There are a variety of fun events children can attend during summer vacation, many of them free. A great number of parents are unaware these events are free or that they even exist. This is because not all of them are are always listed on events calendars. They also aren't always what parents may think about when considering free summer events and activities for kids.
Free Summer Concerts
Many cities have free concerts, especially during the summer. Parks, town squares, and even libraries will often be the location for these. To check listings for free concerts in your city, visit your city's official web site, check the local newspaper, and check at the library for fliers or schedules. Oftentimes free concerts are geared toward children and the ones that aren't may even be G-rated and enjoyable for all ages. These will keep kids busy singing and dancing along. Since most will be in parks or children's libraries, kids can feel free to just be kids.
Free Summer Workshops
Many retail stores and museums hold free or low-cost workshops, even for kids. Topics may include DIY home improvement projects, history, nature conservation, safety tips, art, crafts, and many more. Workshops are generally interactive, keeping the kids busy making or learning about something. To find out about these workshops call and check the websites of local museums, home improvement stores, nature conservancies, zoos, craft stores, and anywhere else you can think of. These aren't always filed under events listings.
Zoo Free Days
Zoo free days are an exciting event for kids and their parents. The kids receive entertainment and the parents will love the small impact on the summer fun budget. To save even more, bring along your own sack lunch. At the zoo, kids can learn about animals and have fun watching them. An interesting time to go is feeding time for certain animals, so keep that in mind. This is when certain animals and their trainers will be busy putting on shows for the audience. Also, check to see if there are any animals in the nursery. If so, there may be some accompanying educational info for the kids.
Museum Free Days
Like free zoo days in the summer, parents and kids alike will find this worthwhile. Keep in mind that even though admission and permanent museum exhibits will be free, there may be charges for special exhibits or shows. Some parents may choose to avoid those on free day, yet others will just be glad to save the general admission. If you kids especially enjoy the museum or it's beneficial to various studies, you might consider purchasing a yearly membership. These generally pay for themselves after just a few visits.
Most cities have some type of parade, even small ones. If no main parades are scheduled for the summer, check with museums, art galleries, theaters, and other organizations. Sometimes they hold small parades that the kids would enjoy. Most kids are amazed at watching horses, dancers, floats, and anything else parade past them down the street.
Factory, Warehouse, Orchard, and Farm Tours
Just about every area seems to have at least one factory or manufacturing plant of some kind. Children love the excitement of learning how things work behind the scenes. Try food factories, farms, orchards, product assembly warehouses, and more. Most manufacturing companies have some type of tour and many are free.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Why is My Child's Room so Messy?
Johnny is sitting in a big pile of assorted toys and books for the fifth time today. As soon as you pick up everything, it seems it's right back on the floor. You may often find yourself asking "Why is my child's room so messy?" Does a messy room make you a failure? No. Does it mean your child is a misfit? No. All it means is you have something to work on together. As a mother to four who has dealt with this a time or two - or a thousand - what I have learned along the way might help you too.
Is your child's room messy, due to lack of organization? If there are several toys and items that don;t really have an exact spot or are mixed up with others, your child may simply be confused. A lack of structure in the way the room is set up can lead to a child feeling discouraged and indecisive during clean-up time. Set up an organizational system that your child can easily follow. Labeling containers with pictures and words for each type of item is helpful for younger children. Older children should be allowed to set up their organization system themselves.
Can your children tell where things go in their room? This falls in line with the organizational system, as well as brings up another factor. If there is a designated clean-up spot for everything, it makes it less daunting. You know how you feel when you see that big pile of stuff. Imagine that same feeling from a child's perspective. Not having an organizational plan can stress kids further because not only do they have to pick up everything, they have to find a spot for it too.
Has your child been taught about value? Perhaps your kids throw things on the floor because they don't understand about value. If you buy them toys, books, clothing, and other items too often, those things no longer have value. It just becomes the normal thing to do. Thus, the items are just something that can be tossed around and replaced regularly. Set limits on the number of items you purchase, how much you spend, and more. Be sure the kids know these limits and are allowed to observe not only the spending part, but the earning process it takes to get the amount needed for each of their items.
Is your cleaning routine too drab? Perhaps your kids don't want to clean because it's too much of a chore. Just because it has to be done doesn't mean it can't be fun. Put on some music and dance the room clean. Give the kids each a reusable grocery bag or a kid's shopping cart, have them fill it up with items, and race to put them away. A creative and fun game will get their attention faster than screaming in frustration. It will also save you and the kids from further stress.
Is there more stuff than space to put it in? If your child has more toys than places to keep them, the problem is not your child being messy. The problem is too much stuff. What do you expect him to do with it if there's nowhere to put it? This calls for a sort and donate situation. You and your child can discuss kids that don't have enough toys to play with and how there is too much in his room. Together, go through the items and decide how much to keep, based on room to store it.
When you go out in the sun with your kids, are they protected from the harmful UVA and UVB rays? Are you absolutely sure? Everyone, even those who do not burn or those with darker skin tones need sun protection. This includes the appropriate sunscreen. But summer sun protection for kids goes beyond sunscreen alone. As an experienced mom and former nanny, I've learned a great deal about sun protection over the years.
What Time is it?
Watch the clock and go outside only during certain hours. Avoiding the sun altogether is one of the simplest ways to increase sun protection in children. Try to take the kids to the playground or other outings in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is not so glaring. Other sun protection is still necessary during these hours, but the sun's rays will not be as intense.
Made in the Shade
If you simply cannot avoid being outside during peak sunlight hours, keep the kids in the shade. Under a tree in the park is one good spot. If there are no good shade trees, try an umbrella. Larger umbrellas offer the most protection for the most people. A sun shade on a baby stroller or carrier can make all the difference for the little ones. The goal is simply to keep the kids in the shade as much as possible.
Watch the Gear
Using protective clothing to cover up the skin is actually the best defense from the sun, even more effective than sunscreen when done correctly. In fact, an EWG report states that most suncreen and sunblock products on the market can actually do more harm than good. Some may even cause cancer. When shopping for protective clothing, look for 100% organic cotton with a tight weave. Try to cover as many areas of the body as possible. A brimmed hat with at least 3 inches of brim space is needed to shade the eyes and face.
Hide those Eyes
Along with the hat mentioned above, protect those eyes. Kids need to wear sunglasses with at least 99% protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun. This does not necessarily mean you need to spend a fortune on sunglasses for your kids. Even low cost sunglasses can do the trick. As long as the label states between 99 - 100% UV protection, you have chosen the right pair.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Tired of your teen sitting at the computer screen all day? While there is no problem with getting some tech time in, your teen should also be exploring things often. My teens and I naturally explore something just about every day. Together, we have become experts on the natural areas we have access to. Enhancing exploration skills in teens helps contribute to problem-solving skills needed throughout life. It also keeps the mind active and can be soothing to the soul. Even if your teen isn't open to the idea at first, you'll likely see her grow into it sooner than you think.
Make the outdoors a part of every day. Spending lots of time outside helps foster imagination skills, which often leads to exploring. Make sure your teen goes outdoors often, preferably every day. Mock treasure hunts and geocaching can make it interesting and help hone important exploration skills. They don't necessarily need to be on a quest every time. Even playing sports, reading a book, or painting a picture outside will help. My teens love to be outside more than in and that's probably mostly due to the fact that being outside is natural in our family.
Take nature walks and hikes often. You may think your teen will not agree to this activity. But teens naturally need to exert energy and explore. This allows for both. They may groan at first, but many teens will likely get more into this once they try it. For motivation, try giving them a camera to snap photos along the way. You can also set specific goals to accomplish. For instance, you can ask your teen to spot specific plants or animals, overcome certain obstacles, or walk a specific distance. When distance is a factor, be sure to increase difficulty. When we first started walking the trails, a mile or so was the goal. Now it is not unusual for my teens and I to walk several times that distance when we take to the trails.
Send them to camp. Many camps, be they daytime or extended stay, offer adventurous activities. Do your research and find one that offers many chances to explore. Camps that are located among nature scenes are the best option for this. For instance, a camp located in the mountains is probably going to be more adventurous on a daily basis than one located in the middle of the city. But don't let them fool you. Make sure that their activities and itinerary line up with what your teen is looking for in terms of exploration.
Visit archaeological sites. We currently live in a state where dinosaurs used to roam freely. Because of this, there are places not far from our house that have live archaeological dig sites. Some of them allow kids to participate in the excavation. If you don't have a dig site near you, you can create mock ones in your backyard. While the real deal is better, teens will enjoy and learn exploration via the mock site as well. If you are creating a mock site, you can change the subject often. For instance, some themes may be Native American artifacts, Egyptian tombs, or '"lost cities."
Go on mountain adventures. Panning for gold is just one of the many exciting adventures that can happen in the mountains. The winding trails can be exciting as well. Skiing, camping, hiking, water rafting, and biking are all activities suitable for adventures in the mountains with teens. The mountains hold many adventures and mysteries just waiting for you and your teen to discover.
Are your tweens bored during family outings and activities? Perhaps you just need to switch things up and try something new. You don't necessarily have to spend too much money on fancy gadgets. In fact, that could distract them from family fun. To keep the tweens from being bored, our family is always trying something new. Here are some of the all-time favorites that have passed the 'tween fun' test.
Turn walking into an adventure. Asking your tweens to go on a walk may bore them. But only if you make it seem like a chore. Instead, turn it into an exploration. Take a walk on neighborhood trails and bring along specimen containers and other investigative tools. A note pad is great for drawing observations and writing down interesting discoveries and theories. A magnifying glass can help when inspecting insects, leaves, animal tracks, and more. Binoculars are useful when watching birds and other creatures at a distance.
Flash back to when all we used was imagination. Today's tweens are often so into technology that some rarely use their imaginations. Think back to those fun little games you played, such as Telephone, telling ghost stories, Truth or Dare, and more. Remember all the fun you had playing these games with friends and family? Play them with your family and if your tween has her won ideas or variations, go along with them. These games are not just a good source of entertainment. They can also help bring families closer through the power of laughter. The best part is that they can usually be adapted to fit all age ranges. This is an important aspect in a large family like ours.
Scavenger hunts are cheap, easy, and entertaining. It doesn't take strenuous planning to set up a scavenger hunt. But the resulting fun and memories are priceless. Create a list of items for each child to find in the backyard or area park. These should be easy things to find in nature, such as a dried leaf, a fallen twig, or a rock. Your tweens (and even the younger kids) can be given a reusable grocery bag for collection purposes. It's up to you whether to make it a competition and award prizes or just let the kids go to it finding the items. If you want to mix things up even more, instead of the list, give the kids a treasure map or one clue at a time as each item is found.
Tweens and music go hand-in-hand. Turn up the music and have a family dance session. But don;t play just your music. Let the tweens choose music as well. I know, I know, some of their choices will be worse than nails on a chalkboard - at least to your ears. Save the complaints about it for another time and just enjoy the time with your kids. Understanding the music your tweens listen to can help you understand them more as well. The kids might even be able to teach you a new dance. You know they will feel you need the lessons.
Wacky sports can be a big hit with tweens. Have you ever tried blending sports together? For instance, try playing soccer or basketball while skating. Invent your own sports by mixing up and combining two or more sports with each other. Safety first, of course, but other than that, be creative. Water Balloon Golf is one of the more interesting combination games my kids and I enjoy playing together. This one is best played on warmer days. If it's a good day for swimming, then it's a good day for this golf variation.
"Ugh, you have got to be kidding! Please don't make me eat that!" Teenagers can be some of the pickiest eaters on the planet. But are they really being picky or are they just exercising their newly discovered freedoms? For some, it might actually be both. So, how do you get teens to eat healthier foods? As a mom with a full house, it's tricky finding things everyone will agree on, including toddlers and teens - two of the pickiest age groups, in my experience. If you want to increase healthy eating habits in teens, you'll likely need to make some adjustments.
Pack interesting, yet healthy lunches. If you pack your teen a lunch that contains her least favorite veggies, expect her to toss or trade it. This may mean she ends up with vending machine goodies or fast food. Neither is likely to be a healthy choice. Instead, always pack her favorite fruits, grains, veggies, and more. Use tasty, but healthy sides and dips to accent the main course. Opt for fat free ranch dressing if your teen likes to dip his veggies. Use fat free yogurt as a fruit dip. Spreadable fruit is a healthier option than jellies and jams. Let her choose from a list of suggested items. This helps ensure she likes what she is eating. Remember to have her pick options from each food group to keep the meals balanced.
Always have healthy snacks in plain view. Leave sliced fruits, veggies, and healthy dips out on the counter near snack times. Teens are likely to grab and much if something is right there. Unsalted mixed nuts, carob chips, low-fat cheese and whole grain crackers, and dried fruits are also easy and tempting. If you leave out snacks like this, your teens may not even think about the other stuff that's unhealthy. They'll already be full from the healthy options. After a while, they can become so accustomed to this, that similar healthy eating options may be second nature.
Don't have unhealthy options around. If access to unhealthy choices is unavailable, teens are more likely to choose healthy eating habits. In this case, they may be doing it because they have no other choice. But it also can create a subconscious pattern that stays with them. If they aren't accustomed to unhealthy foods, they are less likely to crave them. You can't control what is available at their friend's houses. But creating a habit consisting of mainly nutritious options assists in developing healthy eating habits for life.
Talk about your own struggles. You may think your teens aren't listening and they may roll their eyes at you when you tell them certain things. But they definitely hear you and they listen more than you think they do. They just may not want you to know that information. Tell your teens about the mistakes you made as a teen regarding healthy eating habits. Explain how you solved those issues and the differences that occurred because of the lifestyle changes.
Watch movies surrounding nutrition issues. Sometimes teens may need to see the damages unhealthy eating can cause. Scientific videos, as well as dramatic life stories are helpful in this area. Both the technical and lifestyle aspect are needed to illustrate the point fully. When your teen sees the impact that healthy eating habits can make on his life as a whole, it will become easier to make positive choices.
Teaching your teen about healthy eating habits is not always about lecturing. It's ore about proactive consistency and allowing the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Talk to your teen's doctor about proper dietary habits.
When children are faced with bedwetting, it's important that they still feel good about themselves. Bedwetting is a natural occurrence and is something most children will eventually grow out of. As a parent and role model, you should be positive about your child's bedwetting to make him or her feel secure. Being positive means taking healthy steps toward resolving the issue and also having a positive attitude about the situation.
Avoid negative reactions. Getting frustrated with your child about bedwetting is unnecessary and may worsen the situation. The wrong reaction can lower a child's self-esteem. Never punish your child for wetting the bed. Remember that your child cannot control bedwetting and is not misbehaving. Instead of disciplining your child, give rewards whenever he or she achieves a dry night.
Use protective undergarments. The use of protective undergarments helps children feel secure when dealing with bedwetting. It prevents their clothes from getting soiled, thus allowing them to avoid uncomfortable or embarrassing situations. Bedwetting diapers can be bulky and feel more like a punishment than a preventative measure. Try a product like Pampers UnderJams. They are designed to look and feel like regular underwear, except that they absorb moisture. This way, if your child wants to attend a sleepover, he or she will feel comfortable and secure wearing the undetectable UnderJams, even away from home. Talk to your child about products like Pampers UnderJams, but don't call them "diapers." Explain to your child they are absorbent underwear and not like the diapers they wore when they were younger.
Provide easy restroom access. If the restroom is close to where the child sleeps, it can help deter certain bedwetting issues. On the other hand, if the bathroom is not easily accessible, it may be difficult for the child to get there on time, especially in the middle of the night. There should always be a clear path from your child's room to the bathroom, without things like toys and furniture in the way. Reward your child whenever he or she wakes up in the middle of the night to use the restroom in order to reinforce this behavior.
Reassure your child. Be understanding and reassuring to help your child feel comfortable. Your reassurance helps to build and maintain your son or daughter's self-confidence. One of the best ways to be positive about bedwetting is to tell your child that wetting the bed is perfectly normal. Remind your child that you are very proud of him or her for staying dry during the day. Let your child know that bedwetting is just a phase, and that very soon, he or she will grow out of it and will wake up to a dry bed every time.
Encourage evening bathroom trips. Be sure your child uses the restroom frequently during the day. Even more importantly, have your child make a bathroom trip right before bed. Do so even if he or she just went to the restroom 30 minutes ago. A pre-bedtime bathroom trip will help to ensure that the child's bladder is empty before bed and will reduce the frequency of bedwetting incidents. Encourage your child whenever he or she successfully urinates right before bed.
Has your tween been shouting out cheers or watching a large number of cheerleading shows or movies? He or she may be interested in becoming a cheerleader. Perhaps it's even been expressed to you. Is cheerleading appropriate for tweens? Should you let your tween join a cheerleader squad? On top of deciding whether your tween wants to cheer on sports teams, participate in cheerleading competitions, or do non-competitive cheering, there are many other factors to consider.
Why does your tween want to be a cheerleader? It's important to allow kids the freedom to express their interests. But before giving an affirmative answer, be sure your tween's head is in the right place. Does your son or daughter want to be on the squad for the activity or athleticism or is it seen as a way to attract the opposite sex? It's natural for kids to develop interest for the opposite sex at this age. However, that should not be the only reason your tween is interested in becoming a cheerleader. Talk to your tween and figure out all of the reasons he or she is interested in becoming a cheerleader. Be sure it is really what they want to do before they make the commitment.
Can you afford or raise the associated costs? This kind of activity can really put a dent in the wallet. There are tryouts, uniforms, classes, road trips, and more that all require fees. Before getting your tween involved, be sure that you can pay the associated fees. If you cannot pay them, there may be fund raising or sponsorship opportunities. Either way, be sure these costs will be covered. Otherwise, you will potentially be setting your tween up for disappoint later when something comes along that you cannot pay for.
Cheerleading is a big commitment. Does your tween know what's involved in being a member of the squad? Some responsibilities will vary, depending on the type of cheerleading squad your tween wants to join. However, they will all involve committing to certain practice dates and doing extra practice at home. Some may involve traveling and taking extra classes for cheer routines, dance, and gymnastics. There is more to being a cheerleader than just rooting on a team. It is a very athletic activity that can get very involved. Is your tween ready for this type of commitment?
Does your tween have the talent or the dedication to learn? Existing talent is a real plus when it comes to cheerleading. However, your tween can also take classes and practice to learn and grow in the sport. Make sure he or she is ready to do what it takes to succeed. If your tween does not want to compete but enjoys the activity, many locales have non-competitive cheerleader squads as well. Your tween will still need to be committed to the team. However, there won;t be as much pressure to outperform another team.
Can you provide the transportation? This may seem a small factor in the grand scheme of things. However, depending on the type of cheerleading, practices, games, and events can be in various places. Are you willing to get your tween to these meetings and events, even when they are far away? If you know that you cannot do this, for whatever reason, you will need to find alternate transportation or work with your tween to find an alternative activity.
Most parents want to give their child freedom to explore the things they are interested in. But in addition to bringing a smile to their faces, we also have to think practically as well. When deciding whether your tween should join a cheerleader squad, weigh all of the factors together before making the commitment.
*Always consult a licensed physician before enrolling your child in any athletic activity.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
It's hot outside, but the kids are bored with nothing to do. As a mom and former nanny, I've had to be creative in similar situations numerous times. Playing some sports can quickly make the kids even more hot and tired - and cranky too. Not fun at all! One way to solve that problem is to add a variation to the sports that allows for some cooling off. Water Balloon Golf can keep the kids busy for a while without the summer sun ruining the fun. This is basically a more active version of golf.
children's golf clubs, tees, and balls (enough for all kids who will play)
small plastic cups
Before game play, someone will need to set up the golf course. This can easily be done in the backyard or at a local park. Map out the course and dig a hole the size of the cup bottoms for each golf-ball hole. Stick the cups into the holes. If this is done at a local park, you will need plastic holes for the golf balls, instead of the garden spade and cups. This is just because you don't want to be digging up property that isn't yours.
How to Play Water Balloon Golf
This game of golf is played almost the same as a regular game of golf or miniature golf, depending on preference and skill level of the kids. Each kid needs to have a golf club and ball. It helps if each child has a particular color ball and all colors are different. This way there are no disagreements over which belongs to whom. You also may wish to take a permanent marker or strip of tape and use it to mark each golf club. If possible, match the tees to the balls as well. This helps avoid some of the arguments.
Once the kids are all setup, the first player can start by hitting his or her ball to make an attempt at the first hole. Anytime the player does not get a hole-in-one, someone will throw a water balloon at that player. The player can choose to run to try to avoid it, but if it's extra hot outside, they may readily welcome it. Only one balloon is allowed for each try by a player. If the water balloon lands on the ground without breaking, the player can pick it up and throw it at someone else. This can be repeated until the balloon breaks open.
Also, if that player misses the hole-in-one, once the balloon throwing is finished, it is the next player's turn. Game play continues until each player has completed the golf course. Be sure to have enough water balloons to allow for several missed tries for each player. If there are extra water balloons after the kids play Water balloon Golf, the kids can continue throwing water balloons at each each other.
*Remember to tell kids not to throw too hard and also not to throw at faces or deliberately try to hurt each other.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans network. She is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! Running a network of websites, tackling deadlines single-handedly, and coaching fellow writers, brands, & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is her top priority.
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