School's almost out for summer.
Anyone counting down knows the last day of school is June 26. And while the summer is a time to relax and recharge, it's also important to limit the TV time and keep children's minds and bodies active.
"It doesn't have to seem academic to be fun and to be learning," says Sally Tannen, director of 92Y's Parenting Center and a grandmother to three tweens herself. "And there's just a plethora of things to do all over New York."
If you're looking to plan some enriching activities over the next two months of free time, it's just a matter of tailoring your kids' interests, she says.
For example, a child that loves fish can head to Van Cordlandt Park in the Bronx or Central Park's Harlem Meer and get fishing, suggests Tannen. Other outdoor activities might include bird watching, examining wild flowers, shopping at the farmer's market or collecting shells at the beach.
"Then you can go to the public library and find all the books you can find about whatever you've been looking at," Tannen says.
A rainy day at the museum can also be tailored to a child's interests.
"Instead of wandering around, count how many times you see a lady in blue in a picture, or how many snakes you see or men in armor," Tannen says.
Each activity can be followed up with a project, such as making a photo album of the trips or a guide to the places you've visited or a cookbook.
"Help them with a focus, and then record it somehow, either by taking a picture of if then turning it into a book at the end of the day or summer," Tannen says.
Before you get started -- don't throw that backpack in the back of the closet just yet. Tannen recommends putting together a summer backpack to help with your explorations.
"For little kids put a magnifying glass, for slightly older binoculars, and a camera, sketchpad, colored pencils, water and healthy snacks -- have a set bag of tricks that's their own," Tannen says. "Think of this summer as an incredible time to explore New York."
Play inside on a rainy day:
It's always good to have an easy rainy day activity on hand. And for that, Sally Tannen, director of 92Y's Parenting Center, recommends this easy play dough recipe for kids 5 and under. "Play dough is wonderful for kids, it's a very relaxing, open-ended material for them to play with," she says. "Making play dough is a great activity -- it's very simple, takes 3 minutes to make, and then you have it for a while."
Homemade play dough
1 cup flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
- Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan.
- Cook over low to medium flame and stir constantly until the mixture comes together into a ball (about 5 minutes).
- Store in a sealed plastic container when not using.