44 Things to Do with Your Kids This Summer

We’re halfway through summer, and keeping kiddos busy, enriched, and entertained is starting to feel like a chore. Some of us used up all of our creativity in the first two weeks of summer!

Not to fear. Browse this list, and find something new to do this week — and the next… and the next.

1. Go on an outdoor treasure hunt. Find something enticing to hide, stash it in a place you won’t forget, and draw a basic map to get to the treasure. Bonus: This helps with reading (even if you only use shapes in your map, you’re helping your child practice pre-reading skills), following directions, and patience!

2. Make ice cream sandwiches. Sure, you can buy ice cream sandwiches (and that’s a fun treat and activity too!), but making your own is a fun, novel activity.

Buy or make soft cookies. Scoop a spoonful of ice cream onto the flat side of one cookie (if you make your own cookies, make sure you wait for them to cool). Place the flat side of another cookie onto the ice cream, and press the sandwich together. Wrap it in tin foil and stash in the freezer. Now you have a delicious, cold treat to grab when it’s hot — and your child can take pride in having helped to make it!

3. Eat ice cream for dinner. Trust us — your kids will remember this experience forever. (Just don’t make it a habit!)

4. Make your own ice pops with juice or blended fruit.

5. Make a fort. Indoors or outdoors, a fort is a perfect place to spend the afternoon. Drape a sheet over a few chairs or over a low-hanging tree branch, and enjoy playing, reading, listening to music, and more inside!

6. Go to a farmers market. Give your child a few dollars to spend, and let her pick out a new or familiar fruit or veggie for dinner..

7. Pick berries. Picking your own berries is a great sensory experience for a preschooler. The colors, the tastes, the scents, the feel… it can be a delight to gather delicious berries on your own. It’s definitely different from selecting a basket at the grocery store. Go to PickYourOwn to find farms where you can pick fruit in your area.

8. Explore a nearby state or national park. Take advantage of the junior ranger program at national parks where children learn to explore, learn and protect.

9. Go for a hike. Find a new favorite trail for your family. Handy hint: Walking sticks help with preschooler endurance.

{How to Keep Your Preschooler Engaged on a Hike}

10. Find a new trail for bike rides. Do you have bike paths near your house or in your town? Challenge yourself to find a new one.

11. Go to the library. Participate in summer reading programs, get library events on your calendar, and make sure to let your child learn the joy of wandering through the library stacks to find a new book.

12. Go ice blocking. Sledding in the summer! Buy an ice block from your local grocery store, grab some winter gloves and a towel, and head to a nearby hill. Wear the gloves, place the towel on the ice block, and take a ride down the hill sitting on the ice block!

13. Put a twist on your sidewalk chalk art.
-Print out images of your child’s favorite cartoon character to copy.
-Create a family mural, in which each person contributes their own drawings.
-Make a path for your child to follow on a bike or by foot. Make zig zags, spirals, curves, and more. The only rule is your child has to stay on the path!

14. Go to a museum. Children’s museums are great, but try an art museum too!

{How to Take Your Preschooler to an Art Museum}

15. Explore new splash pads. You’ve probably been to most or all of the splash pads in your area, but what about the next town over? And the one beyond that?

16. Explore new parks. Create your own ranking system in your phone (number of slides, amount of shade, etc.) as a fun way to keep track of your favorite parks together.

17. Paint the fence with water. For a mess-free, but cooling, “paint” experience, give your child a few paintbrushes and a bucket of water. Let him “paint” the fence, front door, sidewalk, and house.

18. Paint rocks.  Leave your creations around the neighborhood for other kids to find.

19. Go for a day trip visit to a nearby city.

20. Vote for your favorite candy and/or ice cream. Like March Madness? Create your own brackets for the best candy and/or ice cream. After tasting and voting as a family or with friends, advance the winners until you have the final verdict.

21. Try a twist on s’mores. Use different candies and flavored marshmallows until you find your favorite combination.

22. Put up a tent in the backyard. Spend the day playing in the tent (find a shady spot to set it up!), or haul out your sleeping bags for a camping night in the backyard.

23. Go stargazing in the backyard.

24. Set up an obstacle course inside or outside.

25. Have a game night. Invite the neighbors over, or have a fun family game night. Snacks should be included, obviously.

26. Give your child a box. Or a bag. Seriously. See what she comes up with.

27. Make up stories.

28. Use craft sticks to beat boredom. Spend a few minutes writing acceptable quiet activities on craft sticks — reading, coloring, calling a grandparent, playing dress-up, stacking cups, etc. When your child inevitably says he’s bored, let him pick a craft stick and do the activity it instructs.

29. Read a chapter book together.

30. Have a picnic with themed food.

31. Go on a pajama walk. Surprise your kids at bedtime and announce it’s time for a pajama walk. Let them bring their stuffed animals as you walk around the neighborhood dressed and ready for bed.

32. Get a giant poster or large piece of butcher paper. Lay it on the floor, and let everyone color on it. Trace hands, feet, and bodies for extra fun.

33. Have a toy wash. Wash cars, Barbies, and other toys outside in buckets of water.

34. Play dress up.

35. Do yard work together. Buy kid-sized shovels and gloves to make your child feel included.

36. Deliver treats to firefighters. Have your child make a personalized thank-you card to include with the treats.

37. Make and deliver thank-you cards to your librarians.

38. Have a bike parade. Invite the neighborhood kids to decorate their bikes and join in a parade. Get the other parents to be parade spectators.

39. Visit a local farm.

40. Take a tour of a local factory.

41. Be a tourist in your town. Look at tourist websites for your town. Is there anything you haven’t done?

42. Cook together. Designate one night a week as your child’s night to cook. Let him plan the menu, and help him prepare the meal.

43. Go to an outdoor movie.  Many cities around the country show outdoor movies during the summer. If your preschooler can stay up late from time to time, this is a great, free, fun thing to do as a family   Here is a list of local outdoor movies for Utah in 2019.

44. Play balloon tennis. Grab some paper plates, glue, balloons, and giant craft sticks. Glue the sticks to the backs of paper plates, and hit a balloon back and forth.

11 Fun Water Play Activities for Preschoolers

water play activities for preschoolers

Heat can turn even the sweetest preschooler into a sweaty mess of anger and tantrums. If you’re frantically searching for ways to beat the heat this summer, use these 11 fun water play activities for preschoolers that help build developmental skills.

Before jumping into water fun, make sure you review water safety rules with your preschooler.

  • Never swim alone.
  • Never go to a swimming area (lake, pool, river) alone.
  • Always ask permission before playing in or with water.

Mom and Dad, remember it only takes a moment for your child to slip into a body of water. Be vigilant and watchful around all standing water — even kiddie pools.

1. Small-World Sensory Tubs

water play activities for preschoolers

Water beads are fun sensory experiences for preschoolers who are past the stage of putting things in their mouths. They’re soothing and fun to handle, which keeps kids at the bin longer, allowing their imaginations to take off. Get a bin and set up small worlds by adding themed toys: ocean animals for an ocean theme, pirate ships and figures for a pirate theme, etc.

You can also make a sensory world with water and toys. This fun sensory tub from Danya Banya shows how to make a watery ocean world.

2. Kiddie Pool Add-ins

Preschoolers love jumping in and out of the kiddie pool, dunking their hair, and splashing around. Give them some add-ins, and they’ll stay in the kiddie pool even longer, having a great sensory, imaginative experience. Some fun ideas:

  • Water balloons
  • Pool noodles
  • Water balls
  • A kickboard
  • Plastic toy animals
  • Measuring cups, strainers, spoons, and small buckets
  • Colored ice cubes

3. Wash the Lawn Furniture or Yard Toys

Grab some sponges and a bucket of soapy water, and direct your preschooler to wash the lawn furniture or yard toys. It’s slippery and wet, which makes the process a fun sensory activity. Plus, preschoolers hone their scientific observation skills as they see what happens when they squeeze the soapy sponge. If the lawn furniture actually gets clean in the process? Bonus!

4. Splash Pad Play

Head to your local splash pad for some cool gross motor development. Running, skipping, jumping, and crawling through the spray structures helps your preschooler learn where her body is in space and gives her confidence in what her body can do. Plus, it’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day!

5. Ice Play

water play activities for preschoolers

This science-based activity is so fun, and it helps to improve fine motor skills while learning cause and effect. Fill a plastic container with water and add small objects, like buttons and small toys. Place the container in the freezer.

When ready, take the ice block out and put it in a bin (or on the lawn if it’s a hot day!). Give your preschooler some tools that will help in freeing the toys:

  • A spoon
  • Salt shakers
  • Driveway salt (you can use food coloring to dye the salt for a fun effect)
  • A bowl of water
  • Syringes

Then sit back as you watch your preschooler work with determination to find a way to free the toys. If this can be done with a friend or sibling, it’s even better because the preschoolers learn cooperation as they problem solve together.

6. Water Potions

water play activities for preschoolers

Let your child be a scientist for the day with this water activity for preschoolers. Gather a variety of utensils and containers from your home:

  • Spray bottles
  • Empty hand soap bottles
  • Ice cube trays
  • Dishes and bowls
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Whisks

Add a few drops of liquid watercolor to water in different containers, and then let your preschooler experiment with the water and utensils. They’ll get hands-on experience with how different colors change when mixed together, and they’ll also be fully immersed in fine motor development — scooping, carrying, squeezing, transferring, controlling how much they pour… it all combines for a colorful, wet, fun learning experience.

7. Toy Car Wash

Gather your plastic cars (make sure you don’t grab any with batteries) and set up a car wash in your backyard. Use buckets, bowls, tubs, cups, spray bottles — whatever you have on hand — for the wash. Fill some containers with soapy water and some with clear water. Give your preschooler some wash rags, a toothbrush, and/or sponge, and let her imagination finish the job.

8. Go Fishing… in Your Backyard… with Balloons

This fun idea from The Empowered Educator builds fine motor skills, gives you an opportunity to practice color recognition, build hand-eye coordination, and more. Add small balloons to a tub filled with water. Give your preschooler a strainer, cup, bowl, and/or spoon and challenge him to “fish” for the balloons.

9. Water Relay Race

If you have a few kids at your house one day, cool them off with some fun water relay race games.

  • The children can build balance as they walk with a bowl of water on their heads and empty it into a bucket at the end of the relay.
  • Increase hand-eye coordination as they carry a small water balloon on a serving spoon, trying not to let it drop and break.
  • Poke a few holes in the bottom of a disposable cup. At one end of your relay, have the children fill the cup with water from a full bucket. Challenge them to pass it overhead from person to person until it gets to a bucket at the end where the last person dumps the remaining water. This builds gross motor skills (and is refreshingly cool!).
  • Set up an obstacle course and give each relay runner two buckets full of water. Have the children run the obstacle course with the buckets, trying not to spill. Whoever has the most water at the end wins.

water play activities for preschoolers

10. Water Limbo

Create a limbo “bar” with your water hose. Use your thumb to make the water shoot in a line. Have your preschooler try to go under the line (the traditional limbo move is fun, but you can also have them crawl, hop like a frog, go backwards, run under the line while spinning, etc.). Keep lowering the line for more fun. This builds gross motor skills and coordination.

11. Pool Noodle Race — A Pool Game

Your preschooler can play this game even if he needs to wear a Puddle Jumper or life vest in the pool. Have each player straddle a pool noodle and race from one point in the pool to another. This builds muscles, coordination, and gross motor skills, while also encouraging sportsmanship.

These fun water play activities for preschoolers will keep your child busy — and cool — all summer long!

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper, Utah, we believe children learn through play. Scientific observations are more meaningful, fine- and gross-motor skill activities are more impactful, and cause-and-effect hits home far stronger when children are having fun. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or contact us online for a tour of the preschool.

4 Dr. Seuss Life Lessons We’re Glad We Have

 

March 2 is Theodor Seuss Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) birthday. When we sat down to list all the many important lessons Dr. Seuss taught us through his books, we couldn’t stop! Through a creative writing style that nobody seems able to duplicate, Dr. Seuss’s books teach sophisticated life lessons in a way that just sticks — without us always even realizing it!

If you sat down with even just a handful of Dr. Seuss’s 60 books and looked for lessons, you’d end up with a list a mile long. (You could even read that mile-long list in a box with a fox if you like.)

We’re not sure a complete list could ever be compiled, but here are four of our favorite Dr. Seuss life lessons at UDA Creative Arts Preschool.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — Reading Is Important

Dr. Seuss life lessons

Over and over, readers get the message from Dr. Seuss that reading is important. Often, he stated that message outright:

The more that you read, the more things that you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

I can read in red. I can read in blue.
I can read in pickle color too.”

-from I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

 

But even when reading wasn’t the dedicated subject of Dr. Seuss’s books, nobody can deny how enjoyable it is to read the fun cadence of Dr. Seuss’s imaginative rhymes. His rhymes are so fun, in fact, that we use them to teach rhyme to our 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds at preschool. Children easily pick up on predicting the next rhyming sound when they are read to from Dr. Seuss books.

And did you know?: In 1954,  a Life magazine article criticized children’s reading levels, so Houghton Mifflin and Random House asked Dr. Seuss to write a children’s primer using 220 vocabulary words. The Cat in the Hat was the result, proving that children’s literature can be fun while introducing new words.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons: Compassion

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss teaches his readers that we have a responsibility to care for other people (and creatures and plants). He teaches us to look outside our own problems; to look beyond our own noses and actually see other people. This is something we care deeply about at UDA Creative Arts Preschool. We believe children can understand the concept that their actions affect others, and we emphasize important character traits like honesty, compassion, respect, and more every day.

In fact, our character trait we focus on during the month of March (the month of Dr. Seuss’s birthday) is compassion.

The children already have so much compassion for each other, and Dr. Seuss helps us to reinforce those important concepts. Hear his pleading to please, please consider the plights of others.

When you think things are bad,
when you feel sour and blue,
when you start to get mad… you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more…
oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”

–  Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

Even plants deserve to be thought of:

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.
I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” 

 

– The Lorax

It’s such a simple concept — trees cannot speak. So we must speak for them.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 

The Lorax

Not only can we care about other people, we can also do something to help them. That’s a powerful message for every child (and adult) to internalize.

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons — You’re Good Enough, and It’s Okay to Be Different

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss gave us the message that we have the power to transform our lives. We have responsibility over our own decisions, and we can change the outcome at any time.

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact.
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)
Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

It doesn’t matter what limitations you have. You are important and can do what you were made to do.

Don’t give up. I believe in you all.
A person’s a person no matter how small.”

Horton Hears a Who!

Today you are You, that is truer than true.
There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Happy Birthday to You!

 

Dr. Seuss Life Lessons – Live Life with Imagination

dr. seuss life lessons

Dr. Seuss created illustrations, stories, and characters that were so different from anything that had ever been done before. He showed us that we aren’t limited by what is real. We can create our own worlds. He used words in new ways, and didn’t limit himself to established rules.

He showed us that creativity and imagination are valuable traits to develop.

Think left and think right and think low and think high.
Oh the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

Oh, the Things You Can Think

We subscribe heavily to this belief that creativity drives our learning. That’s why we incorporate art, music, creative movement, dance, science, math, and so much more into every single day of learning at UDA Creative Arts Preschool in Draper. Each day we are amazed by how the children cement important life and academic concepts through the creative arts. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930, or send us a message  to arrange a tour to see how we enrich the lives of preschoolers every day!

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, Dr. Seuss

What’s Happening at UDA Creative Arts Preschool — D Is for Dinosaur

We have so much fun at UDA Creative Arts Preschool, and our themed weeks create a framework for important concepts to be taught while enjoying subjects that interest the children (and adult teachers!). 

Recently, we had a blast during our “D Is for Dinosaur” week. We packed in plenty of roaring fun, hands-on learning, fine-motor skill development, history lessons, science lessons, movement and music activities, a field trip, and so much more. We’re busy from the moment the children to arrive to the time they’re picked up!

Paleontologists in Training

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

The children were thrilled to pretend to be paleontologists with their own tools (a mallet, a plastic knife that acted as a chisel, and a brush) and unearth dinosaur skeletons from blocks. While they had an absolute blast, this activity also helped to develop hand/eye coordination.

d is for dinosaur

Digging through the sensory bin of sand, the children found plastic dinosaur pieces and put them together to make a dinosaur skeleton. Not only did the field of paleontology become more familiar to them, but they developed visual discrimination skills with this activity.

Dinosaur Habitat in a Box

d is for dinosaur

Everyone added a new word to their vocabulary: Habitat.

Together, we looked at books and photos of dinosaurs and talked about what it would have looked like where they lived and what they would have needed to survive. Then, with sand, play dough, plastic trees, plastic dinosaurs, and more, each child made their own dinosaur habitat. They included volcanoes, hot lava, a river or lake, and more. Some children even added nests and eggs because they remembered we had learned that dinosaurs hatch from eggs. We love when concepts come together like this!

Dinosaur Stomp

d is for dinosaur

During creative movement class, we moved like dinosaurs in a dinosaur stomp. We also sang songs that helped the children learn to distinguish between different dinosaurs.

Playing Is Learning

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Children learn through play, so dinosaurs are heavily featured in our play and art time as well. We even incorporated dinosaurs into our letter and number recognition activities.

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

d is for dinosaur

Finally, we took advantage of being so close to the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point. Everyone enjoyed this fun field trip where the children could get even more hands-on dinosaur experience with their parents.

UDA Creative Arts Preschool believes in developing the whole child through a variety of multisensory activities. Give us a call at (801) 523-5930 to arrange a visit and see what we’re up to.

Let’s Play — Why Your Child Needs Play-Based Learning

play-based learning

Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a hazard of modern life. We want what our neighbors have. And try as we might, we just can’t shake this competition when it comes to parenting. Even the least-affected among us want our children to excel academically, socially, physically, and more.

And we naturally worry when it seems like our child is falling behind. But in the rush to make sure our kids keep up, we sometimes focus too heavily on academics, sports, and more. While these components of childhood are all important, we may forget one very important thing:

Play.

play-based learning

It may look like our kids are just wasting time when they’re playing, but it’s actually a critical component of their development. In fact, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights even recognizes play as a right of every child!

Read on to learn why play is so important at home and at school — and how you can make sure your child gets enough of it!

The Many Benefits of Play-Based Learning

Children need to learn their ABCs and 123s, and play is one way to effectively make that happen. When you incorporate fun into regular lessons, children just get it.

But the benefits of play-based learning extend far beyond academics. Play develops imagination, cognitive strength, and dexterity. It allows children to have control over their environment, giving them confidence and the ability to master what they’re doing. It helps children face fears in a safe space, and it lets them practice adult roles. They learn how to work in groups, to negotiate, and to advocate for themselves. They learn to try on different interests, and find what they’re really passionate about.

And that’s all just from unstructured play!

play-based learning

When a teacher uses guided play as a teaching tool, she can ensure her students build vocabulary skills, gain background knowledge on subjects being taught, and even push through academic challenges.

Indeed, researchers have determined that successful learning contains four key ingredients. The best learning happens when children are:

  • Mentally active
  • Engaged
  • Socially interactive
  • Building meaningful connections to their lives

Think of the last time you watched your child play. Whether you noticed it at the time, chances are good that you saw all of those ingredients mixing together for a deliciously fun time of learning.

How Parents Can Incorporate Play-Based Learning at Home

  • Make time for it! In your own life, you probably won’t relax unless it’s part of a daily ritual or if it’s put on the calendar. But much as you suffer when you don’t leave time for relaxation, children suffer when they don’t have time to play. Include it in your daily routines.
  • Step back. You don’t have to direct your child’s play. If your child calls a dinosaur a parrot, don’t correct her. Let her direct her own play. She’s building worlds of imagination.
  • But play with them too! There’s a time to step back, and there’s a time to engage. Playing with your child gives you a front-row seat to the stage of your child’s mind. It’s beneficial for both of you when you get down on your child’s level and play. But the key? Follow your child’s lead. Don’t take over. Don’t make judgment calls on his decisions. Just do what he does, and follow his lead.
  • Provide materials. Give your child new materials to play with — fabric pieces, play-doh, ribbon, dry pasta, empty tissue boxes… you get the idea. Don’t give any direction; just let them play.
  • Go outside. A change of scenery opens the mind. Head out to your backyard, to the park, or to a nature spot and see what your child comes up with.
  • Allow for mistakes. Learning happens when children are allowed to make mistakes.
  • Appreciate your children’s efforts. Display their artwork, tell them you’re impressed that they continued to build a block tower even when it kept toppling over, and praise them for being kind to playmates.
  • Get messy. (Well, as much as your comfort level will allow!)

play based learning

Need some ideas for what you can do together? Try these on for size:

  • Draw with chalk outside
  • Read books
  • Put puzzles together
  • Dress up
  • Play together at the playground
  • Go for a walk
  • Dance to music
  • Play board games or card games
  • Play with puppets
  • Arrange or sort tiny toys or trinkets
  • Do housework together
  • Kick, throw, or bounce a ball
  • Jump in leaf piles
  • Play hopscotch
  • Draw, paint, or color

Remember — while there is much you can do with your child, she also benefits from playing on her own. Don’t stress about how you play, how often you play, or if you’re playing the right things. Just allow for play — structured and unstructured — in your home.

At UDA Creative Arts Preschool, we take a play-based learning approach in our classrooms. We guide children to use their imagination to help concepts stick, learn new ways of doing things, and more.