By Holly Reisem Hanna
As summer comes around, it presents unique challenges for work-at-home moms. School is out, and all of your regular routines are thrown out the window. Trying to entertain your kids while squeezing in some work can be a major challenge. But with a little pre-planning and creativity, your little ones can have fun this summer while you continue to work and grow your business.
Here are some fun and creative ideas to keep your little ones occupied.
Arts and Crafts:
1. Paper Bag Puppet
Supplies to gather: small brown lunch bags, white glue, buttons, yarn, wiggly eyes, glitter, and markers. Get creative by making a face of the lower flap of the bag, use the yarn for the hair and buttons for a shirt. Once it dries, let your little ones put on a puppet show.
2. Egg Carton Caterpillar
Supplies to gather: cardboard egg cartons, wiggly eyes, markers, pipe cleaners, and paint. Cut the egg carton in half (long way). Paint the egg carton and let dry. Glue on eyes, draw on a nose and mouth and use the pipe cleaners for antennas.
3. Milk Carton Bird House
Supplies to gather: a half-gallon cardboard milk carton (washed out), glue, popsicle sticks, scissors, paint, and string. Take the milk carton and cut out a 2” x 3” opening on one of the sides. Paint the popsicle sticks and let them dry. Once they are dry glue them onto the milk carton. Once the glue is dry, punch a small hole in the top tab of the milk carton, loop a piece of string through the hole and tie it off. Hang it up in a tree and do some bird watching.
4. Pet Rocks
Supplies to gather: small flat rocks, paint, wiggly eyes, permanent markers, and glue. First, paint your rocks and let them dry. Once they are dry, glue on eyes and draw of the rest of the face. If you want to get really creative – glue on some yarn for hair. When I was little I tried to sell my pet rocks door to door – the entrepreneur in me came out at a very young age.
5. Hanging Mobile
Supplies to gather: wire hangers, yarn, construction paper, markers, glue, hole punch, stickers, and glitter. Cut various shapes (stars, hearts, rain drops, clouds, flowers) out of construction paper. Decorate the shapes with markers, stickers, and glitter. Once the shapes are dry, punch a hole on each one, and then thread varying lengths of yarn through each hole. Tie the shapes to the clothes hanger and then hang up for decoration.
6. Pasta Jewelry
Supplies to gather: uncooked penne or macaroni pasta, paint and string. Paint the pasta different colors and let dry. Once the pasta tubes are dry, thread them onto the string in various patterns and create necklaces and bracelets to wear.
7. Jewelry Box or Pirates Chest
Supplies to gather: cardboard shoe box with lid, uncooked pasta shapes, glue, paint, glitter, plastic jewels, and stickers. First, have children paint the show box and pasta pieces. Once the paint is dry, decorate the boxes with the pasta pieces, jewels, glitter, and stickers.
Need more craft ideas? Check out Woo Jr. where they have coloring sheets, craft ideas, and activities.
Games and Playtime:
No need to go out and buy the expensive pre-packaged cans, you can make your own. It requires 5 C flour, 1C salt, 2T alum, four packages of unsweetened Kool-Aid, 4C boiling water and 6T oil. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and oil. Mix and knead the dough. Continue to add additional flour (a few cups) to help cool off and make less sticky. Knead until playdough is soft, not sticky. Once it is finished, let kids play with the playdough, cookie cutters, rolling pins and small bowls.
2. Scavenger Hunt
For the little ones that can’t read yet, make a scavenger hunt list by cutting pictures out of magazines and then tape or glue them to a piece of paper. Have them find age-appropriate items, once they find all of the items listed– reward them with a sticker or little prize. Scavenger hunts are great fun for the older kids too.
3. Treasure Hunt
Create a bunch of clues; images for the younger kids and more complex riddles for the older kids. Then hide the clues the night before. Example: where do we keep the milk – then hide your next clue on the refrigerator. At the end of all of the clues hide a small goodie bag with more fun activities for the child to do.
4. Role Playing
Kids love to imitate adults, from playing dress up to helping mommy in the kitchen. Make a running list of different role playing activities and then set up the various toys and tools need to act out the scenario. My daughter personally loves to play pet store, restaurant, pretend cooking and tea parties. For the pretend cooking, I give my daughter some uncooked penne pasta and dried beans and let her mix, measure and serve the dried ingredients. Make sure that the items that you give your child are age appropriate.
Need more fun ideas? Check out Chocolate Cake Moments post on, 51 Summer Family Fun Activities.
Beef up your summer reading list by signing up for a library card, or purchase some used books at Goodwill or garage sales. I’ve been able to buy a stack full of gently used books for just a few dollars. It’s also been noted that children who read over the summer have greater success in the next school year.
From rocks and bugs to stamps and coins, starting a collection can be fun and educational. My four-year-old daughter loves bugs, so we recently got her a butterfly net, a bug box, and a bug book. She could spend hours searching and looking at bugs. Make sure you’re tapping into your child’s interests.
From just learning to write your name to learning cursive and creative writing, keep your kids going by supplying them with the necessary tools. For younger children, go to Handwriting Worksheets and print out some custom-made worksheets. For the older kids purchase them a blank notebook, journal or diary and let them write about their summer vacation. Another great site to check out is IXL – they have all the skills your child should have from Pre-K – 8th grade.
4. Mini Garden
Supplies needed: cardboard egg carton, potting soil, and seeds. Place soil in each of the egg carton cups, and then plant your seeds. Give them water and sunlight and watch them grow – great for herbs and small plants.
Cooking can be a great way for kids to learn measurements and creativity. And there are many non-bake recipes out there so the little ones can experiment too.
Here are a couple of non-bake recipes to get you started:
Handmade Ice Cream in a Bag
- 1 T sugar
- ½ C milk or half & half
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- 6 T rock salt
- 1 pint-size plastic food storage bag
- 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
- Ice cubes
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag. Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it. Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully. Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes. You can also add ½ – 1 teaspoon of chocolate syrup to make chocolate ice cream.
No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
- ½ C butter softened
- 2 C creamy peanut butter
- 2 C confectioners' sugar
- 3 C crispy rice cereal
- 1 C semisweet chocolate chips
Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, peanut butter, and confectioners' sugar until well blended. Mix in the rice cereal so that it is evenly distributed. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. In the microwave or over a double boiler, melt chocolate chips, occasionally stirring until smooth. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the peanut butter bars. Refrigerate until set before cutting into bars.
With a little pre-planning and creativity, you’ll be on your way to summer filled with productivity and happy campers.
How do you keep your little ones occupied during the summer months?
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