be saving the links to use this summer. Thanks.

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4 Audra Wright June 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thank you very much for such a wonderful post today. I am saving it so that I can come back to it as needed. We are 3 weeks into our summer vacation and I honestly don’t know where those 21 days have gone-& I hate that!

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5 Susan June 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

To add to your “read aloud” time, you should try audio books in the car. My kids (5, 8 and 10 yrs) love them. Several benefits: we all enjoy the story, they hear truly wonderful read aloud skills, and they are quiet in the car!

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6 Mrs. Dunbar June 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Love these great ideas. Things that kids could (or would) do 50 years ago are still the best summer ideas.

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7 Candice June 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Edie,

you are so right about adults being so preoccupied with everything under the sun except our “little neighbors” ~ I’m a prime offender. thanks for reminding me of what I already suspected…

Candice

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8 Amy Lockhart June 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Ohh how we are longing for summer, your summer pictures make me drool. It has yet to stop raining here yet, still no summer in sight for us, and we have more on the way. At this point we are all wondering if we will get summer or not. So sad, the kids are ready to swim, hopefully soon! Everyday you inspire me, thank you for all your inspiration, recipies, & wisdom, you are great!

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9 Rhonda June 14, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I feel like giving a big military-style “Hooah” for your closing. As if I’m prepped for the mission, and ready to go. Thanks for that!

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10 Tricia June 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Thank you for this post. Gearing up for summer here. The kids are officially out for the summer next Wednesday. I NEED TO PREPARE! ;)

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11 Elizabeth June 14, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Enjoyed this post! We only have one tv in the house and it’s not on much. The kids (we have four) play bank, dress up, office, school, it’s fun to watch them be creative. Thank you for the tips!! :)

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12 patty June 14, 2010 at 4:46 pm

sweet post, edie! :)

{but you forgot roasted marshmallows. one MUST consume {wolf down} roasted marshmallows in order to enjoy children in the summertime. just sayin’}

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13 Patty June 14, 2010 at 6:11 pm

So glad you are adding art to all the wonderful things you do with your kids (love the dock!) Love your blog…I’m still in love with your turquoise kitchen.

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14 Jessica Washburn June 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I love it when mom’s get involved w/ the kids in the summer rather than just ‘drop them off at the local pool’. :) I really have no choice…my boys are all about learning and couldn’t imagine taking a break in the summer. Jax is begging me to buy a membership to brainpop.com and I am nearly convinced. We have been doing read aloud The Blue Fairy Book and are loving all the fabulous classics. We are doing a lot of swimming and are taking weekly field trips (boating, aquarium, circus, library, museums etc.)We all wrote down our goals and things we’d like to learn more about or get better at. We workout each morning and they are insisting I teach them how to cook. Life is full, busy and very rewarding. We just love summer!

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15 Laura June 14, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Thanks. You encourage me.

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16 the domestic fringe June 14, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Good advice for summer! My kids still have two more weeks of school, but I’m trying to relax and enjoy our time while waiting for summer to ‘officially’ begin.
-FringeGirl

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17 Lauren June 14, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I love #5! Well, really, all of these are so true! But I majorly agree with you on savoring every moment with our children and not wishing the time away. Super post and very well said!

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18 jen June 14, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Fantastic, awesome, super wonderful post! These are all things that we do, but it was fun to get a couple new links to use and a dose of fresh inspriation!

We’re gonna do that color wheel. We’ve done color wheels before, but my kids never ever tire of mixing paint . . . so we’ll all have a blast. Maybe this time we’ll do tertiary colors too!

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19 tara June 14, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I’ve got a post ready for this week that is very similar to this ….I did it after I read Meg’s post….fell in love with the art blog and put it on my sidebar….LOVE it.

We have painted for the past 4 days…seriously..and it all looks amazing. I think my castle looks the best. :)

Okay Ta-Ta for now…LOVE this post….

LOVE the summer with my kids and the more relaxed..”let’s have fun together” mood that it brings!

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20 Kristi June 14, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I HEART summer! And since it’s SO short here in upstate NY, we try to savor EVERY moment!
We have a hutch in our “formal” (haha) dining room that has all baskets of art supplies in it so they are at our fingertips year round. Of course the baby has discovered them so he had to put the markers higher, LOL!
And I was literally laughing out loud when you said you were like the 1950′s mom because my kids say the SAME THING. WHen I say I’m coming swimming with you, the first thing they say is ARE YOU GOING UNDERWATER?!?! My hair does NOT dry pretty. ANd honestly I hate doing my hair more then once a day (heck I don’t wash it everyday so I don’t have to!). So when I DO go underwater apparently it’s a real treat, LOL!
We are a very little tv household. And I’m SO excited because when we move there is VERY limited (not many channels) cable company where we are moving (and I refuse to get satellite, lol).
And lastly, my boys just started the Narnia series! So excited :)
Kristi

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21 Sarah June 15, 2010 at 1:59 am

Oh Edie,
I’m so glad to see you enjoying your summer with the girls at the lake. I too love every minute of summer with my boys. Today we had a water balloon contest and played on the slip and slide. Those are simple pleasures, but unforgettable memories. Hooray for summer!
God’s blessings friend,
Sarah :D

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22 Trina June 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

“They can get lost for hours in make-believe play—but they can only do it if there are hours to get lost in.” So true!

Great post! May I share…?

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23 Kelly June 15, 2010 at 10:31 pm

I love all that time to play pretend! Great ideas all around. oh and I think you have the wrong link for Meg. Kelly

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24 Susan June 16, 2010 at 4:22 am

I ADORE SUMMER for all the reasons you so eloquently outlined! I feel you on the whole getting the hair wet thing. I too will resist it, but I’m proud of you for going for it. Our kids love it when we do something that they think is out of character for us, don’t they?

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25 meg duerksen June 16, 2010 at 5:41 am

hello!
so glad you found some great art to do. :)
it’s been fun here too.
this is a great list.
i am going to knock out the tv a lot more.
it is making me crazy.
and that piano will be the death of me….

stars are hard to come by in town….guess we’ll have to go camping!

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26 Lana Austin June 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Just HAD to comment on this post, too!!

YES!!!!! And can I get an Amen from the congregation? AMEN!

HALLELUJAH!!

AND AMEN AGAIN!!!!

Sing it sister!!!!!

(And I’m going to drive all the way to your part of TN right now…oh, wait…have to find my keys first, so it make take a while…just to see you do that toe touch–I’m MUY impressed!)

Blessings, love, turquoise joy,
L

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27 LuLu June 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Loved this post! thank you for the great tips… i want to savor this time as well and not let the “everyone home become overwhelming”
xo,
LuLu

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28 jenn June 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Hi Edie!!!!! you are beautiful inside & out!!!! i love your blog. more importantly, i love the way you share your heart & your family life. i am obsessed with your ikea curtains from your old house…the ones that were in your kitchen dining area (green leaf pattern with pops of red & that lovely turq color!!!). i just tried to order them & guess what? i can’t order them, i have to drive to the actual ikea store:(…boo. i am about 2 hours away, but it’s just not feasible right now. so, i was wondering if you were thinking pf selling yours??? i would think *not*, since they’re the cutest & would fit right in to your lovely lake home (which i adore btw). buut…it never hurts to ask. if you think you may want to sell them, please let me know. i’ll snatch ‘em up & adorn them on my bungalow kitchen windows, & then i’ll tell everyone how this darling cute girl (ahem, that’s you)inspired me:P! let me know. thank you for your inspiration. thank you for sharing Christ so beautifully. i, too, am a home school mom & you have encouraged me so much. much love to you, your family, & your new home.

jenn
{{{from the deep south}}}
columbiana, alabama

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29 zoe June 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

oopsie – I think the link to Meg’s blog is incorrect – another ‘Whatever’, but definitely not dear Meg! :)

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30 Talysa June 16, 2010 at 6:13 pm

Love the color wheels…we just read a few books about Georgia O’Keeffe…fascinating. And we are about to do some of her paintings…as soon as our new patio dries and I get our art table up. :-) Looks like you are having a blast this summer…enjoy!

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31 Ruth June 16, 2010 at 7:02 pm

I’m in love with that art blog. I have this on my must do list with the kids this year. We are doing classical astronomy this year and I love the link you shared. Can’t wait to jump in.

We’ve taken a couple of weeks off to get some cleaning and reorganizing in. We will do all those things we don’t have time for during the school year. I am so excited about our upcoming projects.

Love this list and all the great links and encouragement.

Ruth

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32 Amy June 17, 2010 at 1:12 am

Oh Edie, your girls would love my art camp I’m hosting at my house this week! Emily’s girls are here…we would have such fun….

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33 Heather June 17, 2010 at 2:18 am

Made the color wheels the same day we read this. The kids loved it! Also made the strawberry dream cake thingy for my FIL bday and we all loved that too! thanks

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34 Kimberly June 17, 2010 at 3:37 am

This post reminds me of my childhood! My mom used to read to me and my sister for hours each day during the summer. We used to beg for her to read just a little bit more. I have sweet memories of those long, lazy summer days!

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35 shelly June 17, 2010 at 6:04 am

what fun you must all be having!

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36 melissa*320 sycamore June 17, 2010 at 1:22 pm

hello edie! I agree with everything on the list, we especially love reading and letting them be. happy summer!

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37 Linda @ bushel and a pickle June 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Great words of wise mom encouragement. Trying to stick to the plan even on a 3 weeks work / family visit trip so I take any encouragement I can get! Even got my hair cut os no muse, no fuss. Thanks! Keep having fun reading and swimming!!!

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38 Jackie June 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Have you ever tried making an edible color wheel. You use white frosting and then mix in food coloring. The kids can make a lot of varying shades and tints by adding more food coloring or white frosting. spread each color on a cracker or vanilla wafer and have the kids arrange them into a color wheel. Then eat!

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39 stacy June 18, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Edie,

We used/still using Jay Ryan’s “Signs and Seasons” curriculum for classical astronomy. Apologia is our go to science curriculum but they have no course book for classical astronomy. The is great stuff. 5 kids grades 4-11 loving it.

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40 sandy June 19, 2010 at 12:51 am

I can’t tell you how much your website has helped my daughter in her first year as a Home School mom… she is living in Guam on a Navy base with her USCG husband and three small boys… they are thriving with her teaching (age 7-5 and 3)… although she tends to doubt herself sometimes, with sites like yours she is doing wonderful… her boys are reading two years ahead of normal schooling, are sweet loving children with such good manners.
You also offer other sites with such useful information for her…
thank you so much for all you are!
It broke my heart to see you leave your last house (the work you put into that kitchen)… but I see you and your family are loving your new home….
all the best to you.
Sandy
Clearwater, FL

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41 gina June 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm

life is learning – a mantra i try to live by. I swear by mixing in plenty of old fashioned summer fun – stuff like on your list.

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42 denise July 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm

what a delightful blog you have.

i have that type of hair too…my kids are THRILLEd the one time a year i dive jump in. so thrilled i should do it more often.

thank you for the encouragement to enjoy them this summer (which is going by to quickly).

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