This has been an incredibly difficult time for all of us. COVID-19 took a lot from us, but let’s not look past what it also gave us. It gave us the opportunity to spend more time with our families, more play time with our kids, time to pick up a new hobby, and to read that book that’s been collecting dust on the shelf. With that being said, this time has been especially hard for our children. Many don’t understand why they can’t go to school, why they can’t be with their friends, and why they can’t go outside to play. Thankfully, we have now reached Phase 4 of the Chicago reopening plan! Stress and anxiety, in us and our children, have this ability to build up when surrounded by four walls with no feeling of escape. It’s time to step outside of those four walls and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Safely! We have put together a few tried and true DIY activities that you can safely enjoy with your kids outside.
1. Chalk Paint
Chalk paint is a simple activity that involves only 3 ingredients: cornstarch, water, and food coloring. The recipe can be cut down by the desired amount of paint and the amount of water can be reduced to produce the desired consistency.
Bonus: Use this as a learning activity for color exploration and following directions when mixing ingredients!
- 3 cups cornstarch
- 2-4 dashes of food coloring, various colors
- 3 cups of water, use more or less depending on desired consistency
- 4-6 plastic bowls, or a 6-cup muffin pan works great as a paint tray
- Paint brushes, preferably 1” or larger
- Food coloring
2. Iceberg Exploration
This activity makes a great way to cool off on a warm day! Simply place small toys in balloons or cups, fill with water until the toy is covered, and freeze overnight. Once the icebergs are made, place them on the warm sidewalk and let your child chip away at it with a spoon or any play tools that they may have. The warm sidewalk makes the ice a bit easier for them to break. We’ve used a toy screwdriver, spoon, and toy hammer to break the ice.
- Balloons, muffin pan, or plastic (disposable if preferred) cups
- Small toys
- Spoon or play tools
3. Pet Rock Painting
Has your child been bothering you to get a pet and you’re just not ready for one or don’t want one? Make a pet rock with them! Go on a walk and help them find the perfect rock that they would like to make into a pet. They can feed the pet rock leaves, sticks, or dirt as a pretend play activity.
4. Painting with Nature
You can create a scavenger hunt or play “I Spy” when gathering materials during a walk for this painting activity. We’ve used flowers, pinecones, various leaves, and rocks to make paintings. Simply gather the materials and dip them into paint to make a beautiful picture!
5. Ultimate Hopscotch
The classic hopscotch game can become tired and worn. You can spruce it up by adding fun squares that require different movements and include a hula-hoop or jump rope if you have them. Inside the squares you can write the ABCs, 123s, and even spinning, jumping, or draw emotion faces and have them show that emotion when they land in the square. Since baseball fields in community parks are open during Phase 4, we’ve used sticks to draw hopscotch in the dirt!
Getting outside is extremely beneficial for your heart and your health. During these circumstances, we must make sure we are taking extra precautions for our health when in a community setting. All of these activities can be done on the sidewalk in front of your home, your backyard, or even a vacant parking lot. Be safe, exercise precautions, and enjoy your summer!