``Summertime ... and the livin' is easy.'' These words in the George Gershwin song from the musical ``Porgy and Bess'' may not be words parents are singing this time of year. Finding activities for children, without spending beyond one's budget, can be a challenge in itself. Here is a collection of activities for children which are creative and educational at the same time.
- Backyard collage -- on a nature walk or cruising the yard gather a variety of leaves, flowers, weeds, sticks, etc. Glue the objects on heavy paper or cardboard.
- Nature paintbrushes -- gather nature objects, for example, leaves, evergreen branches, etc. Tape the leaves to the end of a stick or dowel rod and you have created your own brush for painting.
- Bubble painting -- add food coloring to bubble solution. With wands blow bubbles onto white paper. The colored bubbles will leave prints on the white paper. This paper makes good wrapping paper for special gifts.
- Bubble blowers -- make a variety of bubble blowing tools. Twist together the ends of a long pipe cleaner and shape into a wand. Blow bubbles using an empty berry basket, a can with both ends removed (remember to eliminate any sharp edges), cut the bottom from a plastic yogurt, cottage cheese or margarine container.
- Mystery writings -- scribble, draw or write on white paper with an old white candle or white crayon. Using water color paints, paint over the ``writings.''
- Water painting -- fill an empty paint can with water. Using an old, large paintbrush, paint the sidewalks.
- Ice crystals -- for this activity use a bag of ice or make a block of ice by freezing water in a tub, dish pan, milk jug cut off several inches from the top. Place the block of ice outdoors on the sidewalk. Squirt colored water onto the ice with medicine droppers. Sprinkle table salt or thawing salt onto the ice. Repeat. Watch the melting process and color mixing.
- Parade day -- create musical instruments and have a neighborhood parade. For kazoos, cover one end of a bath tissue tube with waxed paper and secure it with a rubber band. Decorate the tube with crayons or makers, ribbons, paper streamers, etc. For tambourines, place a few beans, rice or small pebbles in a paper plate. Cover with a second paper plate and tape or staple around the edges to close. Decorate with ribbons, crayons or markers, paper scraps, etc.
See Ideas, page 2D
Continued from page 1D
For shakers, use a clean 20-ounce soft drink bottle. Add some small pebbles, beans or rice, pieces of colored paper, bits of ribbon, yarn, etc. Replace bottle lid and secure with tape.
- Sprinkler move/freeze game -- Children move, dance, jump around a rotating lawn sprinkler which is turned OFF. When the person operating the water faucet turns on the water, everyone freezes in a silly position and gets drenched until the water is turned off again. Water off, move around -- water on, freeze!
- Create ``goop'' -- Empty a box of cornstarch in a large tub or on a table. Using a spray bottle filled with plain or colored water, spray the cornstarch to make ``goop.'' Explore in this mixture -- a solid that acts like a liquid, which acts like a solid. This activity is great for outdoors.
- Container gardening -- in a container with soil, plant some of the seeds found in the foods we eat. For example, plant seeds from apples, oranges, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. Water, and watch how they grow.
- Night reading -- read books in the dark with flashlights.
Most important, take time to enjoy these warm, summer days with your children!
--Linda Reimond is arts-based preschool director at the Lawrence Arts Center.