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
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.
The Importance of Toddler Shadow Discovery: "I'm Right There - There's Me!" (Activities Included)
"I'm right there! There's me!" Those are the words my son exclaimed as a toddler when he had just discovered his shadow was a mirror image of himself. Making this connection is an important step in a child's life. It shows the ability to distinguish connections between two objects. In this case, he is connecting his shadow to himself. Whether your child has made this distinction or not, it is important to help this discovery along. As an experienced mother, homeschooler, and care provider, I have had plenty of experience as well as study in this subject and others pertaining to childhood development. Below you will see activities for both toddlers who have already discovered their shadows, as well as those who have not. Any of the activities can be done with either group of toddlers. If the lighting is right outdoors, you may do these activities outdoors. If not, just get near a bright light or lamp in the house.
Perhaps the most common shadow game is making shadow puppets from your hands and reflecting them onto the wall or sidewalk. Toddler favorites usually include a bunny, a dinosaur, a dog, a cat, and even people. Draw on your child's interests and be creative. For some toddlers, it may only take the easy talking mouth to entertain them. But, whatever you do, be sure to expose them to a variety of interesting characters and shapes. Depending on your child's coordination and attention span, you may be able to teach him or her how to do these on their own. That's where the game gets even more fun.
When I Move, He Moves, Too!
For this one, all you need to do is show your child that your shadow moves with you. Have the child move as well, showing the child that their own shadow will move when they move as well. Keep the game going by doing funny things and focusing on what the shadow does, too. Some toddlers will play this game for a long time, others will only last for a few minutes. Try to keep it interesting enough to last around 5 to 10 minutes.
In this game you guess it, you'll focus on doing things that make the shadow shorter and taller. You can crouch down and come back up for one idea. Another way to do this is that sometimes when you back up, the shadow grows taller. Doing the reverse will make it shorter again. Experiment with your toddler, remembering to explain about tall and short.
This is similar to taller/shorter, except that with this one, you'll do what you can make the shadow wider and larger. If you are doing it inside, drawing yourself away from the wall and towards the wall can produce results with this. If you're outside, it's a matter of where and how the sun is shining,so experiment to find out what works.
In this activity, you will actually put on a shadow puppet show for the child. It would be like a puppet show, except with shadows instead. To make it even better, all lights can be turned out and the show presenter can get behind a large screen, consisting of a white or light colored sheet. The light source should be coming from behind the screen. Just put on the show like you normally would on the wall, except your hands won't be in the way of the shadow. Be creative and make sure the characters talk and interact with one another.
Favorite Story In Shadow
This is very similar to the shadow show, except you will be actually reading and acting out your child's favorite story. You may need a page turner behind the screen for you, unless you have memorized the story.
Note to parents: The toddler age is an important age of discovery. Doing activities such as those listed above can help your child develop important discovery and learning skills. Be sure to practice discovery and learning skills each day through play and interaction.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Writing and music can both be wonderful outlets for talent as well as feelings. When combined together, it can greatly help kids relieve stress. Plus, it's a fun way to sneak in some writing practice and also to let them use their creativity, imagination, and thinking skills. This is a method I've had success using with my own kids and I hope it helps others as well.
Combating Sibling Rivalry
When siblings are arguing, I find that having them write songs is a great way for them to deal with those feelings. Holding feelings in is no good. But neither is acting them out on each other. Writing a song about it helps the kids relieve tension by getting the feelings out in a more constructive manner. When the kids reread the or sing the lyrics, they may laugh and find what they wrote is not really that bad after all.
Expressing Hurt Feelings
When a child gets their feelings hurt, sometimes they need someone to talk to. Other times they just want to be alone. That alone time may be the perfect opportunity for a kid to express hurt feelings through song. Sometimes just the act of writing it all down can help kids relieve stress. Performing it as a blues song can be fun for the child as well as the audience. The audience could be a parent or the whole family. It depends on what the child feels they want to do.
Expressing Other Stressful Feelings
Besides sibling rivalry and hurt feelings, there are a host of other things that may lead to stress in kids. These could be things like being bullied, keeping up with grades in school, weight issues, and many more. Writing feelings in song form gives kids a positive outlet for expression. Also, if the songs are then performed afterward, more stress relief can come in the singing and dancing. Also, in the dancing can be some great exercise, which is another fun and easy way to help reduce stress in kids.
Yes, writing songs can be wonderful when a child is stressed, but also don't forget to do so when your child is happy as well. Songwriting is a fun activity that the family can do together. It can also lead to laughter, which in my experience can reduce stress significantly. Kids can each write their own songs or everyone can write songs together. Even try a combination. Performing the songs afterward can be fun for the kids and parents both.
*Note that the author is not a licensed medical professional and the above is for informational purposes only. If your child is stressed, as with any health issues, contact his or her pediatrician.
**I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Often karaoke is thought of in the form of performances that cater only to the night audience. But it doesn't have to be. My kids and I enjoy karaoke regularly together. In fact, it is one of our favorite family activities. Over the years, I've come to realize it is worth much more than a fun time. Although, it IS quite fun.
Our family has always been close. But karaoke brings us even closer together. This is probably due in part to the fact that you have to work together as a team for duet songs and also because the performances are for each other since there is no other audience.
Karaoke night also helps both young and old expend excess energy, as well as let go of some stress. Feeling extra excited about something? Shout it from the rooftops with your favorite on-topic song. On that same token, if someone is feeling extra grumpy, music can be a great way to express those feelings and soothe the soul. Next to meditation, karaoke is our family's favorite way to deal with a variety of emotions.
Family karaoke night can also be a good way to keep everyone busy. I never hear one “I'm bored” when we do this, which is a huge benefit in itself. If you're feeling extra brave and social, try inviting over friends and other family to join in on the fun.
Thinking of doing karaoke with your family? Here are some of our favorite tips and kid safe songs for family karaoke night: http://www.lifesuccessfully.com/2/post/2011/03/best-family-karaoke-songs-and-tips.html
I originally published this elsewhere (no longer published there)
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.
While rescuing civilians from boring content and brands, this awesomely crazy family conquers the world, managing Intent-sive Nature while going on Upstream Parenting adventures & lessons, sometimes in an RV. They strive to cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they settle for rescue dogs and cats.
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