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Low Mess, Low Stress Summer Fun

School is almost out and if you are like me you are stepping into summer vacation with a mix of both joy and trepidation. While I am ready to embrace those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer I am also asking myself, "What am I going to do with the kids all day?" I don't want my kids to stare at screens for hours and they aren't yet old enough to entertain themselves for too long without supervision so I'm thinking I need a game-plan.

What about you? Will you be home with your kids this summer? How are you planning to spend those sweet, unscheduled hours? Sometimes a few easy activities can make the difference between a lazy day and a loooooooooooooooooooong day. With that in mind, here are a few things our family will be working on throughout the summer. Hopefully this short list will spark some fun ideas that will help to make this summer a wonderful time of togetherness!

Make an Art Gallery

This idea is much simpler than it sounds. My children are really into creating pieces of art with whatever materials I have on hand. In order to give "coloring" a more exciting summer twist, I thought we could create and save pieces of artwork over the summer and then host an "art gallery" for our grandparents or neighbors or cousins or whomever can attend. If filling your living room with a construction paper art gallery doesn't appeal to you, you could also take pictures of each work of art and then have a popcorn viewing party as you scroll through masterpieces on your T.V. screen. (The artist could even talk about some of their favorite pieces!) If you want to keep some of those pieces forever, you could take those same pictures and put them in a Shutterfly book. We have done this and they make great Christmas gifts for grandparents! Plus, what else are you supposed to do with that abstract string, tape, painted paper thing your son hands you?

I plan to have a few special art supplies on hand this summer such as watercolor pencils, oil pastels, and chalk pastels. We may also watch a few Youtube tutorials such as arthubforkids or go through some step-by-step drawing books in order to pick up a few new techniques. The simple idea of working toward an end of summer art show will give your budding artists a little extra motivation to be creative!

Read the Boxcar Children

Do you remember this children's book series from your youth? We bought the first 12 books in the series and my boys and I are really enjoying them! Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden are respectful, good-natured, well-mannered children and I am thrilled for my boys to be "spending time" with them. I seriously love the way these siblings speak and interact with one another! My boys enjoy the many outdoor adventures and the fun, independent play that is celebrated throughout these books. These are refreshing, easy summer reads the whole family will enjoy.

Play Games

My husband and I used to enjoy playing games and then we had kids and the game nights got reduced to quick games of rock, paper, scissors to decide who had to change the next poopy diaper. Now that 2 out of 3 of our kiddos are old enough to participate, I am happy to announce that games are making a huge comeback in our home! Yay! In addition to promoting fun, family togetherness, games are often educational. Cait at has a lot of fun recommendations for "Game-schooling" which is basically a sneaky (and brilliant) way to learn everything from math to geography to logic skills. She has many fun recommendations. Here are a few that we've been enjoying:

Our whole family enjoys this game - even my husband!

We just discovered this little gem and it has become the new family favorite.

Plus, it was invented by a 6 year old which has us all thinking we need to start inventing games!

This game has been a go-to game for the past 6 months.

Think "Clue" but much easier for your 4 year old to understand.

Great for learning the process of elimination!

Watch "What's in the Bible" DVD Series

If your kids are going to watch movies this summer, why not have some of that screen time be a fun and memorable trip through the Bible? My kids enjoy these movies and so do I! We watched them at the beginning of last school year and I am planning to slowly work our way through the 12 DVDs for a second time over the course of the summer. In my opinion, this set is well worth their $99 price tag and you can often catch them on sale.

Parks Project

What if you set a family goal of trying out all of the parks in your area throughout the course of the summer? Would it be fun to rank them and keep track of which ones you liked best? If your kids enjoy visiting parks as much as mine do, you may want to view the Parks Project I created to incorporate a little more "sneaky learning" into your summer play!

These are a few of the things I plan to weave into our summer - in between trips to the pool, of course! However you spend your lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer, I hope you will enjoy the slower schedule and the extra opportunities for family fun!

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