The sun is shining bright and brimming with possibility, and you hear the most dreaded five letter word of summer, “I’m BORED!” The kiddos have been begging since the start of school for its release, and now that summer break is here, they don’t know what to do with the free hours that stretch into the infinite distance.
We’re here to save you!
I, Mary Schwartz, am a high school English teacher. I long for summer just as my delightful students do. My eyes wander to my wall of windows, and I yearn to be out in the sun when May hits. What do I do to fill all of my “free” time? Well, I attend summer training. I read. I write. I travel. I research. I shamelessly binge-watch Netflix, stay up too late, sleep in until noon, eat too much ice cream, cook extravagant meals, run many miles, and squeeze every last drop out of summer. I fill my bucket to overflowing to pour out to my students in the fall.
How do we teach our kiddos to enjoy their free hours?
Growing up Amish
When I was a school age child, I was surrounded by an Amish family and community, then I moved onto a small farm in Michigan. Summers were filled with gardening, milking the goats, tending the chickens, canning, and all manner of chores that felt like I was experiencing medieval torture that no other child had to ever endure the sort of chores that I had experienced. Oh, the drama of childhood emotions! There was little time for boredom. Playtime was always earned and enjoyed to the maximum capacity. We had a minimal amount of toys and an abundance of outdoors. Hours were spent constructing teepees out of twine and ferns that grew, in what seemed like millions, in the goat pasture. We built playhouses out of the shed that housed enough firewood for a Michigan winter provided weeks of fun. We had to cut and stack the entirety of a shed filled to the rafters with wood, but we created a game out of the laborious process. What a treat it was when Mom let us eat our dinner in the woodpile that was our palace.
I wrote stories and poems on pages and pages of notebook paper. The number of books read was only ebbed by the amount that could be checked out from the tiny local library. The giant mud puddle in the backyard constituted a pond where we eagerly explored the micro contents and named the little critters that floated in its murky waters. I’m smothering my hands in sanitizer as I think of what nasty things lurked and bred in the depths of the cesspool. I’m still alive to tell about it.
There were countless wheelbarrows full of corn to husk, cut, and can. Followed by apples, tomatoes, strawberries… we planted, weeded, and picked it all.
My mother had a gift for making any chore a delightful game or anything a most magnificent reward. If we weeded the whole garden by ten, we could turn the hose on and make it a sprinkler for the afternoon and eat at the picnic table instead of inside. She made it sound as if we were visiting Paris for the afternoon. And guess what? We felt like we were. If you’re excited, they will be excited too.Excitement is contagious. If you’re excited, your kids will be excited too. #summerbreakClick To Tweet
I know we can’t all live on farms like I did. But why not recreate some of the magic. Here are some ideas on how to go from boring to exploring this summer. Make summer simple again.
Let’s keep it simple by using this helpful acronym for BORED.
1. Make a bucket list. Show your kiddos some summer bucket lists and have them create their own within obvious parameters. They are creating their personal goals and ideas. Make them responsible for their own happiness. It allows them to take more control over their schedule.
Here are some of the creative ideas shared by our amazing US customers:
2. Write a story. It is an excellent activity for all levels. Its complexity can significantly depend upon their age. There are some great digital storyboards (storybird.com). They can even submit their work for publication for cash/scholarship rewards.
3. Learn a new skill like crocheting, knitting, painting, building, legos, etc. There are lots of great youtube tutorials as well as books that can be checked out for a multitude of projects. This helps them with creativity as well as their reading comprehension skills.
4. Do a genius hour project. You may have heard about them for your kiddos classrooms. These projects are all about the students’ interests. They do research and create either a report or something physical based on their interest.
5. Backyard camping. There was nothing as cool as when our parents let us set up a tent in the backyard. Don’t have a backyard or your neighborhood isn’t safe? Pitch a tent in the living room. Make smores at the campfire, on your stove, or even in the microwave. They are just as yummy, and your kids will love any variation of it.
6. How many games can you create out of a box of sidewalk chalk? Make the next American Ninja Warrior course on the ground. Write positive message. Create a mural. Practice math or spelling words. It’s way more fun outside!
7. Make a small garden. If you don’t have outside space, plant it in a few pots. It is incredible when you are responsible for the life of something. How awesome is it to watch a tomato grow and then ripen, finally to enjoy it on a sandwich or a salad. Let your kiddo choose what he/she wants to grow. Name the plant. Read/watch the best ways to tend it. Make it a science experiment.
Read a Book?
8. Let them read what interests them. It’s okay if not all of their books are challenging. Can you imagine if you were only allowed to read college level textbooks? You would hate reading. Let them read for fun too.
9. Read to learn. Have them pick an Interest Book. It could be about another country, how to build a tree house, cookbook, etc. Learning should be fun.
Here’s where the mean old teacher is going to peak out. Studies show that a significant amount of content is lost during the summer. That means that teachers spend a great deal of time reteaching during the first quarter that students come back to school. You wouldn’t take three months off of training before running a marathon. Just like your legs, your brain is a muscle. When you don’t use your muscles, you lose strength. Keep them practicing at least half an hour a day. There are lots of free resources as well as workbooks for them to use through the summer.
Exercise 20 minutes?
10. Train for a 5k. There are so many of them hosted over the summer or make your own neighborhood one. Running isn’t their thing? Check out the next idea!
11. Do some yoga or have a dance party.
12. Go to the park and let them play. They can create their own contests.
13. Create fitness goals. How fast do I run a mile now? What is my goal by the end of summer? How many push-ups can I do? How many sit-ups? What is the Guinness World Record for jumping jacks done in a minute? Can I beat it? There are also a ton of youtube workout videos geared towards kids. Have them make a poster of their goals and a grid of days where they mark each day they did their workout and new accomplishments they have reached. Put it in a place where you see it every day.
Done something helpful?
14. Create a chore list of helpful things they can do around the house and/or the neighborhood.
15. Research association in your community that can use volunteers.
16. Your crafting can be used for a purpose. You can knit hats for newborns.
17. Make a meal for the family. You would be amazed at what your kiddos can accomplish given the opportunity. Maybe they can make everyone peanut butter and jelly sandwich or they are ready to cook.
So the next time you hear your lovely littles say that terrible B word, refer them to the acronym BORED.
May your days be filled with laughter, sunshine, and joy and kiddos that are engaged in some marvelous activities.Make kids responsible for their own happiness. It allows them to be more creative. Click To Tweet
Lastly, here is a fun list of MORE fun things:
18. Educational screen time
19. Look for it book
20. One exciting outing per week
21. Splash Pad
23. Dollar Tree Trip
25. Vacation Bible School
26. Science camp
27. To-do list before you can do whatever you want
28. Boredom Jar (tons of ideas on Pinterest)
29. Library events
30. Summer reading program
31. Day Camps
32. Lemonade stand
33. Large puzzles
34. Study time
35. Learning (animal prints, flowers, native plants)
37. Book reports
39. Make your own slime
40. Make a Scandinavian summer treat
41. Outside time
42. Craft time
43. Local adventures once a week
46. Quilt patches
49. Friendship bracelets
52. Start their own business
53. Felt projects
54. Puppet shows
55. Book club
56. Start doing more chores (laundry)
58. Go on a French Picnic
60. Calligraphy books
61. Memorization of scriptures/poems, etc.
64. Creating a documentary
65. Learning dances and choreographing their own