Lately, my family has been traveling a lot. Last summer, we went to Toronto and Niagara Falls. In the fall, we drove to Florida, hitting South Carolina, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. at points during the journey. This year, we’ve already had one major trip and are planning another for Memorial Day weekend. This doesn’t even include all of the road trips to see family and our daily/weekly adventures in and around the New England area.
We love to explore, but I could use a little downtime. My 8-year-old son, however, is a different story. He needs to keep busy. I’m usually great with planning vacations, but not so organized when it comes to our time at home. In fact, I usually spend a lot of that time doing work and/or chores, all while expecting him to amuse himself or play outside. I want this April vacation to be something special, even though we won’t be experiencing new people, places, and stuff. Here are six simple things I have planned for our week together:
1. Cooking Sessions. Thanks to two seasons of Master Chef Junior, my son has been enamored with cooking. Recently, he finished an after-school cooking program and took a one-day, Easter-themed cake decorating class offered by a local bakery. However, I know he longs to cook with mom. An absolute perfect thing to do together in the kitchen is to make pizza. It’s fun to put your (clean) hands in the dough, create different shapes, and even choose favorite (and sometimes unconventional) toppings. There are a million recipes for dough on the web, which are both easy and really cheap to make. I probably make dough once a week, but find bakery and supermarket dough to be both cheap and easy as well. Buying it also seems to deliver the best chewy texture, in my opinion, because of the gluten content.
2. Photo Scavenger Hunt. My son will do anything to get time with his Nintendo DS, as well as any smartphone or tablet. He loves taking a million pictures with all of them, and most of the time, the results are pretty entertaining. I’ve been wanting to see what he would do with the Nature Photo Scavenger Hunt that GeekMom Kelly put together for PBS Parents. I’m also planning to incorporate a few New England-specific items, such as “last patch of snow,” “Red Sox lawn ornaments,” and “lobster traps.”
3. Lego Challenges. We’ve had piles and piles of Legos forever now. Literally. It seems like forever. I know I’ve stepped on enough for a lifetime. However, only recently has my son been really interested in building with them. He always seemed to get frustrated with the kits. I mean, after you build them, then what? I’ve repeatedly told him that he has enough kits now that he can build whatever he wants. He’s finally getting it. The Pleasantest Thing has an awesome collection of printable Lego challenges that should reinforce the fact that he can build anything he puts his mind to. I think he will also enjoy seeing what I come up with as well.
4. Make Edible Art. Who doesn’t love a good snack? The Artful Parent has a perfect way to extend snack time and express yourself simultanously. Similar to the Lego challenges, you can come up with all sorts of things to build, using grapes and toothpicks. Maybe we will throw in a few marshmallows as well, as added treat.
5. Handwriting Practice! Okay, this doesn’t sound like a “fun” activity, but it’s long overdue. I feel like my son’s handwriting has actually gotten a little worse this year. (He takes after my husband, who has actually had mail returned!) Besides standard printing, Education.com has a few pain-free ways to practice handwriting skills. I’m thinking we will create postcards to send to friends and family. Also, since we live so close to the beach, a quick walk could stimulate great fodder for a collaborative story. And why not create a Vacation Memory Book to document all of the fun things we’re doing this week?
6. Charlotte’s Web. My son still loves to read with me and I have been meaning to put this book into the rotation for a while now. This will be the week. As an added bonus, I found a huge collection of activities, lessons and other interesting tidbits related to our reading.
Of course, there will be visits with friends and other activities as well. What are some of your favorite staycation activities? Sound off in the comments section below!