It’s summer and mothers are about to be run ragged. You will see them everywhere, doing their level best to help their kidlets enjoy their summer away from school. Some moms love this time, and some just do what they gotta do until school is back in session.
The kids will want to be taken fun places like the zoo, the park, the lake, the beach, the mountains, the dollar store, a friend’s house, the mall, the movies, Redbox to pick a favorite no-longer-in theaters movie, McDonalds for hamburgers, ball games, rock climbing, and the list goes on. Most moms will make as many of these things happen as their wallets and energy will allow. But what can you do with the kids that might be a little more educational as well as fun? Here are 5 ideas to consider. Get Dad in on the fun, too, whenever you can. Please share your own ideas in the comments section at the end of this article.
Five educational summertime things to do with your kids
1. Take a prettiest-flower-gardens-in-town tour. If you live near a temple that will be an ideal place to begin. Flowers are at their best on temple grounds. It’s almost as if the angels are doing the gardening to give them a heavenly radiance. The Provo Temple is a favorite garden spot with a glorious array of flowers and two spouting water fountains to top it off. Everyone who has visited Temple Square in Salt Lake City has discovered the beautiful flower gardens there. If you live near or are visiting the area don’t forget to enjoy this wonderland of color.
Water conservancies are also famous for beautiful gardens. If you live near Walnut Creek, CA The Gardens at Heather Farm are beautiful and free if you do a self-guided tour (https://gardenshf.org/). Or if you live in Victoria, Canada, or any where near, it will be worth it to take a tour of Butchart Gardens. The flowers are breathtaking. There is a fee but it will be worth it. If that’s not a possibility, enjoy an Internet visit at www.butchartgardens.com/.
To find gardens in your city google “flower gardens in (name your location)” and some will pop up. If you have a guided tour it usually has a fee, but may be money well spent to learn about the different flowers. Or do a little research and help your children identify the different kinds of flowers they see. Sometimes just a walk in the neighborhood with an eye focused on the neighbors’ flowers can be fun. See how many of these familiar flowers you and the children can name. Sometimes it’s fun to take a walk in the canyons or prairies and see the variety of wild flowers. Noticing flowers can help you and your family appreciate these beautiful gifts God created for our pleasure.
2. Attend free concerts in the park. If you live in the San Diego CA area you can enjoy a free concert every evening Monday thru Thursday at the Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park. Mondays are organ concerts, all others are a variety. This famed park is filled with historic Spanish architecture. It makes for a culture filled evening. Salt Lake City offers many summer concerts, including Brigham Young Park Concert Series featuring a variety of family-friendly performers, and it’s free. Ticketed concerts abound, as well. Just do a search for “Summer Concerts” in your area. We did and found concerts galore, many were free, from London, to Paris, to Hong Kong, and every major city and some small towns across the U.S. Do a google search to find the just-right one for your family.
3. Plan a family search for ancestors and do their baptisms at a nearby temple. In a Church News article (June 30, 2013, p. 16) a grandmother told how her granddaughter, Amelia’s birthday wish was to do baptisms for her deceased ancestors on her 12th birthday, names she had found herself. Family members helped her do the research. When the day arrived she was more than ready with 25 names. Her father baptized and confirmed her for these departed family members. Amelia said, “I was overcome by happiness and felt very warm inside. . . . I knew that my ancestors were rejoicing in heaven. . . The temple is a wonderful place to be. I’m so grateful for the temple; I can’t wait to go back.”
You, too, may be able to help your older children experience this kind of joy this summer. If you need a little help in the research department contact your ward family history specialist. Their Church calling is to help anyone desiring to find their ancestors. Family home evenings can be devoted to the project and could involve the younger children as you tell stories about your ancestors and help them realize the importance of temple ordinances. If grandparents live nearby invite them over to tell stories about their progenitors.
4. Visit a museum. Find one in your area that has a children’s section. Some museums are solely devoted to children, such as the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City. To find out about it see www.discoverygateway.org. The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis is billed as “One of the Nation’s Top Tourist Attractions”. It’s a bit pricey, but looks very tempting. If you’re in the area it may be worth a visit. See it at www.childrensmuseum.org/blog.
Consider visiting a museum right in your hometown. Sometimes the very people who live near a museum fail to pay it a visit. This summer may be the perfect time. We just googled Museums in Provo Utah and nearly 20 popped up. Put in your city and see what shows up on the screen. Then pick one and go make a day of it-maybe even hitting two or three.
Visit different kinds of museums. There are art museums galore, wild life museums, science museums, dinosaur museums. Who knows, a visit may just may kick in a special interest your child has had but didn’t even realize. Go exploring and have fun along the way, maybe ending with a visit to a snow cone shack on the way home.
5. Stay-home day.
A young mother in Colorado decided to have an at home day one day a week where they go nowhere. She makes it fun so her kids look forward to it. Once a month she has “literacy time” where they have a chance to improve their reading and writing skills. She does things like choosing a topic and writing about it in a journal. For one of their literacy days in June she chose to focus on fathers. Her 5-year-old wrote a simple little entry in his journal which said, “My favorite thing to do with Daddy is read stories.” Then she noted on her blog, “I am so glad my boys have such a wonderful daddy who makes a point of reading to them every night.”
Some moms have a craft day. One such activity could be making masks. Kids love to be creative.
All it takes is an idea and a few simple supplies. For ideas you can google “how to make a kids mask” and a bunch of suggestions will pop up. Some links will even lead you to a how-to on YouTube. Or choose any other crafty idea that sounds fun to you. Craft stores abound with ideas.
Let this summer be one of learning and fun. It may take a little extra effort but it will be well worth it in the long run. Having fun with your children is a great way to create a loving bond with them. These are the things that bring families close together and make memories that last a lifetime.
[For more on creating loving family relationships visit the Lundbergs’ website ]