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6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age

June 7, 2016

By Jessica Vician

6 Summer Activity Ideas for Every Age | Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year with these activities.

Once your child finishes school for the summer, it’s time for less traditional and more fun learning. Keep your child’s mind stimulated throughout the summer to prevent them from losing the knowledge they gained over the past year.

To avoid the summer slide, ask your child’s teacher for a list of learning outcomes they accomplished this year and think of ways to incorporate that knowledge into your activities throughout the summer.

Your kids can also try these activities for additional stimulation this summer.

For toddlers

  1. Plant seeds and watch them grow. 
    Teach your child how plant life begins.

    Buy a packet of seeds—try an herb that you cook with frequently (basil, mint, and cilantro grow quickly with minimal human effort)—and some soil. Follow the directions on the seed packet and they’ll be growing in no time.

    This activity teaches your child that plants need food to grow just like kids do. The seeds need soil and water to nourish them, like kids need water and healthy foods to nourish them.

    Get excited with your child when the first sprouts break through the soil—it’s a big accomplishment for both the plant and your child!

  2. Develop their fine motor skills.
    Fine motor skills involve the movement of muscles in smaller actions. According to Baby Center, “it's equally important that kids work on their fine motor skills—small, precise thumb, finger, hand, and wrist movements—because they support a host of other vital physical and mental skills.”

    To help your young toddler develop these skills, prompt your child to stack toy blocks, sing songs with hand movements like “Wheels on the Bus,” and go to the playground and let them figure out the play equipment.

    For more activities that will develop your child’s fine motor skills, read this article.

For elementary students

  1. Join a summer reading program.
    Your local library likely has a summer reading program for your child’s age group. Encourage him or her to be social and read by enrolling in a free or low-cost program.

    You can also create an independent summer reading program. Challenge your child to read two books a month (at his or her reading level) and offer a reward, like a family dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant. Remember Book-It? It still exists and you can set up an at-home version.

  2. Create a DIY summer. 
    Teach your child how to make common things like lip balm, lotion, exfoliating scrubs, and even household cleaners. The American Girl YouTube channel has great video tutorials and Pinterest has an endless supply of ideas and directions.

    Your child will learn math skills, like how to measure and a practical application of fractions, as well as learn what goes into these products.

    Supervise your child and use natural ingredients instead of potentially dangerous chemicals, as there may be an unexpected reaction combining different liquids and solids.

For teens and tweens

  1. Learn an instrument.
    Enroll your child in a music class this summer. Learning to play and read music can teach your child valuable emotional and academic skills by engaging both the right and left sides of the brain. It also helps him or her learn to focus, improves critical thinking skills, and nurtures your child’s emotional maturity, according to VH1 Save the Music.

    If your child already plays an instrument, register him or her for a class in a different musical style. For example, if he or she knows how to play guitar, enroll in a blues or jazz guitar class, or a class modeled after your child’s favorite artist. If your city or town doesn’t offer those types of classes, find YouTube videos that focus on learning new songs.

  2. Learn to code.
    Your child should learn to code for many reasons. For one, there are so many jobs out there that require a minimal knowledge of HTML and CSS. And like learning a foreign language, it increases brain mass.

    Let your teen learn and invest in his or her future this summer with these free online resources that teach coding.

Do your kids have favorite summer activities that keep them learning in a fun way? Share them in the comments below!

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Plan a great Mother’s Day with these 5 ideas

May 3, 2016

By Nikki Cecala

Plan a great Mother’s Day with these 5 ideas | What does a mother want for Mother’s Day? Show her that you love her and truly value everything she has done for you and your kids with these 5 ideas.

What does a mother want for Mother’s Day? While cards and flowers are a nice gesture, she would genuinely appreciate something original—and originality is more fun and heartfelt for you and the kids!

Show her that you love her and truly value everything she has done for you and your kids with these five ideas.

1. Ask her what she wants
Some mothers may want to spend the day with family, while others might like a day to themselves. Ask her what she would like to do. Maybe she wants to sleep in but would like to go out for dinner with the family. Perhaps she wants to go to a movie by herself. The best gift is one she truly wants and needs, not what someone else wants for her. Let her do what she wants on Mother’s Day.

2. Create a photo album of memories
Support family time by sharing happy memories on Mother’s Day. Gather photos she hasn’t seen in a long time and ask extended family to share photos they’ve taken over the years. You can even make a quick photo book from your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

3. Plan us time
When you have children, me time and us time often is pushed down the list of things to do. But it’s good for the soul and helps maintain a healthy relationship. Grab a sitter if possible and make dinner reservations for a date night.

4. Start a fun tradition
With the kids, brainstorm unique and fun activities you can do for Mom. Need a starting off point? Think of a Mother’s Day sing-a-long with her favorite songs or a scavenger hunt for her to find little gifts the kids made. Check out our Pinterest page for more activity ideas.

5. Teach your kids to appreciate Mom
This one is sure to bring a happy tear to Mom’s eye. Encourage your kids to think hard about all the things Mom does for them. Put it in their perspective: what if they had to wake up early every day and make breakfast and lunch for Mom, get her dressed and ready for work, then go to school themselves, come home, and make dinner for everyone? And then on the weekend, they have to do her laundry, clean the house, and take her to sports practice. When would they ever relax?

If they can imagine how hard it would be for them to take care of Mom, they might appreciate what she does for them. Once they understand, ask them to write a list of what they are grateful for and give it to Mom as a gift.

Whatever you decide to do, celebrate her individuality and demonstrate how much you and the kids appreciate everything she does for your family. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to impress her, but spend time and put thought into showing her how much your family loves and appreciates her.

We’re always looking for more ways to celebrate moms. What have you done in the past for Mother’s Day?

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Why You Should Always Send a Birthday Card

April 26, 2016

By Sunny P. Chico

Why You Should Always Send a Birthday Card | Download these birthday card templates and print them for your kids to send.

Along with better weather and greener outdoors, spring brings a lot of birthdays and celebrations. While some celebrations are easy—birthday parties with your child’s classmates are frequent—some are harder for your family to celebrate, like when family members live far away.

But there’s an easy solution that keeps your children in touch with far-away family members and brings joy to the recipient: birthday cards.

A few years ago, I was visiting with my beautiful mother and came upon a colored box, which she kept near her bed. I asked her about the box and she told me that its contents helped her relax when she got anxious, go to sleep when she had trouble, and put a smile on her face every day.

The box was full of birthday cards, Mother’s Day cards, and retirement cards. I asked her which ones brought her the greatest joy and she said that she only kept the ones with a handwritten message inside. Greeting cards come with beautiful and thoughtful messages pre-written, but the most special cards are those that have an extra handwritten message by the people you love.

I immediately realized that I had been mimicking this behavior ever since my children were born over 30 years ago. I have an old hatbox that I keep my cards in! Anytime I receive a handwritten card, I put it in my hatbox instead of throwing it away. My mother helped me realize that there is still joy and comfort that these cards will bring me in the future.

We live in a very busy world that is dominated by technology. We text, we email, etc. It makes us more efficient in many ways—I know it helps me a great deal—but this communication cannot take the place of the very special messages inside my hatbox.

After finding my mom’s box of cards, I took a look inside my hatbox. I was surprised at what I experienced. I laughed and cried at the beautiful memories, and felt like I had touched many people’s lives. It was a journey looking back. I particularly paid attention to the handwritten messages, which became more meaningful.

I quickly started searching for only those that had handwritten messages. Reading the cards made me pause and think. It made me slow down for a short time and reflect.

I will go through my hatbox from time to time, but I now know that it will be one of my prized possessions by the time I am 80. It will help me relax, go to sleep, and put a smile on my face every day.

Take those extra minutes to write your thoughts in the cards you give, and encourage your children to do the same. Those handwritten cards will be a gift that lasts a lifetime.

To help your children share cards with their loved ones, the YOU Parent team created these card templates that you can download and print for your use.

Tags :  socialemotionalactivitiesfamily
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Plant a Tree for Earth Day 2016

April 19, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Plant a Tree for Earth Day 2016 | A group of teens plant a tree.

As your family watches the plants, trees, and flowers wake up this spring, say thank you by celebrating Earth Day on the 22nd.

This year, Earth Day’s global theme is Trees for the Earth, as they are working toward a goal to plant nearly 8 billion trees by Earth Day 2020—the 50th anniversary of the day.

Rally your family to help Earth Day reach its 2020 goal by planting one or more trees this year. Not only is it great for the environment—after all, it takes about 96 trees to remove the carbon dioxide produced by one person in a year—it’s a great opportunity to teach your kids about the benefits of trees while watching it grow over the years.

After checking to see what trees will grow best in your area, let your kids pick one out from your local nursery or home improvement store. If you have the space, choose a small one to maximize the growth your children will see over the years. My family planted a small tree when I was in middle school and that tree is over 30 feet tall now. Every time I visit, I’m amazed by its magnitude. That small tree grew so much in size while I was growing up and becoming an adult.

While you’re planting your tree (and creating your own memories), teach your kids about the value of trees with these facts from EarthDay.org:

Your family will also get a good workout by digging the hole for the tree and planting it, so celebrate afterward with lots of liquids and a delicious meal!

If you’re planting a tree for Earth Day this year, snap a few photos and share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. We want to see the beautiful trees your family chose!

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Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

February 23, 2016

By Jessica Vician

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? | This month's exercise is building a snowman! Bundle up the family, hit the snow, and burn an average of 285 calories an hour. | A family runs around a snowman they just built.

It’s the end of February and winter hasn’t fully released its grip on us just yet. And while we tire of the snow and cold, upcoming March reminds us that spring is near. With that in mind, I challenge you to embrace the winter and take advantage of the next snowfall—which could be your last of the season—for this month’s exercise: build a snowman!

Building a snowman is so much fun. Kids young and old love it and you can burn an average of 285 calories an hour, so bundle up and hit the snow. Toss in a friendly snowball fight to burn an extra 319 calories an hour.

You can even turn this exercise into a learning opportunity by trying to build a mathematically perfect snowman. Teach your kids about the golden ratio and get your ruler out to follow Dr. James Hind’s instructions, found here.

Regardless of whether your family attempts or succeeds at the mathematically perfect snowman, snap a pic and share it on our Facebook page. And most importantly, have fun with this winter exercise challenge!

Check out last month’s exercises here.

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