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10 Ways to Make Summer Awesome for Your Kids

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Came across this great post on how to make summer awesome for your kids. Here's a clip: 

Summer can be stuffed with days that your kids will never forget and you will never regret. Simple, free ( or cheap! ) and designed to create a flow of magic summer memories, the following list contains my best ideas for every summer with my four kids, and hopefully your best summer with yours.

1. Start with a soundtrack. In the car and home, having one or two CD's of music that play off and on all summer layers the summer experience for your children -- it is a way of sealing experience into memory that gives it an added layer of texture: sound. Music. Pick a type of music that maybe you haven't listened to often or at all. We've done bluegrass, swing, French pop, Michael Jackson (his own catagory), and this summer we are listening to Starbucks New Orleans blues jam at home, and in the car a Disney song CD that has classical music as its underlying presence, layered with Disney voices singing random songs (not from Disney movies) like "Your Library" -- a song that completely delights me and has even hooked Lola and Emily, who are 10. To a thundering string section we hear "how far away is Neptune? / just what is a blue moon? / What did famous men say? / anything they said you'll find it here! / your library! / something to rely apon! / your library! / take a tip from Ludwig Von!" What is important is the repetition: the music must be played often and all summer, to seal the summer light, heat and laughter inside of it, to be released for the rest of their lives when they hear it play or remember the sound.

2. Find water. Enter. Repeat. The summer must include water play. Living in Southern California, we have access to beaches all year long, but nothing compares to the summer experience of a blistering hot day, the smell of sunblock, brightly colored towels, shouting, splashing, the feel of cold water against your skin, burning your feet on concrete, stuffing your face after swimming. Swimming has a particularly wonderful effect on children, both energizing and exhausting them, and even the most timid swimmer finds joy sitting in a foot of cold water and flexing their toes. Eating after swimming is incredibly wonderful, food tastes better and you are inevitably starving. Sitting in the kitchen wrapped in a towel, music playing quietly while eating black bean burritos with avocado and cheese, my kids are blissed out. We use the complex pool, but before we had one we used the community pool, and when we didn't use that we had a Wal-Mart plastic pool and a slip and slide out front on the lawn. All are awesome.

3. Surround them with books. A few times a week I load whatever kids are on hand and head toward Barnes and Noble. We go in the middle of the afternoon when it is blazing hot and after we've eaten lunch, and enter the air conditioned book sanctuary with a sigh. I order hot coffee, the older kids maybe have a cookie, maybe not, and I follow Ever around in the kid section while the other children browse and read. We usually end up staying for hours. Every now and then I squat and read Ever a book, but at 18 months she usually only follows along to one or two before she's ready to move. After a while, I hold a book or magazine in hand and read while following Ever. Sometimes at the end, Lola watches Ever while I browse. The books smell delicious, like nothing else. The effect of being surrounded with books is also like nothing else: an entire corniaopia of ideas, worlds, thoughts, experiences, hope, despair, hilarity, adventure, discovery, science, every fascinating thing you can think of is packaged and piled on the floor, on bookshelves and countertops. Whatever Lola is interested in, I find a book on it and drop it off with her casually "you might like this..." Last year she read a ton about sharks and Helen Keller. Dakota used to read animae, Calvin and Hobbes and books on dragons. Ian loved anything about old wars, guns and ninjas. Sometimes a child will find a book that sparks an interest they never even knew they had, and they will cry when you have to leave. (OK, so that last part isn't so amazing.) At home, we have books for adults and kids in every room, bookshelves in every room, and making quiet time almost every day where the groan "nothing to do" can be met with "find a book" is important. Boredom is the precursor to a lot of exploration, imagination and delving into things otherwise left alone. I also pick a few books to read out loud to my kids every summer. Right now I'm reading Bambi to Lola (and Ever by default).

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