By Barbara Pronin
Aah, summer vacation! How we love having our kids at home without the stress of schedules and homework – and how hard it can be to keep boredom at bay after the first few days of freedom!
For stay-at-home parents, or nannies or sitters, Moneycrashers.com, a family-friendly site that encourages wise choices, suggests four simple ways to keep kids busy, engaged, and anything but bored without breaking the bank:
Visit a local U-pick farm – Go to LocalHarvest.org to find a farm near you, and expose your kids to the joys of picking and enjoying a variety of fruits and veggies. Extend the adventure by cooking or baking with the harvested foods, and watch even the pickiest eaters open up to a new taste experience.
Watch a nature cam – There are some amazing nature cams set up by universities and conservatories all over the world, and they can be a fun and educational way for children to learn about nature when it’s too hot to play outside. A few live cams to check out are:
– Africam, which has cameras set up all over Africa
– Explore.org, whose cameras capture everything from the Aurora Borealis in Manitoba to the Nanak River in Alaska
– Monterey Bay Sea Otter Cam, for a peek into the sea otter exhibit
– Monterey Bay Coral Reef Cam, which streams a coral reef exhibit
– HD on Tap, which provides feeds from all over the country, from whales in California to nesting ospreys.
Rock painting – Got budding artists? Gather a selection of smallish rocks in varying shapes and sizes. Get out the acrylic paints or fine tip markers and let the kids use their imagination to create pirates, snowmen, animals and more. They can even build their creations around a theme- the circus, the zoo, the sea – and put on plays starring their own rock stars.
Do some good – Kids can learn the joy of volunteering to help make the world a better place:
– Make placemats to donate to Meals on Wheels
– Take plastic gloves and bags to the local park and pick up trash
– Donate a few of their stuffed animals to StuffedAnimalsforEmergencies.org- Collect outgrown or unused clothing, toys and blankets and donate them to a homeless shelter