Keeping Busy in Summertime

Slime, Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Courses, Paint by Stickers and More!

Joss has informed me that I work too much. This is because we spent the first week of summer with me working from home, before he went to camp. It was apparently a bad experience for him, and not only do I work too much, but summer vacation is “the worst.” Yes, I tried to balance the work with fun activities. Yes, I’ve explained many times why it’s important that I work. But that has trouble sinking in in the midst of schedule changes and late bedtimes, etc.

I asked Joss if he’d like to help me come up with a bucket list of things we can do together this summer. I do want to make sure that we spend time together in addition to all the camps he’ll be in! So far, we’ve gone to Roppongi for ramen and Kakigōri; Summer’s Fifth Night at Utica Square; a Tulsa City-County Library concert; Tulsa Tough etc. We’ve also made multiple sidewalk chalk obstacle courses (which we re-draw on the daily thanks to all the rain!).

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Joss is over the heat already. His favorite part of Tulsa Tough was visiting the Woody Guthrie Center.

But despite all that, our summer got off to a rocky start, and that’s been a little discouraging.

Homemade Slime

If your kids have already complained of boredom this summer, please check out our June issue feature article, Joss and I made the “foaming slime” recipe, and although the process was a lot of fun, he didn’t like the texture. We also tried this recipe a few weeks ago, which he personally preferred: The two recipes/methods are very different, so why not try both?!

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Sidewalk Chalk Obstacle Course

We first started making these back in summer 2020. And they’ve stuck! If you’ve got a sidewalk in front of your property, a driveway, front porch, etc., buy a large bucket of sidewalk chalk. It’s a great summer activity! Joss keeps trying to get me to look up “super challenging sidewalk chalk obstacle courses.” I told him that Google is going to keep showing me the same results, but if he wants to make the obstacle courses more challenging, he can come up with his own ideas.

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Here are some ideas stolen from the internet:

1. Follow the line

Draw a continuous, circuitous chalk line for people to follow. Easy enough!

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2. Get a workout

Draw stars to indicate star jumps. Draw double arrows or trace feet to indicate regular jumps. Have a “black hole” that people have to run in place to get out of.

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3. Educational twists

Use chalk to draw a bunch of circles in a sidewalk square. Choose a word (ex: “cat”). Write the letters C, A and T in three of the circles, one letter per circle. Fill in the remaining circles with other letters of the alphabet. The person doing the obstacle course has to find the correct letters and jump only in those circles to progress.

For a math-based twist, draw rectangles and place simple math problems in them, making sure to leave out one key number. Choose a number – for example, 5. The person doing the course has to solve the problems and only progress by stepping on the boxes where the correct answer is five.

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Back to literacy, you can make a series of rhyming paths. Again, draw circles/rectangles, and fill them with rhyming words. Make two or three different paths, so young kids have to read the words to follow the same rhymes to the end.

4. Watch out for sharks!

Elevate your obstacle course with some fun scenery. For example, draw a wooden “plank” across shark infested waters. The idea is to balance by only stepping on the plank. Another cute idea is a “Zombie Run.” Draw zombie arms sticking out from the sides of the sidewalk, on both the left and right sides. The child has to weave left and right to avoid the zombie arms.

5. Photo backdrops

Of course, when you’re done with obstacle courses, you can always draw fun photo backdrops. These can be either for a human or a stuffed animal. 🙂 Do another Google search for some fun ideas. Last year, we did a surfboard, waves and simple tropical island. Joss enjoyed posing on the surfboard. This year, we made a few outer-space scenes for his dodo. As you do.

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Hanging Out On the Car

Strangely, Joss’s favorite thing to do this summer has been hanging out on or in the car. Now that the weather is so hot, I’m guessing this desire will curb a bit. But I think he likes having his own space? And knowing that he’s enjoying it someplace that’s probably not mom’s first pick of places to hang out. But doesn’t both me toooo much. 🙂 Last week, he wanted to do a painting project on the trunk, so I grabbed a “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book to read while he created. And although my car is now more colorful than it was before that day, it was a fun, random thing to do.

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Speaking of painting (and obstacle courses), I am purely sharing this because I am very glad to be done/proud. But another thing we like to do is draw obstacle course pictures. Joss does an outline, complete with different “rooms.” My job is to pencil in obstacles in each room, and then paint everything. He gives input as far as what the obstacles should be and what colors different elements are. This past weekend, I just finished our BIGGEST ONE YET, which is now hanging in Joss’s bedroom. Yay!!

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Paint by Stickers – and Giveaway!

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Someone offered to send Joss and I a copy of the new “Paint by Stickers: Plants and Flowers” book. Joss and I have already done a few of these books but aren’t working on a particular one at present. So I said, “Yes, please!” And promised to write about it here. If you’re not familiar with Paint by Stickers, it’s quite like it sounds. There’s an unfinished image with numbered spaces, and you fill those spaces in with the corresponding stickers. There are easier versions for kids, but Joss has done enough, he’s up for this challenge. Although usually we work together because when there are lots of tiny stickers to place, it can be a bit daunting!

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Joss couldn’t wait till we got home to begin!

In the past, we’ve done a Halloween-themed Paint by Stickers, as well as classic art. The Plants and flowers one is unique because on the back of each page, you get some information about the plants.

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The whole Paint by Stickers concept is interesting. In general, I’d much rather paint with paint…but this is a low-mess way to pass the time. It’d probably be a good screen-free car trip or waiting room activity, for example. And it does require attention to detail and a little patience. Plus, with this particular version, you learn about some unique plants – some of which I’d never even heard of before!

Anyway, in addition to the book they sent Joss and I, they sent an extra one for a giveaway! So follow @tulsakids on Instagram, and we’ll be doing a giveaway of that sometime this week. Literal hours of entertainment, for free, and you can’t beat that! 🙂

Sotw Summer Pin

Categories: Spaghetti on the Wall