Kids love to draw and paint, but instead of turning the walls of the family room into their canvas, try drawing family portraits of one another. See how well you can do, and maybe see yourself as others see you.
Take the drawings and buy inexpensive frames, and then hang them on a special wall. They may not be the most professional portraits, but nothing beats a picture painted with love.
For something out of doors, and that can turn your back yard into a haven for birds, make a home-built bird feeder. One way to do that is to spread peanut butter on the outside of a cardboard tube and roll it in bird seed. Hang it on a tree. If the job becomes a little lengthy, you can always simply enjoy the peanut butter!
Hip youngsters will appreciate the fashion savvy of a jean purse. They're not difficult to make, and look great on kids of any age. And it's a chance to mom to try that new retro look that's in vogue.
Begin by cutting the bottom off the legs of a pair of old jeans, turn them inside out, and sew or hot glue the unfinished edge together. Make a strap by attaching a loop of wool or ribbon, or one of mom's old necklaces.
Take the kids to Fifth Third Field for a ball game. It's fun to watch the Mud Hens, but baseball can be both a good time and a tool for learning. Talk about the math of batting averages. Talk about the geography of other teams. Figure the change at the concession stands.
Family times at the ball park are part of summer tradition, but the season can mean more than watching the action. It's just as much fun to enjoy family exercise. With so many parks in the Toledo area and around northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan there's probably a bike trail made for you and your children. Riding is good exercise, and there's always time to talk about the wildlife and the different trees you see along the way.
While you are cycling with your pedals to the metal, take the trip a little further. Take a picnic and turn a bike ride into a day out.
Parks are also wonderful places to toss a ball around, play catch. Run around, jump, and skip. Fun and fitness go together like the ball in a catcher's mitt during the summer.
With so many opportunities for physical activity around this region, there's also certain to be a swimming pool near you where you and your children can safely enjoy wet and wonderful afternoons.
Don't skate on thin ice in the summer. Try roller blades. Make sure that both you and your children wear the proper pads and protective gear, and then roll out for a good time. Sure, the kids will probably leave you eating their dust, but just staying upright is a challenge met.
Children love to watch movies, and here are some recommendations of films that you can watch together.
Clara's Heart (1988). The story of a young boy whose infant sister has died and whose parents are in a deteriorating marriage. Clara is the housekeeper who opens the boy's eyes and heart to new experiences. Rated PG-13.
Adventures of Milo and Otis (1989). Milo, a curious kitten, accidently sets sail down the backyard creek in a box and Otis, a pug-nosed pup, follows behind along the shore. Rated G.
Walt Disney's The Jungle Book (1967). Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear have a hard time convincing Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves, to leave the Indian jungle for human civilization. Rated G.
Chicken Run (2000). Comedy escape drama with a touch of passion set on a chicken farm in 1950s England. Rated G.
Babe (1995). The tale of a pig and other animals on Farmer Hoggett's farm. Also check out Babe: Pig in the City (1998). Fresh from victory in the sheepherding contest, the pig goes to the big city to save the farm when Farmer Hoggett takes ill. Both Rated G.
Trying to get a child to clean his or her room can be a full-time occupation. But that doesn't mean that every task around the home has to be a bore or a chore. Why not use cooking as an interesting way to teach a child math as they add up ingredients? Try the same with figuring out the time a dish needs to be in the microwave.
On the long, warm days, spend time in the garden. Think they'll want to weed your favorite flower bed? Nuh, uh. But caring for plants, learning about the birds and bugs can be made into a pleasure.
And while you're outside think how it was to sleep out of doors. So why not be a kid again with your children. Pitch a tent in the back garden, and spend the night in the wide open spaces of your lawn.
Look at the stars, tell scary stories by torchlight. Be together.
If your children want a more natural light at night, catch lightning bugs in a jar and marvel as they glow.
Places To Go:
If your children thinking learning is spelled P-A-I-N, maybe they'll think again after you have taken them to the zoo or to COSI, or to the Toledo Botanical Garden.
Science a bore? Not when there are hands-on experiences to be had. Nature is yucky? Not when there are so many animals at the zoo to admire, to laugh at, to amaze at.
And if your children think school is tough now, why not visit together the one-room schoolhouse at Wildwood Preserve Metropark to see what yesterday's kids had to endure.