Summer vacation is here, bringing with it endless opportunities for family fun. This summer, I’m planning to keep my guys busy with a balance of activities, most of them right at home, but some will bring much needed get out of the house time. Most days, my kids will have 30 minutes of chores, 2 hours of academic review and then, once the house is tidy, the yard is in order, and their minds are awake, either play time or a planned family fun activity. I hope this list of summer fun activities is a useful springboard for you to use as you plan your summer of family fun. If you’d like to share any of your own ideas, please leave a comment below!
- Your local library will have simple, fun, and free projects each week. Other sources for organized but not too demanding projects are Home Depot, Lowes and Pottery Barn – they host project classes for kids throughout the summer.
- My kids love homemade costumes. Last year they made costumes out of paper leaf bags. They are currently into Robin Hood and love making working bows and arrows out of strong sticks and string. Kids can use old pillow cases, worn out t-shirts and all kinds of things to create fun costumes and then build forts out of blankets to continue the dramatic play.
- Make a marshmallow city out of buildings made from tooth-picks and mini marshmallows.
- Have a pirate day: dress up, make a treasure map for your kids to follow so they can find little toys (or rocks spray painted gold) that you’ve hidden in the yard, have a water balloon fight with black balloons (cannonballs).
- Make origami or other paper boats, name and decorate them, and then race them in a pool.
- Have spa day with the girls: inexpensive facials, mani-pedis and cool herbal tea drinks will make everyone peaceful and happy. Don’t forget to have them lie down with cucumber slices on their eyes!
- Your kids can create their own nature journals by drawing plants, birds and animals they see that interest them. The kids can label their drawings and write down facts about each one. They can include leaves they’ve collected (but it’s better if you press the leaves between pages of an old magazine for a few days before putting them into the journal).
- Go berry picking and then use the berries to make something delectable for the whole family: blueberry pancakes, pies, cobblers, salads, caflouti, yogurt parfaits, or jam. That is, if you bring any berries home!
- Hold a lemonade stand benefitting a charity such as Alex’s Lemonade Stand for childhood cancer: www.alexslemonade.org/
- Cook a meal for the homeless! Volunteer to bring your family to make a simple meal for the Loaves and Fishes Ministry at St. John’s in Grant Park. Team up with another family for more fun: http://saintjohnwonderworker.org/loaves.html
- Girls love to host a fancy tea party. Make special cookies, cucumber or watercress with cream cheese sandwiches, and other treats and then bring out your prettiest tea cups. Invite grandma or other friends over and encourage everyone to dress up. Straw hats are not required but definitely preferred!
Find Orthodox Camps for your kids. Check with your local church for their overnight camps. Here are a few possibilities:
These camps are important for growing faith, giving them a lot of fun in a spiritual context, and building friendships among our Orthodox youth.
- Saint Mary of Egypt in Roswell is hosting a day camp in July: http://www.stmaryofegypt.org/camp.html
- Go to a weekday service with your kids. Pray with them. Read the scripture of the day together.
- Choose a saint a week to learn about and integrate that saint into your day. Here is a resource for making saint binders: http://www.orthodoxmom.com/2012/06/25/orthodox-saint-activity-binders/ These binders will help make learning about the saints easier.
Here are some ideas for day trips in the Atlanta area:
- Arabia Mountain: www.arabiaalliance.org Arabia Mountain is a granite outcropping near Stone Crest Mall. It looks like a little Stone Mountain, but is much more natural. There are beautiful bike trails and many miles of hikes. There is a Trappist Monastery nearby the mountain which welcomes visitors.
- Cochran Mill Nature Center: http://www.cochranmillnaturecenter.org/index.html This is the Southside’s version of the Chattahoochee Nature Center: http://www.chattnaturecenter.org/ Both nature centers feature programs for kids, hikes and picnic areas. Cochran Mill has a nice trail with multiple waterfalls; the Chattahoochee Nature Center is close to a beautiful park on the river.
- The Atlanta History Center: www.atlantahistorycenter.com The Atlanta History Center, located in Buckhead, includes the beautiful Swann House, the Tullie-Smith farmhouse with gardens and animals, and historical exhibits.
- Helen Georgia Helen is a cute Alpine village full of shopping and restaurants. While you’re there, plan to visit Charlemagne’s Kingdom, a model railway museum: http://www.georgiamodelrailroad.com Cool down after sightseeing in Helen by tubing in the Chattahoochee River.
- The Carlos Museum: www.carlos.emory.edu/ Thismuseum on the gorgeous Emory Campus has wonderful Egyptian exhibits which will interest kids of all ages and is just the right length. I’ll never forget the joy in my daughter’s eyes when she saw something she really liked during a long visit to a sophisticated art museum: the exit sign. That won’t happen at the Carlos Museum, kids love the mummies!
- For many more ideas about day trips in Georgia check out: http://www.exploregeorgia.org/ It lists each region of the state and has many fun suggestions for things to do.
Most mornings we’re having “mama school” and they either do workbook activities in math or reading or write a short 3 paragraph essay with my help. We wrote about our dog last week. After they wrote, we revised the essays for content, grammar, and spelling. They read them to daddy at dinner. The whole process took about an hour. Right now, they need a lot of revising but I hope that by the end of the summer they’ll have gained a valuable skill. whatever you choose to do, a little time spent reviewing skills will keep them on track when school starts back up.
- My kids are not likely to read on their own, so I found a high interest book (Howard Pyle’s Robin Hood) to get their summer started. They’re keeping a log of their reading each day and we’re talking about the story.
- Board games: logical thinking, strategy, adding, spelling and fun. We play Risk, Parcheesi, Scrabble, Monopoly and many other games. Host a game night party and let the fun begin!
We’re starting a busy, fun summer. I can’t wait to see your ideas so I can add to my family’s fun!