Our summer break just started and I know it won’t be long before the kids are telling me they are bored and ready to go back to school. So before school ended I put together a list of crafts and activities to help keep us busy and outdoors.
Here are some ideas to teach, inspire, and entertain our youth this summerâ€¦the eco-friendly way of course!
Do a little gardening!
A Doorstep Garden
Turn an old boot into a stylish planter. The kids think gardening in old shoes is silly and fun. Don’t throw away old boots, upcycle them as cute doorstep planters. Add gravel, pebbles or rocks to the bottom few inches. Then add some dirt and a plant of your choice. I think annual flowers work the best. Above, my youngest is trying for some marigolds in her old rubber boots.
Container gardening is a great way to introduce gardening to children & adults. With a little knowledge, and the right soil, a lot of things can be grown in containers. Do the research with your children. Let them design the container garden while giving them a science lesson. Vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers can all be (and should be) mixed together.
We love to make terrariums. We collect our laundry money in the summer and then go to Goodwill to look for jars and vases that we think would make good terrariums. My girls love to pick out tiny jars on their shopping trips and bring them home for terrariums. The children put their toys (plastic bugs, fairy dolls, etc) and play pretend in them. This is a great creative play activity for when the afternoon thunderstorms arrive. We also use the terrariums to showcase shells and other things we find on our evening nature walks.
Make a Nature Journal
We had a leftover composition notebook from the school year so we decorated the cover with old magazines and things we could find in our backyard. Once or twice a week in the summer the children write and draw about nature in their journal. Things we have been doing in the garden, a butterfly they saw in the backyard, and a cool praying mantis on the sidewalk, have all found themselves in the journal. I sealed it with acrylic varnish and it’s held up for two summers now!
Nature Field Trips & Picnics
Scout out your neck of the woods. Neighboring towns and cities are great resources for unique nature finds. Look for botanical gardens, zoos, state & city parks, preserves, and other natural places you can take the kids for a fun field trip. Most parks open when the sun comes up, so we love to take a picnic breakfast to them in the summertime. Even our local museum has a little wildlife preserve area that is shaded and perfect for short summer hikes before cooling off in the museum. I have also found that checking your state’s historical sites is another way to find cool outdoors places to visit.
Raise some Bugs!
I saved my favorite suggestion for last… raise some butterflies or lady beetles this summer! There are a number of online sources to purchase benefitical insects. I prefer Insect Lore but I’m sure there are some great farms out there, maybe even one local to you. Insect Lore is in California and they do tours as well. You need to check your states shipping months because due to the heat some insects cannot be shipped during certain months of the year. We have really enjoyed Painted Lady butterflies and pink lady beetles a few times now. See them here, here and here.
When you are outdoors this summer be sure to wear light colored clothing, hats, sunglasses, and natural sunscreens. Activities can be done in the early morning or late afternoon to help combat the heat. Drink lots of water, in reusable bottles of course, and be sure to listen to your body.
Hope you have a wonderful summer of outdoor living!
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