Many of these ideas complement topics in a message I gave to a MOPS group a few weeks ago about getting kids out in God’s creation and encouraging creativity. I offered this for their newsletter, and now I offer it to you.Inspiring creativity and a love of God’s creation in kids doesn’t mean you have to move to a ten-acre farm in the country and raise goats. This summer you can take small steps to acquaint your family with life outside the air-conditioned walls of your home.It starts with placing a high enough value on getting kids out in God’s creation so that you are willing to carve out time and create appealing opportunities. Once you’re convinced it’s worth the effort, start experimenting!Moms who aren’t sure where to start or have very small children might like to simply step outside to watch the sunset each evening, even if the kids are already in their jammies. Or stay up even later one clear, warm night, toss a big comforter on the ground, and watch the stars come out. Learn a few constellations. Read aloud the creation account from Genesis 1 through 2:2.Another small step toward enjoying the outdoors is to take a daily walk. As toddlers progress toward grade school, the daily walk provides the continuity of a slow, healthy family tradition. Dress for the weather, and the kids will log strong memories of tromping through the winter snow and popping open umbrellas in the rain!Every once in a while stop and listen to a birdsong or ask what the air smells like. Touch tree bark and comment on its texture. This outing won’t get you too dirty (unless you let them roll down a muddy hill at some point!), yet you’ll heighten observation skills.Have your child select a tree on the path. Each time you pass it, note how it changes with the seasons. Find out what kind it is so that she knows “her” tree by name: “Let’s check on my shagbark hickory tree, Mom!”Add to the experience by playing “I-Spy,” (Person A: “I spy with my little eye, something brown…” Person B: “Is it that squirrel?” A: “Nope. Guess again!” B: “Is it that tree?” and so on.). Or launch a nature treasure hunt, listing things you’ll spot that time of year (e.g., tracks, chipmunks, flowers, birds, seeds).Trips to the zoo or a farm are fun and remind kids that the world is full of amazing creatures. Or, on a stormy day that forces you inside, nature shows and books can enhance understanding and appreciation of God’s creation, as well.Creativity is often taken to a new level when combined with outdoor play, so don’t forget the power of a simple cardboard box. It could become an airplane, bus, or spaceship. Or your child might turn into a turtle, crawling across the yard with the overturned box on his back and slipping under it to hide.Moms with energy and initiative may enjoy leafing through activity books and websites for ideas like making vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, folding paper to make pinwheels or whirligigs for the garden, or blowing bubbles!One final thought: Moms aren’t the only ones to get kids out and about. This week at a nearby park, I saw a young dad walking the path with a baby in a Snugli. Next to him toddled his slightly older child who was sucking on a pacifier while watching my kids splash in the creek.That dad is a reminder to us all: We aren’t solely responsible for getting kids out in God’s creation—ask a grandparent or your spouse to take them from time to time, so they can share the fun (and you can get a break)!Enjoy the summer!
On the off chance that your child would utter the words “I’m bored” at some point this summer, here are some websites with creative ideas:
- 100 More Things To Do When You’re Bored: Summer Edition (some of her ideas are geared for an older child, but could be done with mom & younger child)
- How to Have Fun with Your Kids
- 101 Summer Ideas (the flashing sunshine clipart is really annoying, but the ideas are good)