For as long as I’ve known myself, many of my ideas for having fun have been off the wall. When I was young I did things like teach a bird to fly and teach a dog how to play the ukulele, play turtle, turn lights off and on and she even learned left from right (not politics). Details on those events will come after I share some summer activities for your kids to do for some off-the-wall fun.
The Giant Slingshot
If you’re blessed with a tree in your yard that has created a natural slingshot shape with its branches, you can make a giant slingshot. When we’ve had big family get-togethers, we set up our maple tree to be a big slingshot. We use beanie babies for ammo and we get surgical tubing at the hardware store for the stretchy part of the weapon. The kids can try to catch the stuffed animals or they can just see who can shoot the animals the farthest.
Let the kids get into the costume closet (all SHEs have a collection of costumes) and let them go trick-or-treating at the neighbor’s homes. You’ll be surprised what they’ll come home with! Depending on the month in summer they’ll bring home everything from produce to candy to money.
Chipmunking and Squirreling
If you have chipmunks or squirrels in your yard, all you’ll need is a fishing pole with the hook removed, a small cloth bag with a drawstring and peanuts either shelled or in their shells. Put the nuts in the cloth bag and tie it to the fishing line. We have a deck to “fish” off of, but you can always go to a park and use a picnic table as your “boat.” You can “chum” the “waters” by throwing some peanuts out before you actually put your line in.
Chipmunk on!!! Fishermen love to yell out “fish on” when they’re out fishing and the only difference with chipmunking is that you don’t catch the animal you just play with it. It’s fun when one gets hold of the bait and runs with it. You get to feel the same way you do when a fish bites. There were times when a squirrel would hold on and be lifted off the ground before it’d let go. This activity doesn’t harm the animals and it’s a good time to have a squirrel talk if you’re going to play with the squirrels. It isn’t good to try and make friends with squirrels. Teach your kids to keep their distance from them, in other words if you’re squirreling don’t real them in close to you. Let them play with the bag of nuts at a distance.
If you’re lucky to have a friendly neighborhood that usually gets together in the summer, this is a great activity for the children. Make a treasure hunt where each note leads the hunters to the next note and then the next until the children reach the treasure. The parents each bring a gift for their own children (keep it secret) and while the kids are off following the notes, the treasure spot will contain all the gifts the parents brought with their children’s names on their gifts. It ends up being a fun, Christmas-like gift opening and the gifts are usually summer activity gifts like Frisbees, balls, squirt guns and such.
Teaching a Robin to Fly
Okay, I rescued a baby robin one summer when I was about nine. I dug up worms and fed it, kept it warm, taped electrical tape on my bicycle handlebars so he could perch and not slide off while we went on extended bike rides together. When it came to flying I decided the best way for him to learn was to throw him out of my upstairs bedroom window. I tied yarn to his little ankle with plenty of length to let him fly to the lawn below. (I wasn’t ready to have him fly away.) He loved it! I’d go downstairs, bring him back up, throw him out the window and he’d be ready to do it again. Once he was sure of himself, I let him fly at will. It didn’t take him long for him to find his freedom and choose nature to me. For a little while he’d come to me and perch on my shoulder, but one afternoon he left and didn’t come back.
Teaching my Dog Special Tricks
Emmy was a moppy looking dog and weighed about 15 pounds. She was my ukulele playing dog and would strum the ukulele while I played the chords to a song. She wouldn’t quit until a song was finished. I always felt she was musical and just knew when the song was done. She also would go under a footstool, stand up and carry the stool around at the command, “play turtle.” She could also climb a step stool and turn a light on or off with her nose. I taught Emmy to eat from my right or left hand on command. I could put a huge piece of meat in my right hand and a cracker in my left and tell her to eat from my left hand and she’d take the cracker, even though the piece of meat would have been her choice.
Letting your children teach an animal a trick is a great activity. It takes patience and respect for animals.
This book of poems for children was written from my experience with kids and remembering what it was like to be a kid. It's now priced at $5 plus postage.