Summer to families means one thing: no school. While the classrooms might be empty, kids are filled to the brim with energy. It might be hard knowing what to do during the long days of the summer sunshine, but we have some ideas that will help make the time fly!
One staple of summertime has been to pack up their clothes and lock up the house for a vacation away from home. However, for parents of kids with disabilities, travel can be hard. Whether it is on an airplane or in a packed up car, the limitations of travel make it an impossible option for some. If you cannot go somewhere else, what options are there for the long summers?
Get ready, because your block is about to get tropical! Instead of a vacation, consider a “staycation” that focuses on the local in “exotic locale.” Here are our play and toy ideas to make your summer “staycation” the most exciting one yet:
Summer is hot. Like, really hot. The Weather Network says, “warmer than normal conditions are expected for much of the country this summer.” Depending on where you live, get your swim trunks, water bottles and sunscreens ready, because nothing cools kids off better on a hot day than a healthy dose of water!
Here are our favorite water toys to help keep things swell in the sweltering temps:
Soapets: This toy is the perfect plush to comfort kids as they get acclimated to the water. This aquatic companion helps kids lather up in the bathtub or outside and makes getting clean fun!
Waboba: These balls are made to be bounced On water, making them ideal to be enjoyed in swimming 4 pools, puddles, bathtubs etc. With a variety of colors and sizes, there is a Waboba out there for everyone!
Spiralin’ Seas Waterpark: This is a water table A that brings the water up to your child’s level, to let them ^ enjoy the wet wonders without a bathing suit.
E-Z Grip Ball: These balls ensure kids get a sure grip no matter how wet their hands are. After all, a game of catch is so much more fun in the water!
Edwin the Duck: Capable of pairing up with a smart device, this duck is good for dips in the water and days inside. Take this smart duck on all your aquatic adventures.
Cups: Popular among kids of all ages, letting kids pick up and pour the water holds a fascination for everyone, and any child approved cup will do!
Sprinklers: The perfect combination of a land and water activity; sprinklers let children run through the water when they want to get wet, and keep out when they want to stay dry.
Slip and Slides: Whether kids slide on their own power, or are pushed along, this summer staple is sure to delight.
The Outdoor Classroom
Classrooms are great…during the school year. Summer should be a chance for kids to learn by exploring the world around them. This could be as simple as walking through a local park or as complex as going on a hike. Many nature centers and national parks have guided tours and discovery zones to help kids learn about the great outdoors through interactive experiences.
With nice weather and the whole world at your fingertips, make sure to take advantage of nature while also thinking about what a child loves to do. A personal park is one that fits to your child’s needs. If they like water, turn on a sprinkler and make your backyard a water park. If they love exploring, scatter hidden toys in a sandbox to let them release their inner Indiana Jones. A personal park can be as simple or as complex as you want, as long as it is accessible and fun for the child it is designed for. Comfort is key with personal parks, so remember that the most comfortable place for a child might be inside. A book nook in the house is a way to make a corner of comfort filled with blankets, books, stuffed animals and toys. In a big house, this book nook can feel like a small personal fort for children to relax in.
No matter the specifics, a summer staycation is something that turns the ordinary into EXTRAordinary! Stay cool this summer with our staycation ideas and we look forward to hearing all about the memories made.
For more play ideas and toys for children with special needs, go to www.ableplay.org. This website was created by the National Lekotek Center to encourage children of all abilities to experience the benefits of play. Find us on Facebook. Reviewed by Hayley Anderson, Manager of Family Services & Partnerships, National Lekotek Center.
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2016 Magazine