Summer is filled with opportunities for adventures that create learning and engagement opportunities for children. Time spent together and experiences are the most important gifts we can give. They are also key to transferring family values.
01 – A Summer Road Trip
Pack up those suitcases and take off on the open road! There’s some seriously beautiful country out there. Your 75″ 4K television will never compare to actually experiencing natural scenic wonders like the Grand Canyon in Arizona or Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
Consider places more above ground like the mountains of Montana or the Florida Everglades. The website “Traveling Mom” has some great suggestions here. Consider places your children have been studying in school or have read about otherwise and been particularly fascinated with.
Consider making or purchasing a travel journal to record things like pre-trip expectations and questions. Then add stories and keepsakes while you’re out in the world.
Recreating the Past
As a family, we like to recreate photos from the past whenever we’re out on the road. At left, Raising Families co-founder Elane V. Scott circa 1977(ish) at the Grand Canyon. To the right are her daughters on their own sisters’ road trip in 2007.
02 – Days (or Nights) at the Beach
Sand and sun are a staple of summertime for some (say that 10 times fast!) Here at the Raising Families offices, we argued a bit over this one. Some of us don’t like getting coated in sunblock and then getting covered in sand. Some others of us say, then why do you live near the beach? Because beach bonfires and nighttime are fantastic, too, we say! Nice breezes and no sticky sunblock required. That’s another blog topic, I guess.
For those who live in the desert or are anchored on urban concrete, some beautiful beach days might still sound wonderful! The sounds of the waves and the seagulls … the feeling of cool waves splashing over your feet. You could swim in the beautiful ocean and build sandcastles with the kids all day!
Whatever your preference, days or nights at the beach are a simple and inexpensive way to spend time together.
Whatever Makes You Happy
Days (or nights) at the beach can take many forms. Try visiting some local tidepools, go for an evening visit, or indulge in the cool water and warm sun. All are worthwhile adventures with the family.
03 – Camping (or Glamping!)
The great outdoors awaits you! This adventure may take you to a state park or an area with hiking trails and campsites. America has amazing national parks from Big Bend to Yellowstone. Think of the trails, tents, plus the smores and stories around a campfire.
If sleeping on the ground isn’t your (sleeping) bag (see what we did there?), plenty of parks offer simple cabins with mattresses and flushing toilets all the way to luxury glamping experiences. The point of a camping trip is to get out of your routine and shake things up. A little nature does the body good.
New Environments Teach New Skills
Everyday life often forces us into routines that may or may not highlight our best and truest selves. Camping is a great way to teach and learn from your family about what they are capable of and interested in, no matter their age or yours!
04 – A Baseball Game
Wouldn’t it be nice to sit in the stands and watch your favorite team play a game at home—the cheering crowd and seventh-inning stretch.
Sitting together and watching a game is as much about the sport as it is about the memories you’re building. It’s rude to talk through movies, but it’s expected at a ball game. Sometimes just being still together is a great way to connect.
Even if you’re not all that excited about baseball yourself, it’s worth exposing your children to a game or two. Baseball is such a big part of American culture, nostalgia, and our common language that it’s valuable to see where these references come from.
Check out this Wikipedia page about baseball idioms in the English language. Expressions like this make much more sense when you have a memory or experience to connect them to.
Professional or Local – It Doesn’t Matter
If a major league game isn’t an option for your family, a local game is just as worthy.
05 – A Star Party
Haven’t the foggiest idea what a star party is? Let us explain.
Most of the Raising Families team has been attending star parties at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas since we were tots. These types of events take place all over the country at both amateur gatherings and public observatories. A simple Google search will tell you where to find your nearest gathering.
A star party may begin with a video about the origins of the universe. The main attraction, of course, is then getting to look through various sized telescopes to see for yourself all the incredible features of the night sky. If you’re lucky you may be able to speak with an astronomer about what exactly the telescope is featuring that evening.
There’s usually hot chocolate involved and a good deal of storytelling besides.
- A little bit of prep work goes a long way. Start with talking about the night sky and what your kids may know about the universe. Constellations are often easy to identify. Do you know nearly every culture on earth has extensive stories associated with the night sky?
- Purchase a few books like this one, or try your local library for resources from scientific to mythical.
Building connections is your goal. Reading about stars, planets, and nebulae is fascinating. Seeing them in the sky with a powerful microscope is a whole new level. With a physical experience to look back on, it’s likely everything your child learns about space throughout their lives will be elevated by that positive association with the family trip to the observatory.
Need We Say More?