by Katie Brazerol
I was recently approached by a child care provider in my neighborhood, and she said she’s been struggling this summer to find things to do to keep the children in her care, especially the older ones, from fighting and exclaiming, “I’m bored!”
Although most of us look forward to summer, the change in routine can be tough on children. The structure of the day is often more relaxed in the summer, creating a challenge for children who become bored easily. Here is a list of ideas for you to try in your setting. Hopefully a few of them are new to you!
- Set up a tent in your backyard. Bring out some camping supplies, and allow the children to take turns camping out.
- Provide buckets of water and paint brushes and paint rollers. Invite children to paint the sidewalk, the fence, the building, or even the trees!
- Fill water bottles with water and set them all to the mist setting. Define clear rules for a child-friendly water fight.
- Create a beanbag toss box. Cut holes in the bottom of a box and place it upside-down on the ground. Provide beanbags or rolled-up socks to toss into the holes.
- Take a field trip to a local museum, library, or nearby business. Call ahead of time to arrange a tour for your group.
- Read outside! Place a soft blanket in the grass, and provide a basket of books for the children to choose from. Read to the children or allow them to look through books on their own as they lounge on the blanket.
- Start a playgroup. Is there another child care or family nearby? Plan a playdate with them so the children can mingle with new friends. Parents may even wish to swap time at each other’s houses to give each other a break!
- Freeze 100% juice in popsicle molds and enjoy the cool treats outside on a hot day.
- Spread out a blanket on the floor and serve a picnic lunch in lunch bags.
- Offer each child a flashlight, turn off the lights, and shut the shades. Turn on lively music and allow the children to dance in the dark.
- Take the children outdoors and examine a watermelon together. Cut it into slices and serve for a juicy snack. Rinse off with the hose when you’re done.
- Bake cookies together and bring them to a local fire department, police department, or elderly care facility.
- Set up a bowling alley outside with empty 2-liter bottles. Fill the bottoms of the bottles with a bit of sand to use as the pins, and use a regular ball to knock them down.
- Drape your backyard or play area with toilet paper or streamers. Invite the children to crawl under and over them, and then tear it all down.
- Ask each family to decorate their child’s bike or trike and bring it to your setting for a bike parade. Have a few bikes on hand for families that may not have their own.
- Purchase washable window markers and invite children to create masterpieces on your windows or sliding glass doors.
- Purchase face paint or watercolor colored pencils, and draw designs on the children’s faces. Keep paper towels, soap, and warm water on hand to wash off the designs.
- Don’t walk to the park. Call out a series of movements for the children to complete as you head to the park. Depending on the skill levels of your group, have them walk backward, take giant/tiny steps, hop/jump, skip, gallop, etc.
- Have a teddy bear picnic. Ask children to bring a favorite teddy bear or other stuffed animal, and set up a picnic for them.
- Cut pool noodles into different lengths and challenge children to create towers with them.