Summer Challenges

She decided (after hearing of an older kid challenging himself to ride 100 miles this summer) to ride her bike 4 minutes a day for 60 day 🙂 She is 4, after all, and it really is a challenge for her! Ii’m excited that she’s setting her own goals and discovering on her own how capable she is.

summer goal
What are your kids planning for this summer? Any life skills being learned or developed?

Flowers & Love

Every day when we go outside, my 20 month old brings me one carefully selected flower and offers it to me, “‘ere go.”Every day when we go outside, my 20 month old brings me one carefully selected flower and offers it to me, "'ere go" May I think to offer my children tokens of my love as often.

Puzzle People

It was my turn to plan family night, and I had a craving for arts & crafts, while I knew my husband would be in the mood for games and competition. Thankfully, I found a great combo in the Puzzle People Game!

Puzzle People

I got the idea for Puzzle People from Scrumdilly-do’s Boredom Busters: Crazy Creatures post. You can follow her thorough & colorful how-to there; basically, you want to:

1. Line up index cards (we did 3) and draw one character across the three: head, body, and legs/feet. It’s okay if it’s not humanoid, so long as it can fit across the cards.
2. We then wrote “head” “body” and “feet” on the back sides, but won’t do this next time – see below.
3. Mix up the cards.
4. Make up games to play with them! Use your imagination, use her ideas, or try mine, below.
5. Keep ’em for more fun later – we used a simple plastic zip-top bag.

Our Games

Game #1. Story Telling:
After separately drawing our characters, we introduced each with a little (funny) story. The body (middle card) in the photo above, for example, is a young chef who loves cooking, mixing, and his fun checkered pants.

Game #2. Crazy People:
We mixed up the heads in one stack, bodies in one stack, and feet in one stack, all upside-down. Because we could tell by handwriting what was what, we dealt them out rather than choosing cards (next time we’ll leave off the backs). We each had one minute to come up with a name for the newly-created person, along with a story about why they look the way they do.

Game #3. Build-a-Person: We shuffled all the cards together and dealt 5 to each player. The goal was to get a complete, matching, head-body-feet character.
We held our cards so only we could see them and, in “Go Fish” fashion, asked, “Do you have a _____?”
“Do you have a head? Body? Feet?” If the player has any, they have to pick one and give it to you. If they don’t have one, you draw one from the top of the card pile. Either way, you always end your turn by discarding one card to the bottom of the draw pile so that your hand ends up with 5 cards again.
The winner, of course, is whoever first puts together a complete, matching person!
This was a fun, silly, game since you don’t have a lot of control over what you get, and you have crazy looking people in your hand the whole game.

We’ve had our cards for 6 years now and still bring them to restaurants and waiting rooms for a little boredom-busting fun!

…and you?

Share links or ideas in the comments of other games and activities you get to make & then play.

Enjoy your Family… without Spending a Cent!

How do you plan memorable family time without adding a huge budget item – “Movies, the Zoo, and Amusement Parks”? Read my favorite ideas and comment with your own.

* Read Together – Even before we had kids, my husband and I liked to read to one another! Funny stories, folktales, really anything you can borrow or pull off your bookshelf makes for a great time, whether just before bed or any other time. I have great memories of my dad reading a chapter of Alice in Wonderland to my sister and me every night for weeks.

* Take a Walk – We try to do this every night after dinner, and frequently have our best conversations of the day!

* Watch the sun rise or set – Try this out from different spots: a nice window in your house, the apartment roof, a park. Talk, or enjoy the contemplative silence. Kids can tell stories about the shapes in the clouds as they change colors.

* Window shop – We love to walk the sidewalks of our downtown, looking at the window displays. This is especially fun around the holidays!

* Browse – Stores with seating and/or kids’ play areas make great spots for spending time “just looking.” Kids’ book sections are often set up with train tables, cozy reading chairs, and even fun forts, and a favorite spot of ours when we met was in the comfy chairs near the complimentary coffee right by the joke books. For a relaxed date setting, our local independent book store had rocking chairs around their fireplace in the classics section.

* Get Natural – I love state parks! These not only have hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas, but most also offer free events and kids’ programs, especially when the weather’s nice.

* Stargaze – All you really need is a blanket to lay on so you won’t get a neckache, but if you want to learn what you’re staring in awe at, search for a local Astronomy Club. Ours offered monthly Star Parties where all the amateur hobbyists brought out their telescopes and aimed them at the really cool stuff – Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and so on. They also ran interactive fun kids’ activities and visually wowing slideshows or movies inside. If you don’t have one nearby, you can still use a website like StarDate to find out about sky events such as meteor showers!

* Use your local library – Libraries have always been a favorite spot of mine. You know what you can do there: read newspapers, books, play educational games on computers, surf the internet, get help from the ever-wise Librarians. Most libraries offer events and workshops, especially for kids and especially during the summer. My home library hosted concerts for local schools’ music students, craft workshops, book readings, and much more.

* Sing! Your experience may involve more giggles than music skills, but it will be a time to remember.

* Volunteer – Look in your local newspaper, keep your eyes open for posts on bulletin boards (online and off), and ask around. Washing dogs for an animal shelter, sorting items for a charity rummage sale, visiting people in hospitals or nursing homes, or hosting a knit-athon with neighborhood families is a memorable way to connect with your loved ones as well as with new friends.

* Tell and Write Stories – Storytime doesn’t always have to come from a book! Tell stories you’ve heard, and let everyone practice making up stories. Use history, parables, folktales, your childhood, and the day’s events for inspiration.

…and you?

What are your favorite no-cost family activities? Share ‘em in the comments – I’d love to try them out myself!

Photo courtesy macinate

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