Fun in a Jar {Summer activity idea for children!}

October 1, 2013: What a fail.  I wrote this post back in July and never published it!  I figure better late than never.  It will be here for reference and I’ll link to it next summer.  Or just change all the “summer” words to “fall” and enjoy! 🙂

You may have noticed in my post Keeping a Summer Schedule for Your Child this picture and what’s written toward the bottom:

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so today I’m here to explain our Tuesdays and Fridays and what “local fun” and “special fun” means!

I work part-time and even though it’s only a few hours those three days, it doesn’t leave much time to go a long distance or do most outdoor activities.  Goob will either want to stay home anyway since he hasn’t been there all day, or I’ll just use those days as our appointment/errand days.

So the goal as a part-time working momma is to maximize the two days I do get to be with my little man all day!

I know how easily the summer can escape from us and how tempting it is to be lazy around the house watching television or playing on the Wii.  Those things have their time and place, but in declaring this summer the Summer of Fun, I want to make sure I’m taking Goob to fun new places, learning about new things {even in the summer}, and seeing as much as there is to see in our beautiful city.

Even if those adventures don’t always turn out like how you plan. 😉

I am very much about involving Goob in decision-making as much as I can, especially when it affects him.  And so I came up with an idea to make sure we had a way to hit all the places we wanted to see and things we’d like to do, but make it a little spontaneous and him more willing to compromise on locales that may not have been his first choice.  {Life can be a bit boring if it’s too planned, don’t you think?}

First, we made a list on my iPad mini of the things we hoped to accomplish in the summer a few days after school let out.  {It’s important to let those first few days just be a time of rest for their little minds!  No chores, no works, no errands, etc.  R-E-S-T!}

IMG_1136{Local friends reading this; click on the picture to make it larger so you can steal some of our ideas! :)}

Of course, we’ve added things to the list as we remember activities we forgot to include or I see ideas and events online.  This was just a foundation.  Listing out activities made it a joint decision so it wasn’t just me as the momma bear determining what WE would do this summer.  It also gives us something to look forward to!

Next, I grabbed some construction paper and wrote these activities out on a strips of paper.

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 I then grabbed a jar I scored from the clearance section at The Container Store, which I was waiting to find a purpose for.  Throw them in and voilà!  Fun in a jar.

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I love that on Tuesday and Friday mornings, Goob will ask, “Can we pick from the jar today?  It means this wasn’t just a lame idea {well, maybe it is!} but that he really thinks it’s fun!

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So what is “local fun” and “special fun”?  It’s important to not go overboard, both because vacation shouldn’t feel rushed or pressured and because the money isn’t flowing either!  Local fun keeps us close to home and costs nothing at all.  Special fun {I couldn’t think of anything else to call it!} involves some travel and spending money.  Having written out things that are in the jar though, I know to scout online for deals or simply put aside money for when the times come that Goob picks it out of the jar.

I differentiated the type of activity by the color of the paper.  {Lesson learned for next year to get two small jars.  Goob still has fun closing his eyes and hoping he picks the right color!}

Here he is picking a “local activity” last Tuesday.  We either play baseball in our backyard or go to a local ballfield.  It’s versatile, and that’s important too depending on what kind of day you are having!

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Of course, with any idea there’s a learning curve.  I realized that for the “special fun” on Fridays, it was not the best idea to pick the place the morning of as it eliminated the possibility of asking friends to join us.  So though it defeated the original purpose of spontaneity, Friday’s pick has to be a bit pre-planned.

As with any ideas you’ll ever see me post about, it’s so super important to remember to be flexible.  You are not tied down to this!  I am happy to say that most of July was filled up with playdates, trips to places like Six Flags, and so forth.  We did not need to pick from a jar, because life planned itself.  We’ve only used this idea in the past couple of weeks, but it’s been good.  It encourages us to get out.

You might pick something and the weather may not be cooperating or, as was the case one day, Goob kept picking activities we both really were just not up to doing.  So you know what?  YOU make up your own rules.  And we did.  We just kept picking, laughing each time, until he picked something we were happy with.  {And that will be featured in an upcoming post!}  The jar of fun is a guideline and in no way is it meant to be restrictive or taken as law.  What’s the fun in that?

Now it’s your turn!  Tell me any fun ideas you’ve had to keep your little ones occupied in the summer months.

Are you more of a planner? Or do you like to be spontaneous? Do you just go with where the wind takes you or make a conscious decision the morning of about where you’ll be going that day?

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What’s in your jar? 🙂

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