We may all be sticking a little closer to home these days, but that doesn't mean that your family can't have a summer full of adventures. From nature-based art projects to (mud) pie baking, here are some creative ideas to keep your whole family entertained at home.
Build a FortFort building is a childhood pastime that keeps kids entertained for hours and requires minimal supplies—you can build a fort with anything you already have at home. Pillows, blankets, sheets and towels make a good fort foundation, but let your kids get creative, even if it means they raid the linen closet or take up temporary residence under the kitchen table. Tarps and oversized beach towels are a good place to start with outdoor forts, but the sky is the limit. Set them loose and let them build!
Head out on a Nature Scavenger HuntEven the smallest patch of grass is filled with wonder if you take the time to look. A nature scavenger hunt is a great way to encourage your kids to slow down and discover the creatures that live right outside the door. Give your kids a list of natural items to track down, such as a brown leaf, small rock, pinecone and a flower. The list of potential items is endless, just tailor it to the types of plants and animals you have in your neighborhood. Once your kids have collected the items on their list, spend some time researching each item. If you don't know what tree the leaf came from, for example, look it up on an online leaf identification chart.
Create a Fairy GardenFairy gardens are all the rage, and there's a good reason why—they speak to the heart of our childhood sense for magic and wonder. While there are plenty of fairy garden kits available to purchase, have your kids make their own wonderlands out of items they find in the yard. Sticks and moss are great tools for building fairy houses and a small hole filled with water makes an excellent fairy swimming pool. Find a corner outside for your kids to build their fairy garden and watch as they unleash their creativity.
Plant WildflowersWildflower gardens are beautiful, easy and inexpensive to start from seed. If you have a little space outside, let your kids plant wildflower seeds, then water them and watch them grow. Even if you don't have an outdoor space conducive to planting, wildflowers can be grown in containers on a balcony, driveway or porch. Once the flowers bloom, let your children cut them and put them inside of a vase or cup to display indoors.
Construct a Stick DenBlanket forts are one thing, but a stick den takes creative construction to a whole new level. Have your kids gather downed sticks and branches from around the yard or neighborhood and construct them teepee-style, leaving space for an entrance large enough to crawl through. Your kids will probably need some help constructing something sturdy enough to withstand wind, but once you have the foundation in place, wrap it with an old sheet and they'll have a homemade den of their own.
Arrange Beautiful BouquetsDandelions and clovers aren't weeds—they're ingredients in your next flower arrangement. Have your kids take a walk around the yard or down the street and gather wildflowers, small branches and weeds, then assemble their bounty into beautiful bouquets. Wrap them with string or ribbon and pass them out to the neighbors or use empty food jars as vases and decorate each room of your home with their floral creations.
Test Your (Mud Pie) Baking SkillsIt comes as no surprise to most parents that kids love mixing dirt and water to make mud creations. Assemble an outdoor kitchen with old pots and pans, wooden spoons or any leftover kitchen items, and let your kids make a mess assembling mud pies and other creative projects. Bonus points if they set the picnic table and create a menu out of cardboard plucked from the recycling.
Make Peanut Butter Bird FeedersThe birds are out in full force these days, so why not undertake a creative adventure your feathered friends will enjoy, too? Have your kids collect pinecones or twigs, slather them in peanut butter and then roll them in birdseed. Tie a piece of twine around your homemade birdfeeders and hang them from a tree near a window where your kids can watch the birds enjoy their snack. Help your kids identify the birds they spot on the Audubon Bird Guide app.
Treasure Hunt With Painted RocksCreate a treasure hunt adventure with your kids by hiding painted rocks around the yard. To begin, find river rocks or smooth stones and paint them with acrylic paint. Make sure to paint one with a gold star—that's the rock you'll hide in the most difficult spot. Have an adult hide the rocks around your yard, then set the kids loose to find as many as they can. If you'd like, hand out a special prize to the child that finds the rock with the gold star.
Build Your Own Arboretum
Chances are you have an abundance of plants, flowers and trees growing just outside your door but you (and your kids) don't know their names. With your kids, do some research to identify the kind of flora growing in your yard or neighborhood, then create placards and post them in front of the plant. Not only will you create your own local arboretum, but you'll help your neighbors learn about the natural world growing around them, too.
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