Summertime Family Fun
Summertime Family Fun
We have all heard the saying, “a family that plays together, stays together” and there is no better time than now to promote family “togetherness”. There is no doubt that children need structure and routine, but we might forget that they also need time to play and to let their spirits soar! With spring in full swing, and summer just around the corner, getting your child outside and active is an excellent way to create new and exciting opportunities for family fun. Playing together form s lasting memories for children, encourages communication within the family, provides a sense of togetherness and is a key factor in promoting a healthy self-image and increased self-esteem. Yet, families may struggle to find time to play together and members can be easily distracted by technology, stress from work, and daily chores, that they forget that summer begs us to enjoy her lazy hazy days – together! This summer, turn off the TV, put your phone away, and get outside to play! Here are a few ideas for a summertime of family fun:
Water has the unique ability to make anyone feel silly. Its inviting temperature cools our bodies and water play sparks our imaginations. Whether we run through a sprinkler, have a water balloon toss, or set pirate ships afloat, water invokes the sounds of laughter and there is no better time than a warm summer afternoon, to enjoy its special qualities:
All types of water play are great sensory experiences for children of all abilities. If you do not have access to a pool or lake, families can fill any large container with water to use for cool-down games. One of our favorite games to play in the summer is called “splish-splish-SPLASH”. This game is played with the same rules as “duck-duck-goose”, but instead of saying “goose” to choose the next person, you dump a small cup of water on their head!
Swimming has always been a memorable activity for children and can be especially therapeutic for children with physical disabilities. In water, children develop muscle strength, physical endurance, increased flexibility and self-control and for a child with a physical disability, water may be the only place where he/she can feel confident and purposeful with his/her movements. Bring water balls, floats and other water toys to enjoy swimming together and promote a sense of togetherness. Encouraging your child to swim is a great way to express praise for his/her great achievements and can lead to an afternoon of laughter and fun.
Playing with Orbeez water beads can also be a great way for your family to cool down this summer. Simply fill a small pool or large bin with these slippery beads and enjoy a sensory experience!
Camping outdoors provides ample opportunities for family fun. We get to experience nature together, go hiking, tell ghost stories and roast marshmallows by the fire. The processes involved in setting up camp, making a fire or cooking food all involve executive functioning, cooperation and communication. What a great way for your family to work as a team! Camping gives your whole family the chance to experience all the sounds, sights, smells and texture of the great outdoors. Don’t have access to a campground? Create your own! Whether in your living room, on your deck, or in your own backyard, families can experience the joys of camping with a few blankets, flashlights and great imaginations. Sing campfire songs or create your own campfire stories with each family member adding a consecutive sentence or two, to create your family’s own version of campfire memories.
Baseball is the great American past time and even if you or your family are not fanatics, just going to see a live game is a great family experience. At baseball games we do not just sit and watch the game; fans eat, drink and sing songs with their families and friends. There are usually carnival-style games and other attractions at ball games and on some evenings you may even be treated to a fireworks display. Research not only major league games, but also minor league options, as these games often offer grassy accessible areas and promote the space for families and children of all abilities to enjoy.
The great thing about obstacle courses is that we do not need much more than our imaginations to make them, especially when we are outdoors. Try building a short obstacle course with your family in which each member chooses one obstacle to set up. “Obstacles” can be almost any object – a bike, a Frizbee, or a planter. Or, use sidewalk chalk to draw your own obstacles. After creating your course, take turns challenging family members to complete the course independently. Increase the challenge by hopping on one leg or with your hands behind your back or create a blindfold challenge by breaking into teams. Members on each team are then required to verbally direct teammates through the course, creating a great opportunity to practice communication skills.
Theatre in the Park
Whether the actors are live or on screen, many park districts promote “Evenings in the Park”. Here, families are able to enjoy performing arts or music while engaging in a relaxed atmosphere. Pack a picnic and some bubbles and bring a ball to toss around while waiting for the performance to start. If the performance is a show or movie that the family knows, encourage members to dress up as favorite characters and recite memorable lines. After the show is over, allow yourself to linger under the stars as you make wishes for more summertime family fun.
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2017 Magazine