Hurray -- school is out! Oh no, school is out!
Don’t panic if you weren't ready for your kids to be home every day until September. Here are some great boredom busters, last-minute summer camp suggestions and library programs that will help you prevent “summer brain drain” and keep you sane while your kids have fun all summer long.
Summer Boredom Busters to Stock Up On
If you have kids age 6 and younger, the No. 1 boredom buster item I recommend you acquire for this summer is a giant bubble wand set from Bothell-based Majic Bubble Wand company. I frequently bring my wands to parties and play dates and they are always a hit with kids of all ages, especially toddlers and pre-schoolers. You can purchase sets and individual wands online.
are great stores to stock up on all sorts of boredom busting toys including science kits, art supplies and outdoor play toys. For outdoor play, check out Stomp Rockets for teens for $20, Alex Stilts for age 5 and older ($35), Mini Kickboard micro scooters for age 3 and older ($80), the ultimate foam bow and arrow combo in the Z-curve bows for age 8 and older ($30). Green living kids might like the Paint a Birdfeeder kit for $15, Solar Print Paper for $8, which allows kids to create beautiful prints from nature, the Flower Press and Nature Card kit for $15 and a super cool recycled cardboard dollhouse that kids can decorate themselves. It includes the dollhouse, furniture and family and even pets for $30. You can stock up on all sorts of great art supplies and craft kits including a fantastic art spinner ($28), an art travel easel–great for long car trips ($30), and a Creativity for Kids race car kit ($18).
Other great resources for art supplies and craft kits in Bellevue include , Daniel Smith, , , and even office supply stores including and .
I also highly recommend Planet Happy in the University District in Seattle, which offers great summer boredom buster products including the Phd Flying Disc, the “fair trade” hand-made in Guatemala cloth flying disc that kids can play with indoor or out for $15; the amazing eco-friendly, foldable traveling beach pail Sandsac for $15 (large) or $13 (small); a design-your-own kite kit ($15); the Solar Rover Science Kit ($20) and the Stone Soup Planting Kit ($25) containing everything you need to grow and make your own “stone soup,” including the stone! The store also offers weekly craft activities and has a resident hedgehog my kids love to visit.
You can also put together your own “boredom buster kits” using shoe boxes and art supplies, junk mail, yarn etc., you can gather from around the house. I often find my kids will “rediscover” the stuff I already have lying around the house if I “repackage it” and “resell it” -- as in, “Hey, let’s make some inventions today, or create some art or go outside and build a fort from stones and decorate it with the stuff in this box.”
Another great “recycle something” idea is creating a giant sandbox by filling your old kiddie pool with sand. Toss in some buckets and shovels and you have the perfect backyard beach.
Summer Camps – There Are Still Some Great Options Available For Every Age and Interest
Are you feeling like a bad mommy because you missed signing up for summer camps back in February? Don’t worry--I found everyone some great camps this week, no matter your child’s age and interest, that still have openings. For nature lover kids ages 5 to 10, check out Summer Winds Day Camp in Snoqualmie where kids spend their days building forts, doing arts and crafts, and enjoying all kinds of old-fashioned games and outdoor fun. Camp director Becca Hall has a Master in Fine Arts degree and is a passionate advocate of kids engaged in fun, hands-on learning about nature while making lifelong happy memories of playing outside.
Horse-lover? Also in Snoqualmie is Rebecca Knapp’s Circle B ranch offering three-day horse camps in July and August that include learning about hands-on horse care, riding every day, and tons of horse-related fun. Knapp emphasizes safety, skills and fun. Contact her at CircleBRanch6@gmail.com.
The Bellevue Parks Department is a great resource for half- and full-day camps. You can download the summer camp brochure here. hosts a number of summer camps that include daily pool time and the Bellevue Boys and Girls club and Bellevue YMCA (with locations on and in ) also has many summer camp options for pre-schoolers to tweens. Bellevue Art and Frame is offering great art and math themed summer camps. Got a soccer lover? Check out Dan and Erin Redwine’s Bellevue soccer camps in July and August. Future rock stars might enjoy Dayjams Rock Music Camp at Forest Ridge School in July.
Bellevue Libraries Offer Programs To Help You Prevent Summer Brain Drain
One of my favorite photos from my childhood is of me proudly displaying my certificate of completion for the summer reading program at the Bainbridge Island Library. My mom made me wear a dress for the photo–that meant it was a big deal. The King County Libraries continue to save my summer as they offer cool, comfortable places to hang out, enjoy free kids programs, and load up on great summer reading for my kids, movies and music. My 9-year-old son can’t wait to get started this summer participating in the One World, Many Stories, summer reading program.
Beth Rosania, Children's Section Supervisor of the , and libraries, says that getting kids engaged in the summer reading program and encouraging them to read all summer long helps them avoid “summer brain drain.” Rosania stresses that research shows "kids can experience the loss of two to three months' worth of learning during the summer if they are not engaged in reading and that if this happens over several summers the losses accumulate. This not only affects their reading skills, but carries over to their ability to problem solve in the areas of math and science."
Luckily, reading even four to five books over the summer break can help prevent this loss. Rosania says the library's summer reading program is also designed to instill a lifelong love of reading in every child who participates. "We want them to know the pleasure of reading."
Information on the summer reading program and additional programs for children and their families can be found online. Prizes include a kaleidoscope and if kids complete the program by Aug. 31 they could win one of three laptop computers!
In addition to the summer reading program, there are lots of great free programs happening all summer for you to enjoy with your kids at the sponsored by the Bellevue Friends of the Library. Preschoolers and older can enjoy music from around the world at the Toy Boat performance on July 11 at 2 p.m. Ages 3 and older can marvel at the World of Magic with Louie Foxx on July 25 at 2 p.m. Mad Science presents the Wacky Wonderful World of Science, for ages 5-11, on Aug. 5 at 11 a.m. Tales of the Trickster, presented by Live Paint, features tales and a craft for ages 3-7 on Aug. 8 at 2 p.m. And every Wednesday at 7 p.m. from June 22 to Aug. 10, the Family Film Festival program presents popular movies for the whole family.