How to Plan a Safe and Fun Summer With COVID-19 Guidelines
Summer 2020 is upon us, and parents around the country are trying to figure out how to entertain their children with so many camps and day programs no longer available. As a parent of a child with special needs, you likely have even more concerns than other parents about how to keep your child entertained – and safe!
Here at Parenting Special Needs Kids, we want to help you create a meaningful, safe, and fun summer – with little expense and stress. To accomplish that task, we have scoured the internet, reading article after article, so you don’t have to. We have chosen the best options, to help you turn your home into a day camp, your backyard into an outdoor exploration zone, and your city into an exciting staycation destination. We are starting out with Summer Camp – Parent Style below. Keep an eye out on our website for Part 2 of this guide, featuring staycation, backyard, TV, and video fun.
This guide is filled with meaningful activities, exciting projects, new ideas, and ways to incorporate your child’s special abilities into fun adventures.
Summer Camp – Parent Style
Summer camps plan their days, weeks, and entire sessions right down to the minute. They feature activities such as arts and crafts, swimming, field trips, dancing, movies, cooking, sports, acting, music, and quiet time. You can easily incorporate all the same aspects of summer camp into your daily routine, starting with creating “camp” t-shirts for you and your children to wear. Think of a fun name and logo for your camp and get ready for an exciting summer.
Here are some activities to incorporate into your camp days:
Arts and Crafts
Think of projects that do double duty, such as making sock or paper bag puppets that you can later use to put on a puppet show. Your child can help write the script if he or she is able, or you can put on the show for them. Other art projects can include:
- Finger Painting (outside is less messy) – you can also try sponge painting, and even whipped cream finger painting (edible fun).
- Tinfoil Shapes – create animals, shapes, buildings, numbers, letters out of tinfoil – this is a fun activity for any age, and one that is great for dexterity and creativity.
- Sidewalk Art – get some colored chalk and create individual masterpieces or try to recreate characters, animals, and scenery from photos (for those who cannot sit on the floor, you can tape poster board on a wall).
- Torn Paper Art – let your child help tear up all types of paper (use different textures for added sensory feel) and then create pictures with the paper shreds. Great for motor skills and strength enhancement.
- Leaf Art – use the nature walk from the next section to gather leaves to use to create art masterpieces.
Create and use instruments at home for a fun daily sing or dance activity – you can even have a daily parade around your neighborhood. One of the great features of making your own instruments is that it begins as an art project and transitions to music and dance activities.
- Fill empty toilet paper roll or paper towel rolls with buttons, dried peas, beans, or rice. Glue a sturdy fabric onto one end, fill the rolls with different amounts (for different sounds), then glue fabric around the open end to seal. An even easier option is to do this with empty plastic containers.
- Use blank or old CDs as cymbals
- Cereal Box Guitar – cut a hole out of the front of a cereal box and string some rubber bands around the outside. You can also do this with a shoebox or metal loaf pan – do not use glass to avoid accidents.
- Kazoo – save some empty toilet paper rolls, have the kids paint them and let dry (arts and crafts), secure wax paper around one end with a rubber band and then they can hum or sing into the open end.
Swimming and Water Activities
Aquatic therapy can help increase muscle strength, dexterity, circulation, and its lots of fun. If you do not have access to a pool, you may be able to purchase one for your backyard or driveway. Even a small inflatable pool can help with cooling off, bubble blowing skills, and fun. Water slip n’ slides, running through sprinklers, or even sitting in the sprinklers line of movement can be fun for those who have limited mobility.
- Water balloon toss – filling and then tossing water balloons is a great way to increase motor dexterity and cool off when the balloons pop.
- Sponge toss – same as balloons, only using soaked sponges. You can also toss them into cups, bowls, or other objects for a fun game.
- If you have pool access, water exercises offer low-impact ways to strengthen and loosen the muscles. Water activities are also excellent for those with vision impairments.
At Home Archeology
Create a natural dig site in your backyard or on your patio. You can use a large bin filled with dirt, sand, pebbles, or dried beans. Hide shells, gems, and other fun items for your child to dig for with a shovel or spoon.
Have your child practice taking photos outdoors, then edit and print them on your home computer. This is an excellent activity for children with AD/HD or those who like to focus on a task for an extended time.
Turn your backyard into a sports field, complete with obstacle courses made from objects in your home. You can design the course to meet your child’s abilities. American Ninja Warrior even offers a competition set for slightly more than $60, which includes dozens of different course layouts for a summer of safe fun.
- Order inexpensive badminton sets, frisbees, balls, jump ropes, and other sports equipment online to keep everyone active outside.
- Indoor sports can include a balloon toss (fun to do while seated), door pong, indoor golf putting set, indoor bowling, and even a Skee ball arcade game. Put on some yoga or other exercise videos to help everyone keep in shape while having fun.
You can find some exciting and safe field trip ideas coming soon to our website in Part 2 of this handy guide.
Summer Safety Tips
The following tips will help you have a safe, fun summer:
- Remember to apply sunscreen, even if you are wearing a mask. We also recommend bringing a few extra masks with you on your excursions outside the home.
- Always wash hands with antibacterial soap and water before eating or after touching surfaces outside of your home.
- Keep an eye on the coronavirus numbers in your city. If they are high or on the rise, stay home. If they are low, you can consider venturing out more often – remembering to wear masks and social distancing.
Your city may offer special programs this summer, so be sure to check the resources where you live.