Let Them Play!

boys playing by pond

Did you know that in 1959 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child? And did you also know that one of the rights it says should be afforded to every child on earth is the right to play?

I always knew how important play is to a child’s development but until recently I didn’t know that the United Nations has stated it as a right of every child. That’s a pretty powerful statement of support for play. With that in mind I decided that today’s blog post should be about summer play activities for kids.

During the school year your child is on a pretty regular schedule every day. The morning bell rings and classes start. Even recess is on a bell schedule that punctuates the school day. Then the final bell rings and kids are off to after school activities that are once again, scheduled like clockwork.

And while there is a lot to be said for routine, there are times when it’s totally refreshing to break away from the routine and just play. Free play is one of the great joys of summer when life is on a slower pace and there’s actually time to stare at the sky and pick shapes out of the cloud formations.

Having the time to play- really play- allows kids the opportunity for self-growth and discovery. In addition, many life skills can be honed while playing with buddies. All kids deserve this opportunity. I recently wrote a post on this very subject. Here’s the link to Why Play Time Is So Important for Your Child.

So all that being said, what are some good playtime activities your child can enjoy this summer? I’ve put together a list that can act as a jump start for your family’s own summer of fun.

  • Put together a play box on the back porch or deck. When the kids don’t know what to do with themselves, send them to the play box. Rest assured they will be busily occupied for a long while if you include an assortment of objects in the box. Here are some suggestions:
    • Kid-size flashlights
    • Magnifying glasses
    • An assortment of magnets and a jar of small nails, screws, bolts, etc.
    • A bucket of sand and a funnel
    • Small containers that can be filled with dirt, rocks, etc.
    • A book about birds
    • Interesting rocks that can be looked at through the magnifying glasses
    • Twigs and lashing cord for constructing imaginative objects

Your list of items in the box can go on, limited only by your imagination and box size.

  • Set aside a shelf in the closet for old sheets or bed coverings that the kids can take outdoors. You might also want to put some clothespins and heavy twine in a bin on the same shelf.  Then when the hot summer days discourage heavy exercise, building a backyard getaway using blankets attached to trees or shrubs is an awesome way for kids to utilize their creative building skills. Once the blankets are in place a shady haven will be created for your children to sit and read or play fun card games. And don’t forget that an icy glass of lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to this activity.
  • Peruse garage sales or thrift stores for illustrated books of the night skies and place them in a kid-accessible spot. Then pop some popcorn and head out to the backyard when the stars come out. Don’t forget to have the kids drag out one of the blankets designated for outdoor use, along with the illustrated books and then turn them loose searching for constellations.

Don’t forget to include simple instructions on the list if your kids don’t know how to play these games. Now your kids can have an old-fashioned good time just by checking the list for ideas.

  • Put together a special craft box for rainy days. As much as we’d like endless sunny days over the summer, it’s inevitable that a little rain will fall from time to time. By having a craft box set up and ready you won’t have to hear the dreaded phrase, “There’s nothing to do!” even once all summer long. Here are a few suggestions for your craft box:
    • Notebooks
    • Sketch pads
    • Pencils
    • Scissors
    • Crayons
    • Markers
    • Glue
    • Construction paper
    • String or yarn
    • Old magazines
    • Sequins
    • Beads
    • Tracing paper

Your list can go on and on. The point here is to provide your child with enough materials to start his creative juices flowing. Be sure to make the box lightweight enough for your child to haul it to a desk or table where he can work freely while watching the rain come down outdoors.

So there you have a concise list of things you can do to help your child have a fun-filled summer. Each of these suggestions assures that the stage is set for your child to have options to choose from without having to ask you for ideas of things to do. Once you have your own special jump start ideas set up for your family, pour a glass of lemonade for your child and yourself and propose a toast to fun. After all, it’s all child’s play!

Cathie

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