Hooray! The long lazy days of summer have arrived. After having successfully completed another school year you can't wait to spend time doing nothing. It is important to allow kids unstructured time to renew, refresh and come to know themselves. However, more often than not, sometime during the next few months children will utter the words, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do!" (add whiny voice as appropriate). Here are some suggestions to keep kids active mentally and physically which also nurture them emotionally. Remember summer is a wonderful time to build relationships by spending time playing, doing, and growing together.
Have family members set summer goals. For example: list of books you want to read, things you want to do, places to visit, skills you need to learn.
Take your child to the library and sign up for a summer reading program.
Have your child help put together a first aid kit that can go with you on your many summer outings.
Give your child an inexpensive camera and let them take pictures of all the fun activities you do over the summer. Create a scrapbook of memories.
Practice pranayama by blowing bubbles or dandelion heads.
Pack a picnic and enjoy eating outdoors.
Watch a baseball/football/soccer/beach volleyball game together. Talk about the rules and how they are important.
See how many places in your home (not including books) where your child can find words to read.
Make paper airplanes and practice airplane pose (Warrior III with arms out to the side).
Plant a garden and enjoy tending it throughout the season.
Visit a local museum or art gallery.
Sketch or paint outdoors: clouds, night sky, trees, a favourite view, an interesting building...let your imagination and creativity soar.
Lie on the grass and look at the clouds. Make up stories about the shapes you see.
Colour mandalas. Go for a walk and find mandalas in your neighbourhood (flowers, signs, art, stepping stones, etc).
Learn geography while watching the World Cup. Find participating countries on a map.
Teach your child their personal information: phone number, address, etc. Practice each day.
Can your children tell time? Teach them how to read an analog clock with yoga eyes.
Check out a book of jokes or riddles. Share one over dinner each day.
Create an indoor or outdoor miniature golf course. Play a round or two.
Grab a broomstick and hold a limbo contest. Back-bends open the heart and invigorate the body.
Add food coloring to a dollop of shaving cream. Let your child use it as finger paint.
Make homemade ice-cream. Practice two scoops partner pose.
Help your child write a letter or card to a relative or friend telling about summer events.
Fly a kite. Practice triangle pose (sometimes called kite pose).
Have a pillow fight.
Enjoy face painting and then perform face yoga in the mirror and laugh at your funny faces.
Read under the stars. Take a blanket and book outside and read with your child by flashlight.
At dinner have each family member say something nice about every person at the table.
Make puppets out of a paper bag, an old sock or a stick. Put on a puppet show.
Cut out pictures from several magazines. Have your child write a story about them.
Give your child a bucket of water and some paint brushes. Let her "paint" the sidewalk, fence, house, etc.
Find out when the sun sets and rises in your area. Learn how to do Sun Salutations.
Look at the stars with your child. Make up new constellations together.
Find a local kiddie pool, beach or fountain and go wadding.
Play alphabet games with your child. List countries, animals, cars or yoga poses in alphabetical order.
Build a fort inside or out using blankets, sheets, boxes, tables, chairs and other items found around the house.
Meditate upon the breeze as it ruffles the leaves of your favourite tree.
Create a treasure/scavenger hunt and help your kids follow the clues for a fun reward.
Choose a new recipe. Have fun cooking with your child.
Cut out pictures of healthy foods from weekly grocery ads.
Discuss the Food Pyramid. Have your child use the pictures from the above activity and make a chart of nutritious choices.
Look at family photos. Share stories and remember wonderful moments together.
Play with a hula hoop and discover hoop yoga.
Make musical instruments from things around your house. Have a concert.
Play a card game with your child; Crazy 8s, War, Rummy, Old Maid, Go Fish, Snap all build memory, hand-eye coordination & math skills.
Collect bugs and do insect poses such as locust, spider, inchworm, bumble bee lips, etc.
Fill water guns, buckets and water balloons and have a water fight.
Camp out in the back yard.
Create amazing sidewalk art with sidewalk chalk and a little water.
Help out at the local SPCA. Learn how to do downward dog pose, cat pose, rabbit pose and other poses for animals at the shelter.
Visit an orchard or u-pick farm.
Feed the ducks at the local pond. Enjoy a great hip opening exercise by walking like a duck.
Author of Once Upon a Pose: A Guide to Yoga Adventure Stories for Children, Donna Freeman is a yoga instructor, teacher, mother of four, and honey to 1. She has been doing yoga since 1997 and teaching it since 2002. Passionate about yoga for kids and teens, she loves showing parents and teachers how to share the joy of yoga with children of all ages. Visit http://www.yogainmyschool.com/ for all you ever wanted to know about yoga for kids and teens. You can also access THE PET STORE, a FREE download and the easiest, most effective way to teach kids yoga.