Six ideas to entertain AND educate my six-year-olds
As a working mom of six-year old twin girls, planning for summer brings on feelings of excitement, ideas for magical memories and to be honest, plenty of anxiety. How will I keep them busy, connect with them and get my work finished? Below is a list of ideas to keep kids entertained and engaged with skills they’re learning in school. The list also includes notes on adult involvement for quick reference.
I should also mention, I live in Texas. It’s hot, but my kids do love to be outside, so I’ve included both indoor and outdoor activities.
Adult involvement: High
First, I should clarify. By “cooking”, I often mean “putting together.” In any event, the kids love to help. It does slow things down, but it also has the added benefit that they are more likely to eat the meal. I ask my girls to do simple things like count baby carrots or scoops of dry ingredients. Sometimes, we even use measuring cups and talk about fractions, though that’s still a bit above their math level. Of course, other tasks like stirring and cleaning keeps them involved and engaged.
I have a friend who does “Camp Veggie” where each week, each child picks a new vegetable at the store to cook and try at home. She’s had great success in broadening their tastes and packing in more vegetables. I love this idea!
Adult involvement: Minimal
Dress-up is perfect anytime. We set-up an entire dress-up station at our house, but this can be as simple as a box of your old clothes. My kids mix and match old Halloween costumes, tutus from the discount store, hand-me-downs, and anything else I’ll let them get their hands on. It’s usually princesses, but they’ve also used their imaginations to become cowboys, police officers, ballerinas, puppies and more. I love seeing what they come up with. No real “educational skills” here, but I think playing pretend shouldn’t be underestimated for social and emotional development.
Bonus tip: Suggest your kids create a show. This builds in extra downtime for you, gives them practice performing and almost always leads to great entertainment for all.
Adult involvement: Minimal – Medium
This is one of my favorites, because it can be entertaining with little involvement from me. Perfect for when I need to get something done or have a moment to myself. The first few times we introduce a new game, an adult helps the kids learn, but after that they are pretty self-sufficient (unless there is reading). Some of my girls’ favorites are Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cheerio, Uno, Old Maid and Stack Up. We’re even teaching them checkers now. The best part? They are learning counting, motor skills, teamwork, patience, strategy and/or taking turns.
Adult involvement: Medium – High
You probably already do this one. But consider new ways to approach the reading. Visit your local library for new books. Or try a book swap with a friend. Attach “sight words” to index cards to make flash cards. You can use these to practice reading the words and creating sentences.
Thankfully, my girls have reached the point at which they’ll “read” books on their own for a bit. Even if they’re just flipping through or reciting from memory, it’s a good way to get some downtime for everyone.
Adult involvement: Minimal – High
I put many activities into the “crafts” category; anything from coloring to painting to making sock puppets. On occasion, I browse the craft or dollar store for deals on glue, sequins, felt or pre-packaged crafts, new coloring books, giant pads, or a new box of crayons at the discount store. For my girls, new is interesting and that means they can be entertained for quite a while without me.
I definitely supervise painting – one of my girls would watercolor for hours! They have been known to get a little wild with glue too, so the level of supervision would depend on your child.
Crafts can also be a great way to do an activity together. Practice handwriting by creating cards for relatives and friends. Or count pom poms to glue on paper or a sock puppet. My kids are so proud of anything they make and love spending the time together.
Adult involvement: Minimal – High
We try to get outside early in the day before it’s too hot and in the evening. My kids love the fresh air and I love that they are able to get in more physical activity. Even better, activities like biking allow me to get my exercise in, as well.
• Writing on sidewalk (or any concrete surface) is always a hit. There are some great ideas like taping off a mosaic, or my girls love to draw their own pictures and write notes to practice letters and numbers.
• Bubbles have been a favorite for years. I always stock up when I see bubbles, especially with interesting wands, on sale or at the discount store. I’ve found that you can get a set of six in the party favors section. This offers several bottles per kid at a great price.
• Hula hooping is another chance for me to join in the physical activity and always provides lots of laughs.
• Get wet! My kids love the sprinkler, a plastic pool, our public pool and splash pads. Last year, I got a larger inflatable pool. I was able to keep it close enough to my Wi-Fi that I could sit in a chair and work while they splashed.
• Public parks offer a chance to access something new and active, from playgrounds to splash pads to walking. Search online for local parks for some free fun!
• Obstacle courses require a bit more effort from you but are fun and an easy way to mix it up. I’ve used cones, balls, boxes, a jump rope, and pool noodles. The sky is the limit and my kids love trying to conquer a new course.
When you’re outside, don’t forget the sunscreen! My best mom tip? Use a make-up sponge to apply sunscreen to faces. It’s super quick and spreads evenly.
Think these your child will like these ideas? What’s your favorite summertime activity? Tell us what you think in the comments.
The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs and to determine whether making a lifestyle change or decision based on this information is appropriate for you. Some treatments mentioned may not be covered by your health plan. Please refer to your benefit plan documents for information about coverage.
Note: If you feel that you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. No posting on this site is intended to be medical advice and should not be a substitute for seeking the advice of a medical professional.