Summer is a wonderful season to explore God’s world through various activities. After the Christmas season, our summer holidays begin in earnest. Keeping the children entertained may become a challenge if you’re not away on holiday or you’re fresh out of ideas.
There are a few free, nature based activities you can enjoy as a family:
If you live near the ocean you can comb the beaches for treasures. There are different things to observe at various times of the year. Beachcombing after a storm is the best time to go as there will be many things that would have washed up on shore. All you need are eager eyes and bodies ready to explore and search the sand, seaweed and shells.
There’s another world thriving in the rockpools so explore them when the tide is out. Snails, crabs and whelks hide around the seaweed and sponges. Investigate the seaweed and turn over rocks gently to spot what’s living there.
Ponding is the investigation of living creatures within a pond. It’s easier to find creatures in still, small ponds or swampy places as tiny animals thrive in this stagnant, quite environment. To observe these miniature organisms, take along a net with very fine mesh, magnifying glasses and a white plastic tub to hold the animals in. Always keep your children within arm’s length.
Fishing is a great activity the whole family can participate in. Even if it requires a few interesting books to read for those less inclined to put bait on a hook. All that’s needed is a fishing rod, a great, shady spot along a lake or river and a tin of sweetcorn for bait. You’re bound to catch carp at least.
There are many bushwalking trails and conservation parks to choose from for a bush hike. The bushwalking trail you choose will depend on the ages of your children. When they’re young keeping it short and fun is important. You may choose a hike near a lake where they can feed the ducks and enjoy a picnic afterwards. If your children are older they may appreciate a walk with a challenge. Hikes which include a little rock climbing keep them interested.
Hiking at night unveils a whole new world when nocturnal animals, birds and insects are active. Get the children headlamps or glow sticks and explore bush trials and trees for night creatures.
Pull out the picnic blanket, pop some corn and make a chocolate drink to relish while stargazing in the backyard. Search for star constellations and watch the moon travel across the sky. Share childhood stories and delight in some bonding time with the children.
Picnics are great family fun and they don’t need to be elaborate or complicated. A couple of sandwiches and fruit is all that’s need. Choose a spot that will provide interest for exploration. Search for bugs, try to catch butterflies and observe birds.
Showing an interest in birds yourself will ignite a curiosity within your child for them. Prepare them before the birdwatching outing by explaining they need to be quiet and listen for the sounds of birds. They’re also to move slowly as birds are frightened by fast movements. Once they’ve spotted a bird train them to observe its behavior for a few moments before finding the next one. Identify the birds found and remind them of the name every time you see the bird again.
I love berry picking season which starts in December with strawberries and ends in early March with blueberries. Search for a berry farm near you and soak up some sunshine while picking berries. Children love to search for and pick berries. Enjoy them fresh or make berry jam or pie. I like to pick a couple of buckets full and freeze them for the year. It’s so much cheaper than buying them store bought.
Enjoy the summer months by exploring the outdoors and introducing your children to secret worlds. Only the eyes which are trained to search will find them.
What activities would you add to this list? What activities does your family enjoy each summer?