If your kids are like mine, summer is a two-month blur of camps and vacation bible school.
But the best laid plans of mice and parents can’t account for every single week when they’re not in school. So there’s bound to be some off-weeks when there’s nothing scheduled at all.
We know from the experience of summers past that days devoid of structure can quickly degenerate into hours spent in front of the TV.
But no more!
The summer activity corkboard: A twofer for kids
My wife came up with a simple and effective way to lay out the hours of the day for the kids when they don’t otherwise have any formal activities going on.
All it takes is a cork board, paper, glue, thumbtacks, scissors and computer/printer access.
No computer? No worries — you can just use a pen on paper for this job.
Here’s how it goes:
- Sit your kids down in front of the computer and have them make a list in a Word document of the things they want to do this summer. One activity per line, please. This list should include both one-off activities like going to a museum or on a road trip and everyday tasks like brushing their teeth, making their bed, reading, exercising, etc.
- Print out the results and then grab some scissors to cut out each line (activity) to make it into its own unit.
- Get some construction paper and cut it into small rectangles.
- Use glue to affix the activities you’ve cut out onto the construction paper. One activity per rectangle.
- Each morning, get up and structure the day with your kids by pinning the rectangles to your corkboard in the order in which they’ll be done.
The end result is a highly visual prompt that lends some order to your otherwise crazy summer days. (You can also do this the night before if you’re really a pre-planner!)
The beauty of the system is that it can be used and reused all summer long. Store the activities you’re not doing on any given day in a plastic bag or folder.
The other great thing is that approaching your summer this way is really a twofer that offers both immediate and long-term payback.
First, you get the kids involved in making these activity cards and that can take a couple hours. Second, you involve them again on a daily basis when you’re planning out the day out together.
See how the plan works in action…