Make Summer Break Fun for the Kids Without Breaking the Bank
Ah, the Philippine summer—trips to the countryside replete with palm trees, to our very own sugar sand beaches, to our grandparents’ nostalgic towns. Summer is indeed our most awaited time of the year for enjoying the great outdoors. But for the young ones, summer break is two months long, and although they waited for it to come after toiling in school for a good 10 months, it doesn’t take long for human nature to sink in. Weeks in and the summer break becomes boring for the kids—lying in bed all day as if the house doesn’t feel like an oven. The bills start to skyrocket as they bathe more than usual to beat the heat or use the computer all day without breaks.
It may get hard to come up with new ideas to keep them busy. Would you spend a ton of cash at a crowded resort or bring the fun indoors and save money at the same time instead? Here are ideas anytime you need something different to keep kids busy during their summer break!
Indoor Summer Break Fun for the Kids
Experts say boredom is essential for learning creativity, but boredom also often leads to other forms of mischief. Here are suggestions for fun activities that you can do at home.
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Now is the time to teach them responsibility with a chore chart. This could include daily chores like making their beds, feeding the family pet, etc. Or you could step up your game a notch with commission-based paid chores, like watering the plants for 5 pesos a day. It’s a great way to teach kids responsibility and help them start managing their own money.
You don’t need to drive to camping grounds for this. If you have a tent, set it up in the backyard and sleep outdoors with your kids. You can also let them play in the tent during the day, as long as you don’t forget to pack up on the mosquito repellents. They could turn the tent into a fort, a spaceship, or anything else they imagine.
Grab the couch cushions, pillows from the beds, and kitchen chairs and make an obstacle course through the house. Kids get a huge kick out of the novelty of using common items in new ways and it’s great for gross motor development.
Print out pictures of common items, cut them out from a magazine, or draw them yourself, then set your kids on the hunt! Hide some cool little toys or healthy treats around the house, along with some little clues to help the kids. Give them a list of what they’re looking for and get them searching high and low for treasure. You can even set up rewards based on how much treasure each kid finds.
Board games and card games
Classics like Snake and Ladders, Millionaires Game, and UNO are only a few better ways to while away an afternoon with siblings. Young kids learn cooperation, sportsmanship (we hope!), and taking turns; and older kids can gain critical thinking skills. Board games can also be done out on the front yard! They will only need chalk or tape to create their very own life-size board game, where they act as the pegs themselves and decide what obstacles, themes, and rules to throw in.
Summertime means bugs and lots of them. Teach your kids to care for bugs, and let them learn a bit about science in the process by building a bug maze. It’s relatively easy to make. All you need is a medium-sized box, Popsicle sticks, toilet paper tubes, tape or hot glue, and some paint if you choose to decorate the maze. Start by painting the Popsicle sticks different colors (again, this step is optional). Create a maze within the box by putting the sticks on their sides and securing them to the bottom of the box with the tape or hot glue gun. Use the cardboard tubes to create tunnels for added interest.
Next, send your kids out to carefully collect some bugs (caterpillars and beetles work well for this activity). Use this time to teach your kids about being gentle with the bugs, and show them how to handle the bugs carefully so they don’t get hurt.
Gather several small to mid-sized rocks and let your kids draw on them with paint or fine-tipped markers. Higher-quality markers (like colored Sharpies) will work better for this particular project. There are dozens of different ways to paint rocks; you can see a comprehensive list of ideas at Mama in the Now. One fun approach is to paint facial features on each rock. Paint several different types of eyes, noses, and mouths on several rocks, with each rock containing one feature. Then encourage your children to mix and match the rocks to create various funny faces.
Forts and stories
The possibilities are endless! Give your child an empty box, some old sheets, rubber puzzle mats, pillows, and random items you think they can use to build a fort and let their imagination run wild. We guarantee this will keep them busy for hours. When you get home from work in the evening, you can join in the fun and hang fairy lights to their fort. By bedtime, get your flashlights and tell them stories. Instead of the usual stories about damsels in distress in Western fairy tales, encourage love for our own culture and identity by telling them about our strong queens and princesses, local fairy tales, and ancient legends. One such interesting story is the story of the bakunawa, the serpent that eats moons, so they can play buwan-buwan the next morning! (Speaking of which, here are tribal games they can play.)
Get your little ones excited to cook or bake by having them choose a recipe that appeals to them, and let them take the lead. You may even spark an interest for a future career as a chef! Challenge them by looking through cookbook recipes with ingredients that can mostly be found in your home. Stick with simple recipes like cookies and muffins, and it can be a lot of fun, not to mention educational. Kids learn about measuring and mixing and also work on gross motor function by stirring and sifting. This may need your supervision, so do this on weekends.
Get kids out of the house and into a healthy pastime with gardening in your backyard. There are a lot of easy-to-grow herbs and plants aside from the usual monggo. Try lettuce, onions, tomatoes, garlic, mint, and peppers. Check this out for tips. Give them some autonomy over this project to really let them get involved. They should be able to help choose the garden layout. But they should also be responsible for weeding, watering, and other garden maintenance. This is a great skill-building activity that can make them proud when they reap what they sow and eat the fruits of their labor. It also encourages appreciation for nature and our country’s hardworking farmers.
If you want to keep your kids really busy this summer break, get them thinking about how to earn, save, and invest money. Young kids can plan for a garage sale late in the summer by sorting through clothes they outgrew and toys they no longer need. “Ice candy,” halo-halo, and fruit shakes are also some of the small businesses that thrive during our summer. Or if they learned to love baking, you can include cookies and puto too.
The saranggola/tabanog never gets old! It’s a wholesome family activity, and as Asians, it is part of our culture and tradition. Manang tinderas sell cheap kites in the streets during summer break, so buy one for each of your kids and one for your own. Better yet, teach your kids how to make their own kites! Let them be as creative as possible in the process. Load up on the sunscreen for a trip to a wide open field, then teach them how to do it!
Your kids might need an activity with more movement to get their excess energy out, but coloring books are a great activity to wind down to the end of the day. Today, local artists have released their own illustrations that kids can color, each with a huge serving of local flavor. You can find cheap ones at National Bookstore. Try Filipino Children’s Book: Learn Counting in Filipino by Coloring, Kulay, or Hoy! A Philippine Islands Activity. There are also downloadable coloring pages online.
A summer break can be an incredible time for children to learn. It even has the potential to shape their lives in very special and unique ways. After all, there’s no other time in life when they’ll have as much freedom and as much energy as they do now. Harnessing both of those things by allowing boredom and structured activities to take place can build character, deepen family bonds, and help create special memories. Don’t forget to take pictures while you have fun! Print them out and create summer break scrapbooks to keep these memories fresh when they’re all grown up.
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