I’m usually all for getting the kids outside but let’s be real … we live in South Louisiana and it is HOT. As much as I wish that we could have always have outdoor adventures, we’re all like, “Bring on the AC!” by this point in the summer. Here are some activities that can help you survive the long, hot days before school begins.
Warning: it is messy BUT it is so easy to clean up. Oobleck is, by far, my toddler’s favorite activity. I didn’t make up oobleck so Google away to find a lot of ideas for things to do with this mixture.
Oobleck can be made in a big container using cornstarch and water. I usually don’t measure either ingredient but you will need around two parts cornstarch to one part water. I usually start with a small box of cornstarch and gradually add the water while mixing it with my hand until the mixture is the right consistency. You want it to be liquid, but it will solidify when you hold it in a fist. When you open your hand, the cornstarch should drip down as if it’s a liquid.
Let them dig in! My son usually takes out all of his dump trucks, excavators, rollers, and loaders and turns it into a construction site. Even if they don’t put toys in the mixture, they will love just running their hands through it over and over again.
The cool science-y thing about this activity is that you can teach your child that this mixture acts as both a solid and a liquid. You can also throw in a fancy word like “viscosity.”
You could do this activity inside or outside. I usually put down trash bags on my kitchen floor but even if it gets on your hard floors, it is easy to wipe away.
Sorting With Chompers
Children love playing with “chompers,” as my son calls them, aka tongs or tweezers. You can find kids’ tongs at school supply stores but recently I found them for $1 at Dollar Tree! You can also use cooking tongs. There are so many different activities that you can do with these.
In this activity, gather up a couple of bowls or Tupperware as well as any small toy animals in your house. Label the bowls with a picture of an animal habitat such as a farm, jungle, sea, etc.
Using the tongs, have your child pick up each animal and place it in it’s appropriate habitat. They’re gaining fine-motor strength as they pick up each animal and practicing their ability to sort.
Getting the mail every day has become a family affair ever since I was on my first maternity leave and craved stepping out of these four walls. So, the field trip to get all of our bills and junk mail has become a daily ritual. Once we get back from the mailbox, I let him sit at his table and cut up all the mail that would otherwise go to the trash (not the bills unfortunately.) Of course, you’ll need to supervise any activity with sharp objects but thankfully they make a lot of safety scissors and other cutting tools that children can use. You can draw on the mail in designs that make them zig zag and swirl, or buy fancy scissors that add some pizazz to the cutting.
This requires zero prep. Turn out the lights, turn up the tunes, and encourage your kids to display their best dance moves!
Middle of the Day Bath
If it’s too hot or sunny for outdoor play but your kids are itching for some water play, there is no rule that says you can’t give them a bath in the middle of the day. They can bring in water toys and wear their bathing suits or it can be a plain ole in-the-buff bubble bath. Either way, they’ll love changing things up and will be occupied long enough for you to kick up your feet for a minute while you sit and watch them play.
Have you ever heard of a COOL glue gun? This may be the best invention EVER for parents. My biggest issue with crafting over the years was that you can’t hand over a glue gun to a child and let them run free. You’re stuck having them point to where they want each piece glued. That gets old and boring really fast. Cool glue guns will not burn your child’s skin like typical glue guns. So, get on Amazon or hop in your car and get one of these. Your child will feel so big!
Once you have your glue gun, ask your child to collect things to make a sculpture. Recyclables, sequins, sticks, jewels … whatever! In these pictures, my son picked out a papier-mâché dinosaur at a local craft store as well as “fuzzies.” He used the cool glue gun to put the pom poms all over the dinosaur. It required little from me and he got to have total control of his project. He’s so proud of his dinosaur sitting on the shelf.
To change it up for older children, in my kindergarten class we glued recyclables onto a piece of wood. Once it was dry, we sprayed each sculpture with metallic spray paint. These sculptures looked fancy enough to be in a museum. We were inspired by these “Nevelson Found Sculptures.”
Mini Ice Hockey
This activity is a great one to do outdoors while keeping cool.
Freeze a couple inches of water in a rectangular container. Have your children find something that can be the puck for their hockey game. You could even have them pick out a couple options to test out to find the best puck. Before playing, it’s always a good idea to go over the rules of whatever game you’re about to play. You’ll thank yourself later.
Once it’s rock solid, invite them to play a couple of games of hockey outside with their mini rink. The ice rink will take a while to melt but they will be cool the whole time they play.
You can make this activity even more fun by freezing various objects (i.e. plastic letters, small animals, Legos) in the water. After the thrill of ice hockey wears off, let your children chip away as the ice melts and dig for their objects.
Frozen Fruit Parfaits
Children always enjoy cooking! For this activity, your children can be completely hands-on without you having to worry about them cutting or burning themselves.
For this activity you’ll need fruit, yogurt, and popsicle molds. The molds are sold at dollar stores or Walmart.
Let your children pick out their favorite fruit to slice up. I recommend having options that are easy to cut (i.e. bananas, strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, etc.) so that they can use a dull butter knife to slice the pieces independently.
Once they’ve cut their fruit, have them layer fruit with whatever yogurt that you have on hand into the molds. So, little scoop of fruit, little scoop of yogurt, little scoop of fruit, etc.
Put all the molds in the freezer when they’ve finished. Once the treats are frozen, bring them outside to enjoy. They’ll melt quicker outside and won’t make a mess indoors.
There are so many workout and yoga videos online that are kid-friendly. Set up a “gym” or “workout studio” in your living room, have your children put on their favorite comfy clothes, and meet for a workout session. My favorite website for getting children moving is GoNoodle, but YouTube also has many great channels and videos, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga or Kids Zumba.
Scavenger hunts around the house are great for children but are especially fun when you have older kids who can help you create it or can help read the clues to the younger children. I prefer writing scavenger hunts that leave out words that your children have to figure out by using rhyming. For example, “The next clue is not too far, it’s under the seat in the ____.” Your children will have to use context clues and rhyming to figure out that the next clue is in the car. The end of the scavenger hunt can be a sweet treat, a movie for later that evening, a special stuffed animal who is “hiding,” or whatever else that your children will be excited to see.