…Right in your own community!
By Remy Agee
Your house or theirs, it’s time for summer fun and adventures.
School readiness skills and experiences involving vocabulary, communication, problem solving, sequencing, planning and organization are critical for toddlers and preschoolers. These are also important for older grandkids to improve during the summer months for success the next school year. And it’s all right there in your own city or town!
Curiosity and individual interests can be encouraged when grandchildren visit and interact with something new such as equipment, materials and supplies for your adventure together.
• The local nature center, fire station or animal rescue facility. Call for best times to visit. Read books on the topic before; discuss your visit afterwards.
• Geography: Kids can learn how to read a map and then create their own neighborhood map. Share with children new to the community. For challenging, purposeful experiences, modify “geography missions” from National Geographic’s Mission: Explore
• Transportation: Develop a city/town tour using as many different modes of travel as possible
• Photography: Go on a safari and snap pix of whatever interests the kids. Online photo books/merchandise make great holiday gifts or keepsakes
• Cultural differences: Restaurant tour; try different ethnic foods
• “Citizen Science”: Individuals contribute their observations of a specific thing — birds, fish, frogs, flowers, water — to a central database from Scientific American used by trained scientists; and TheDailyGreen.com
• How things are made: Visit local manufacturing/production facilities, e.g., ice cream, candy, shoes
• Local points of interest: Map out a bike ride, including a picnic lunch and a stop for ice cream
• Choose three activities, e.g., biking, rollerblading, jogging with route/length for each
• “Train” with your grandkids on weekdays; hold event on weekend
• Use stopwatches and numbered armbands for participants
• Involve neighborhood kids/friends with awards for all
2. Fishing contest
• Create different awards so each child/adult gets one
• Find fish recipes, compile ingredients for celebration feast
3. Bike photo safari
• Each team gets one digital camera and one safari clue list
• Photograph location or item team believes is correct/per clue
• Judges review team photos of correctly captured clues
• Award category prizes (e.g., most artistic, most bizarre interpretation of clue, most correct items, funniest photo)
4. Build forts
• Design custom backyard hideaways
• Gather equipment/supplies
5. Camp outdoors in your backyard or local park
• Compile list of equipment/supplies
• Plan meals; gather ingredients
• Enjoy storytelling with flashlights and s’mores or celebrate with a starlit midnight feast
Plan in advance of your/their arrival date. Share the excitement by discussing plans via phone or Skype and sending clues via USPS or email.
No plans to get together this summer? Take heart: Many of these ideas can be enjoyed whenever you get together!
Remy Agee is the former Anne Arundel County (MD) Child Care Coordinator and retired as Director of Communications at a large family and children government agency. She has conducted county, state and national workshops on school readiness and early childhood partnerships. She now focuses on developing and writing articles for parents, grandparents and early childhood professionals.