What to do? What to do?

By now, many of my friends have got their children slotted for the summer. This summer, as in summers past, I am hearing over and over again this refrain:

“I’m trying not to over-schedule my kids this summer.”

Well, me too. Still, I panic a little about keeping them occupied and away from the video games/television/computer/internet/textingoncellphones and getting them OUT and MOVING and INTERACTING.

Here are some resources I’m gathering to “prepare our home” (ala Maria Montessori) for summer with opportunities should the kids be interested in picking them up:

1. An organized basement. One of the mundane delights in our move to our home in the suburbs was a basement with some room. It’s “semi-finished” in that it has dry-wall and we’ve put some area rugs down. A recent sump pump breakdown got us moving in finishing the unpacking and putting everything in its place. This is, I know, not an accomplishment for many of my acquaintances, but for us, it was like reaching the summit of Everest.

As a result, the kids already have a place to play “Mini-world” (under the stairs in a closet with a Billiard lamp hanging from the underside of the steps and carpet pieces on the floor). “Mini-world” is a game their cousin taught them and is played with all of those Lego and army and Playmobile people (maybe even Fisher Price people) you’ve gathered over the last 15 years.

They’ll have places to color and play “army guys” as well as build their Lego models and K’nex (thanks 3rd grade science!). Dad’s workbench is organized now, too, so they might be able to get cracking on some of the other opportunities waiting to be tackled.

2. The Boys’ or The Girls’ Book: How to be the Best at Everything. On spring break this year, I caved and bought this popular books for my two younger kids. They devoured them and did some of the activities. I suspect they will do more during the summer–very parent friendly, as after I bought the books, I could sit back and relax.

3. Make: technology on your time. A little more advanced, this may be a more appropriate magazine for your teenager, especially if he or she likes to tinker. I bought my copy at Schwartz Book shop–it’s a book price at $14.99, but if one of your kids actually made the battery-free remote control, that would be pretty cool! Imagine if a someone made sun-powered xylophones or DIY Solar Panels? Take that to the wood shop!

4. instructables.com While wandering the web one day, I stumbled on this very cool, very Web 2.0 site: www.instructables.com. Take a look at the instructions for making your own Moleskin notebook, using recyclable materials. So much better than Martha Stewart crafts at Michael’s! (Okay, so they’ll have to get on the internet, but at least they will get off the internet if they find a project that interests them.)

Our kids will still have plenty of scheduled time, but I’m hopeful that when they and the neighbor kids are home, they will feel free to wander a bit, take out the fishing poles, and, if they’d like, tackle some kid-initiated activities.

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