Fun in the Sun

WNY packed with exciting, fun things for youngsters to do this summer

By Nancy Cardillo

Wegmans Food Markets offers many opportunities for kids to learn about foods and nutrition, including its popular hands-on “Cooking With Kids” classes. Photo courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets.
Wegmans Food Markets offers many opportunities for kids to learn about foods and nutrition, including its popular hands-on “Cooking With Kids” classes. Photo courtesy of Wegmans Food Markets.

Tick tock, parents.

That’s right, in just a matter of days, your precious little bundles will step off that school bus for the last time this school year, leaving you with approximately 65 days of having to repeatedly hear, “Mommmmm, I’m BORED. There’s nothing to DOOOOO!”

Are you ready?

Have you thought through how you will keep your kids occupied this summer?

If you’re a planner and think ahead, you’ve likely already signed up your kids for one of the many summer camps around Western New York, whether it’s an every-day camp such as at Camp Centerland or the nearby YMCA or a specialty camp, such as an arts, sports, academic, sailing or nature camp.

Good for you! There certainly are many options in and around Western New York to indulge your child’s favorite pastimes.

It may not be too late to sign up your kid. Visit www.buffalosummercamps.org for a complete list of camp options.

However, if your little darlings won’t be packing off to camp every day or at all, then you’re going to need options, lots of options. Maybe you need activities that appeal to various ages. Maybe you’d like to engage your child’s brain to keep the learning skills sharp over summer, or want to keep your child physically active.

And don’t forget backup options for dreary, rainy days or excessively hot days.

No ideas? Don’t panic! Take a yoga breath and keep reading.

Lazy summer days

Below are some creative ideas to help pass those lazy, hazy days of summer.

• Play dates are always a good idea. Reach out to the parents of your kids’ friends and set up a regular schedule, alternating houses. Everybody wins.

• How about using the summer to research your family’s history with your kids? Call up Grandma or an aunt or uncle. Use online resources. Locate and ID old family photos.

Then fill in the gaps, organize the information and create a book. Not only will your kids learn about their roots, they’ll have that information long after you’re gone and can add to it someday with their kids.

• Another great way to learn about history is to take a walk or a tour through a local cemetery.  Learn about local history and famous Buffalonians, especially those for whom our streets are named. Learn what the various symbols on tombstones actually mean. Learn about flora and fauna. and, speaking of tours, there are plenty of guided tour options in and around Buffalo. Start here: www.explorebuffalo.org.

Or make a point to explore your city, town or village. Each day, pick a different spot to visit and learn about. Stop by the library to learn about local history. Visit several ice cream shops or pizza places and see which ones you’d rate “the best.”

Prepare a meal

The Buffalo Museum of Science offers opportunities for kids to explore, discover, wonder, reason, reflect, observe and, most importantly, question through its many exhibits, events, workshops and classes. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Museum of Science.
The Buffalo Museum of Science offers opportunities for kids to explore, discover, wonder, reason, reflect, observe and, most importantly, question through its many exhibits, events, workshops and classes. Photo courtesy of Buffalo Museum of Science.

If you’re raising a budding chef, make it about cooking and food. Pour through recipes and plan meals, and shop together for the ingredients. By the way, grocery stores are a great place to teach kids about nutrition, budgeting, label reading and telling the good ingredients from the bad. Then come home and cook the meals together.

Bake bread for an elderly neighbor or a cake for someone’s birthday. What kid wouldn’t want to make ice cream on a hot summer day?

• How about planting a butterfly, native perennials or herb-vegetable garden? Let your kids be involved in choosing what to plant and in helping to maintain the garden.

Then, when harvest time comes, find some new recipes to make with your bounty. Not that ambitious? Take your kids to the farmer’s market and try a new veggie or herb each week or spend the day picking whatever fruit is in season.

• Are your kids artsy? How about a driveway chalk mural competition, or have them design and create the family holiday card. Grab an old table or chair and let them paint it however they’d like for their room. Check out more ideas here: www.artprojectsforkids.org.

• For sports enthusiasts, the possibilities are endless. Sign them up for tennis lessons, or if you’re good at a sport, teach your kids and their friends. Organize a water balloon baseball game. Or just turn on the hose or sprinkler and let them get wet! The town pool is a great way to cool off, too.

• Here are a couple no-brainer rainy or hot sultry day options: Go to the movies, visit a museum or stay home and complete a puzzle or do a craft project, such as building kites, milk carton boats or pipe cleaner creatures.

• Got a pile of old clothes waiting to be donated? Let your kids play dress up or put on a play. They can even write the play, compose the music and design the “sets.” Or, give them the family video camera or phone and let them make a video. That’ll keep ‘em busy and help them learn plenty of new skills.

• Science experiments are always fun. All you need is a large bottle of Coke and some Mentos, or buy a dozen eggs and have the kids figure out ways to secure and protect the eggs so they don’t break when dropped from a window.

Check out www.noguiltmom.com/very-simple-science-experiments/ for some simple science experiments the kids will enjoy.   

• Want to keep it simple? Take a walk, hike or bike ride with your kids. Pack a picnic lunch and head to the park or the back yard. Pick a topic and have a real conversation or debate.

• Check out these websites for more ideas for fun things to do this summer: www.buffalo.kidsoutandabout.com; www.wnyfamilymagazine.com or www.visitbuffaloniagara.com

Before you know it, it’ll be time to shop for school clothes and get into “back to school” mode. And you’ll wonder just where the summer went!

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