Don’t let the pretty pictures of toast fool you: I’m by no means crafty. Sure, I know my way around the kitchen, but when it comes to sequins and glue, they’re more likely to stick to me than to the art project. But with school over, I had a minor panic attack as I searched Pinterest for easy summer activities for preschoolers. I found some really great ideas, but what I really wanted was a few cheap, no-prep- (or pool-) required activities.
Over the past week, I’ve been introducing James to some of my favorite childhood pastimes. And guess what? He loves them just as much as I did! So I thought I’d share them with you in hopes that your kids will love them too.
Here Are 5 Easy Summer Activities For Preschoolers:
Paint on or with found objects
When it comes to summer activities for preschoolers, it’s really helpful to be able to adjust the project to fit your child’s attention span. This one is particularly great because it has two parts, which I find tends to hold my son’s attention better. First, take a walk outside and hunt for interesting leaves, flowers and twigs to paint with. Or do as James does and find a funny-shaped rock. Then, brush the items with paint, preferably in multiple colors. From there, you can either display your coloful treasures, or use them like stamps on paper. The fun shapes offer great visual and tactile stimulation while encouraging self-expression and creative thinking.
Grow your own snacks
If you have a sunny spot and a pot with some soil in it, you can grow any number of edible plants. The process contains not one, but several summer activities for preschoolers. James and I have been growing carrots since he was about 18 months old. They’re especially easy for very young children because you need to seed them thickly, so immature motor skills are actually an advantage. Once they sprout to about 4 inches high, thin the seedlings so they’re spaced at least 2 inches apart. Then, let them grow until you can see the carrot tops growing out of the soil. That should give you at least three days of fun, plus many more of nutritious, homegrown snacking.
Visit Your Local Farmers’ Market
Two words: free samples. Kids can’t resist them. Almost every vendor at our local farmers market encourages potential customers to taste their produce, especially during summer’s bounty. While James isn’t a picky eater, this has gotten him to try foods he’s otherwise refused. Last weekend, we went with a friend who was especially enthusiastic about a sample of snap peas. James normally pushes his plate away when he sees them, but watching his friend enjoy them encouraged him to take a bite. And wouldn’t you know, he now loves snap peas!
If you’re not sure where to find a farmers’ market near you, USDA has a list you can search by zip code. Bonus: you’ll also get your grocery shopping done.
Take An “I Spy” Walk
I spy….a pink rose! I spy….a mockingbird! I spy…..bird poop! Oh, the things you notice while playing “I Spy.” But the go-to for long car rides is good for more than just passing the time: it’s great for teaching children mindfulness. That makes it one of my favorite summer activities for preschoolers. When James spies a rose, for example, we stop for a second and examine it. What do the petals feel like? How does it smell? How many colors can you count within the flower? This has led to all kinds of discoveries, some endearing (the mockingbird who’s always perched on the same rooftop) and some ridiculous (a neighbor’s sign with “No!” emblazoned against the shape of a pooping dog). Whatever it is we find, I feel good knowing we did more than just travel from point a to point b.
Create A Bike Adventure
One of my favorite childhood memories is of our amily bike rides on warm summer evenings. I can still see my younger brother’s fluffy toddler head strapped into the baby seat on my father’s bike as I pedaled behind him. There was something about riding through parts of our neighborhood where I wasn’t normally allowed to go that felt thrilling. I remember the wind whipping through my braids, the sweet grassy smell of dewy evening air, and the feeling of going FAST as I pretended I was on an adventure all by myself.
Unlike my parents, I’m not a big biker. James, however, seems to have picked up that gene, so I’m encouraging this healthy activity by taking him to ride his bike outside of our immediate neighborhood. Most of the time, this means finding a neighborhood playground and parking about half a mile away so he can ride there. I watch his face change as he lifts his chin so I can strap on his helmet; he’s not my son anymore. He’s an extreme athlete on a motocross bike, a horse galloping through a field, or a jet zooming through the sky.
I watch his little legs peddling furiously, his chubby knees a blur, and I think about how lucky I am to have this time with him. Because while my goal may have been simply to fill an hour, the result is so much more.