Welcome to the second installment of “How to have Healthy Happy Kids this Summer.” As I said last week, as a therapist, I see lots of frazzled parents and stressed out kiddies. So, I am here to help you and your kids stay busy, relaxed, and growing this summer! As parents we want our children to be happy and content. We also want them to grow into responsible, well-adjusted adults who understand that life isn’t always about fun. We want to provide an environment rich with opportunities for our kids to learn and practice valuable life skills. And, we would really like to keep our OWN sanity as well.
Each week I offer a few ideas – some “quick break” activities to reset cranky kids, an afternoon activity perfect for filling a hole in your schedule, and some quiet time projects to keep everyone calm and relaxed. So, without further ado, here are this week’s picks:
- This week’s Quick Break: Simon Says, Red Light Green light, Freeze Tag, or Statues
Okay, this one is really a 4-in-1 kind of activity but I couldn’t pick just one. Dig out some of those old playground favorites from days gone by. These four games can be played inside or outside making them a terrific all-weather quick break activity. They can also be modified to be age-appropriate for even the youngest school-ager.
Developmental Bonus: All these oldies but goodies help children learn to pay attention, follow directions and exercise self-control. Important skills, don’t you think?
- This week’s Afternoon Activity: Make and play with puppets
Here are a couple of sites with great puppet ideas, instructions and even patterns:
- Shadow Puppets: The Nurture Store has a terrific post on how to make and play with these unique puppets. Give it a try!
- Monster Puppets: Six Sisters Stuff provides everything you need to make really adorable Monster Puppets you’re your kids. Sure to be a fun afternoon for everyone.
Developmental Bonus: You can get a developmental two-for-one with this activity. First, creating the puppets provides a great way for children to practice following instructions; develop fine motor skills; and exercise their creativity. The second bonus comes from playing with the puppets. Allow children to create their own worlds around their make-believe characters. This type of creative-expressive play is terrific for developing brains and really helps children process emotions as well.
This week’s Quiet Time: Discover the clouds, the trees, the birds, the bees…
Just go outside and lie on the grass (you can spread out a picnic blanket if it makes you feel better). Watch the clouds and see what shapes you can discover. Try making up stories about the various “cloud creatures” and let everyone take a turn adding to the story. Or, just lay quietly together and daydream. Notice the birds, the squirrels, the bugs. Older children can be encouraged to start a Nature Journal in which they record what they see. Here’s a terrific journal you can print out for free!
Developmental Bonus: Children need unstructured time in which to dream. They also need outlets for emotions they don’t know how to express yet. This activity provides both. Allowing children to tell fantastical stories gives them a way to “play out” those emotions in a safe and effective way. Older children can also benefit from the discipline of keeping a record.
That’s it for this week. Be sure to check back next week for more ideas. If you want to be sure you never miss a thing, sign up for email notification below or follow us on Facebook. And, of course, if this was helpful to you share it with your friends!