By Umm Zakariya – Reading and Creative Writing Coach at Fajr Academy, Karachi
“Summer time often becomes a test of endurance rather than a special time to enjoy children,” says P. M. Saeed in her book, “Summer Survival: A Guide for Mothers”. I am sure a lot of us, parents, would agree with her. We all look forward to the summer vacations so that we can enjoy some time with our children. But, as the days go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with the “I’m bored” chants. Eventually, hot, tired and out of ideas, the poor parents concede defeat and allow their children to spend their summer glued to the idiot box!
Here are some ideas to keep your kids occupied this summer and for you to spend some quality time with them as well!
Add 5 to 6 drops of colour to a half cup of household salt. Stir well and cook in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, you could spread the salt on brown paper and let it air dry. Store it in an airtight container. Use as glitter or to make coloured sand bottles.
Home-made Finger Paint
Mix 2 cups of flour with 2 tsp salt. Add 2 ½ cups of cold water. Stir until smooth. Gradually add this mixture to 2 cups of boiling water. Boil until smooth and thick. Add food colouring and stir until smooth – you’ll have lots of fun finger painting! Remember to wear an apron and use newspapers to avoid any mess.
You can use an empty roll-on deodorant bottle and fill it up with paint to make a giant paint pen or use an empty shoe polish bottle to make an excellent sponge painting tool.
Take an empty plastic bottle and cut it ten inches from the bottom. Place it in an old sheer pop sock and fill it with soil. Sprinkle rye or coriander seeds on top. Tie the top end of the sock in a knot. Make a face on the outside with old scraps of material. Water it and watch its hair grow through the sock. Remember to keep the Green Man moist.
Spray paint 1½ litre plastic bottle and put a little sand or water in the bottle to weighh it down to make bowling pins. Use any ball you have at home and see who can get a strike!
Build an Ant Farm
Find a large jar and a small jar that fits inside the bigger one. Place moist dirt and ants in the narrow space between the jars. Cover tightly. Keep soil moist and feed the ants breadcrumbs, dead insects, small pieces of meat or vegetables. Watch them and learn to be industrious.
Draw a simple picture on cardboard. In shallow containers, use food colouring to dye rice to different colours. Dip a toothpick in German glue and then pick up one grain of rice. Dip it in glue again and place the rice grain on the picture. If this sounds too tedious to your child, rice can be stuck in patches by directly applying glue on the picture and sprinkling rice over it. When the picture is completely covered with rice, brush a coat of glue diluted with water over the entire surface.
Peel broken or old crayons and put their shavings on a piece of paper. Fold the paper in half and place in between a folded newspaper. Now iron on top of the newspaper, keeping the iron setting low. Open the paper slowly to see a colourful surprise! You could also melt broken crayons in an old aluminum pan. Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes at 350 F degrees. Remove, cool and break into pieces to make new multi-coloured crayons.
Tie-and-Dye T-shirts (100% cotton is must)
Gather a small wad of the T-shirt in your hand and tightly wrap a rubber band around the gathered fabric. Repeat the procedure all over the shirt. Now dip the wads in different dyes (easily available from a dyeing shop.) Place in the sun to dry. Snap off the rubber bands and your tie-and-dye shirt is ready.
Summer time increases opportunities for family bonding. Involve fathers in these activities with the children:
Make a family tree. See how far you can trace back your ancestry!
Lay on a blanket in your garden (don’t forget the mosquito repellant!) and watch the stars or guess the shapes the clouds make.
Have a smile contest. See who smiles the most in a week.
Every week, post a brain teaser, riddle or word puzzle in a central place. The first one to give the answer wins a prize.
Have a family car wash day. Take your buckets, sponges and cloths and give your faithful family car a good summer cleaning!
Fly kites together. Try not to get into a tangle!
Have your children write a letter to themselves with their resolutions or goals. Go to the post office and let your children post it to themselves. Talk to the postman and other people to learn how we get mail.
Get together with a few mothers and make a group to visit a factory.
Check newspapers for art exhibitions. This is a good way to develop your children’s interest in different styles, mediums and techniques.
Drive around town or take a walk. See how many kinds of trees are in your area. Collect the leaves and identify them to make a scrapbook
Send the children on an outing with dad. Have them join up with other fathers and their children and go out for lunch.