Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Fun With a Purpose, Indoors and Out

Ashi swimming
 It's blazin' hot this summer.  Much of the country is smoldering as temperatures hover above the century mark.  People perch on their sweaty seats waiting for the weatherman to announce the 'heat index' value for the day.  There's some kind of personal achievement in learning that even though it was 106F it actually felt like 115F!

Izaiah swimming

I have chlorine running through my veins and am most disappointed to learn that while my kids enjoy swimming, they don't enjoy it everyday, all day, obsessively as I do.  Here are some other activities we have found to be quite entertaining, indoors and out.

Making sun-catchers was really fun.  We used a handy kit that included the sun-catchers, paint, and suction cups.  Ashi loves to paint and she had blast with this!  Here is a link if you'd like to make your own out of contact paper and tissue paper. http://www.ehow.com/how_2103276_make-suncatcher.html 

Another winner at our house was making art out of real clay. Ashi is 7 1/2 and has weak hands so this really exercised those muscles.  This clay is tough enough that even 2 years ago, she wouldn't have been able to handle it. So, if you have younger kids with weak or uncoordinated hands, just use play dough that is white colored.  You can still let it dry and paint it.  This is a rooster.

Need to clean out your craft drawers?  Simply cut out various shapes of any kind of paper: newspaper, construction, tissue, lined, copy, magazines and/or cardboard you have on hand. Add some ribbon, stickers, glitter, pipe cleaners, buttons, googli-eyes to the pile too.  Don't forget markers and crayons and of course tacky glue.  Your kids can make greeting cards of all kinds: Thank-Yous, Birthday, Get Well etc. personally made by your own kids.  Ashi made some Valentine's Day cards for Eeyore and Tigger.  I know it's July, but hey! at least they won't be belated.  

While your cleaning out your craft drawer, grab that container of old, broken crayons. Recycling them into chunky crayons is fun and exercises little fingers too.  Just remove remaining paper off  the old crayons. Break them into small pieces and mix or match them into the holes of a muffin pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil.  You can mix and match however you'd like. Preheat your oven to 275 and bake crayons for 7 to 8 minutes.  Use a toothpick to mix colors, or to swirl them for the crazy colors.  Be careful!  Melted crayons are hot! Let them cool completely and then pop them out!  Perfect for toddlers..

Here's a link for making stained glass out of black construction paper and tissue.  We've done this before and it was pretty fun. http://www.ehow.com/how_4761340_make-glass-out-tissue-paper.html

An ongoing project we are doing this summer is a Flat Traveler Project. Ashi's penpal in England graciously took in Ashi's flat traveler for the summer.  In exchange, her penpal's flat traveler is here with us in America.  We take the traveler around with us and photograph interesting things we do.  We also keep a small journal about the traveler's adventures to help keep those writing skills up over the summer. Here's a website that explains it all http://www.squidoo.com/flattravelers.


 from Ashi: In a Class all by Myself
 If you enjoy sweltering as much as I do, my number one activity ( outside of swimming)  is a flower garden or a vegetable garden.  These provide great microcosms to explore: roots, bugs. There's weeds that always need pulling, and growing things that always need watering.  You can even decorate your garden with pin-wheels, stick in the ground flags and such. Drawing, sketching, or painting your observations in a lapbook is a great way for your child to express their artistic side and keep a record of what the plants looked like as they grew.  

A very close second activity simply involves a hose. A hose, to a toddler or a preschooler, is a riot.  You can even just set the water down real low to just trickle out.  Kids love to endlessly water grass, trees, cars, concrete, themselves.  They find all kinds of interesting things while doing this too, like the life cycles of  bugs, baby birds and cocoons, once we even saw a wasp carrying away a butterfly in his clutches as he buzzed through the air. ( That was creepy, but my autist loves bugs!), 

For double the fun, add a trampoline with the above hose. 

Here's something enjoyable for a toddler/preschooler/early elementary age who may have weak or poor hand coordination.  Grab a bucket and fill with water.  Add paint brushes of all sizes and sponges.  Have him 'paint' your fence if you have a picket fence, or have him 'paint' the house.  He can even paint the driveway or sidewalk if he wants.  Using either the brushes or sponges will help exercise those hands and fingers and the water will help keep him cool. This was fun for my little girl who could not manage side-walk chalk during those early years.


Since my 21 month old loves to smear spit, I knew he'd be a natural with fingerpaints.  Ashi, never wanted to get her hands dirty before, but finally at age 7, she fingerpainted this summer! There was paint everywhere. It was  glorious! We purchased our paints, but you can also make your own using vanilla pudding and food coloring. 

Whatever you enjoy doing, indoors or out, I hope you got some fresh ideas that you can take, tweak, or toss!  As for me, I'm heading to the pool.....SPLASH!

Annie has 2 published children's books about autism that also nurture the parent.  Ashi's Gift and the sequel, Ashi: In a Class all by Myself, you can find more info about the books and her family at http://www.authorannie.com/

Annie Eskeldson's autist made sure their concrete was thoroughly watered each summer day for hours on end at ages 4 and 5. Annie did survive the stares from her neighbors...but just barely, and quietly paid the water bill.


  1. Wow! What great ideas! Thanks for taking the time and energy to post first hand experiential info and not just something you found on-line that looked good. I can't wait to try the crayons...I hope my wife understands about the pan...

  2. LOL!!! HAHA! That is hilarious AgapeTim! They should just pop out though, and you can use vegetable sprayed muffin cups just in case.

  3. sschell73 Added: 27 Jul, 2011 9:31 am

    Good activities for the summer. delete

    MysonJACKSON Added: 26 Jul, 2011 4:00 pm

    You can never go wrong with art from real clay. Love the post :-) delete

  4. AnnieEskeldson Added: 27 Jul, 2011 8:08 pm

    LOL@ Jason!! It is, I've done it. It's even funner with water balloons but I didn't include this as balloons can be very dangerous for little ones or anyone who may put things in their mouths. But, between you and me - it's a riot! delete

    jason_halloway Added: 27 Jul, 2011 6:57 pm

    Trampoline with the water hose! Looks very fun! Would love to even do that

  5. Added: 29 Jul, 2011 4:32 pm

    Sun Catchers definitely look like so much fun ! delete

    BarbaraHutch Added: 28 Jul, 2011 2:25 pm

    Haha, water balloons. Very funny. These are some great activities, Annie.

  6. Loving it...puts me in the mood for August! Tons of fun! delete

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