“In planning for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” I know Dwight Eisenhower was talking about World War II, but I’m pretty sure had he been a stay-at-home mom, he would’ve been talking about summer break.
There are approximately 10 weeks of summer vacation — not that I’m counting — so I decided to do a little planning of my own. Based on a few Omaha summer events (out of hundreds offered), I created 10 weekly themes. Each theme includes outings, activities and crafts, suggested books and movies, and fun foods. I tried to balance being on-the-go with enjoying simple time at home, and being goofy and fun with offering something educational. (And trust me, we’ll be doing plenty of nothing around here, too. These kids today need to learn a thing or two about how to handle their “boredom.”)
I divided the 10 themes into two posts of five weeks each. This is the first five weeks:
- Fun at the Beach
- The Wizard of Oz
- Games, Games, Games
I’ll post the second one in the next couple of days because really, aside from some of the scheduled events, you can do this stuff (if) whenever you want. (UPDATE: Here’s the second in the series, featuring the last five weeks of summer.) Obviously, the possibilities, events, activities, etc. go way, way … way, way, way beyond anything I have here, but I thought I’d share a little just in case it helps or inspires you during these long summer days and nights.
Week 1 | June 1 | BUGS!
OUTING | Bugs!
Go to the Omaha Children’s Museum to see A Bug’s World, a special exhibit running May 25 through Sept. 8, featuring giant robotic bugs and a larger-than-life interactive exhibit.
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS | Bugs!
Get an ant farm — my youngest just got this one from his aunt for his birthday. I just sent away for the ants, so we’ll see how this works out.
Stay up late and catch lightning bugs. The website Firefly.org has a lot of fascinating information you can share with your kids. If you want something shorter and to the point, check out the National Geographic page on fireflies.
Plan a family movie night featuring A Bug’s Life.
Go to the pet store and get some live crickets. Observe them under a magnifying glass, identify their different body parts and describe their behaviors before setting them free outside.
Craft your own insect and name its parts via this Scholastic lesson plan.
And here’s more good stuff from Scholastic including fun facts and online activities.
BOOKS | Bugs!
Choose from the best 25 children’s books about bugs from Amazon.
Share some Eric Carle books about bugs — then learn how he creates his pictures by coloring tissue paper and creating collages. Afterward, create your own Eric Carle-inspired pictures.
FUN WITH FOOD | Bugs!
Create veggie bugs from the farmers market.
Use strawberries to create ladybugs on a stick.
These healthy little treats make for fun summertime snacking. Find the how-to on Spoonful. (Original idea courtesy of Barbara from www.batterupkids.com in Austin.)
Week 2 | June 8 | FUN AT THE BEACH
OUTING | Fun at the Beach
Take a trip downtown to the annual Sand in the City, a sand sculpture competition that includes 375 tons of sand, 20 teams creating 15-ton sand sculptures, a Kid Zone, live entertainment, and two giant sandboxes. The kids and I went last year and had a great time playing in the sandboxes and in the Kid Zone. We grabbed lunch there and then headed over to Ted & Wally’s for ice cream. It was as fun as if we had spent the day at the beach.
My youngest playing in the huge sandbox at last year’s Sand in the City.
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS | Fun at the Beach
Use sand to create sand art.
Put some of the sand on black paper and have the kids look at it under a magnifying glass. Make observations of its shape and color. Add vinegar to it and watch what happens.
I made cloud dough, also known as moon sand, with the boys last summer.
Here is more information about exploring sand as well as how the kids can make their own (kind of).
How many of you have seen magic sand advertised on TV? Forget that, make magic sand at home and learn a little something in the process.
BOOKS | Fun at the Beach
Here is a list of recommended kids books about the beach.
FUN WITH FOOD | Fun at the Beach
Add your favorite gummies or a festive drink umbrella to these sand cups.
Here’s a similar idea done as a cake in an adorable plastic beach bucket.
Too many sweets? Try this sand pasta.
Week 3 | June 15 | BASEBALL
OUTINGS | Baseball
Yeah, I know I’m early for the College World Series, but during the week of June 15, the Omaha Storm Chasers have four home games. Check their schedule and special promotions for the week.
Ever been to Boys Town? Me neither, but they have a baseball exhibit, Batter Up … Baseball at Boys Town, that might be the thing that gets us there.
The Conestoga Magnet School in North Omaha has three exhibits from the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City on display until June 26.
Rookie of the Year is one of numerous baseball movies that would make for a great summertime movie night with the kids.
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS | Baseball
Here’s a list of baseball movies for kids to plan your own movie night.
Hit an Omaha batting cage with the kids.
Depending on the age of the kids, this baseball string bracelet might or might not be an age-appropriate activity — knives ‘n’ such, ya know. Gotta tell you, I think it’s so cool though, I want to make one.
Same deal with these baseball flowers.
For little ones, capture their handprints on a baseball (scroll down that page to see the image). If you don’t do it just-because, maybe consider it as a Father’s Day gift.
And here’s a list of baseball activities designed to help build mad baseball skilz.
BOOKS | Baseball
A list of best-selling kids books about baseball on Amazon.
FUN WITH FOOD | Baseball
Create a meal of baseball stadium favorites: hot dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos and Cracker Jack.
Here’s a recipe to make your own homemade Cracker Jack.
Make a large cheese pizza, cutting and spreading the pepperoni to look like the stitches of a baseball.
Alton Brown can do no wrong, so I imagine these homemade soft pretzels are fantastic. And what kid wouldn’t have a great time twisting the dough and making fun shapes? Not this kid, I tell ya what.
Week 4 | June 22 | THE WIZARD OF OZ
OUTING | The Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz is coming to the Omaha Community Playhouse. Get tickets.
The interactive iPad version of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is available on iTunes for $.99.
BOOKS | The Wizard of Oz
Read the original book. I never read it until recently when I read it to the boys. I was surprised at all of the differences between the book and the movie, such as the Wicked Witch of the East’s shoes were silver and the Wizard was originally from Omaha. Whaaaat?!?! Yep.
My husband then found this version of the book as an iPad interactive book for $.99. The boys enjoyed listening to the book a second time when Grandma read it to them during a visit in May.
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS | The Wizard of Oz
Make a tornado in a bottle. It’s science and it’s fun.
Make these poppies out of egg cartons (yeah, I know, the headline says “tulips,” but sorry, those look like poppies to me) …
… or use coffee filters.
Talk with your kids about what they think it means to be smart, brave and loving. Have them give examples of when they’ve demonstrated those behaviors. Have them draw pictures of what it means to them.
In the spirit of the glowing Emerald City, make these glow stick lanterns with green glow sticks. I’ve also seen where they gently add water or glitter to the jars for different glow effects.
FUN WITH FOOD | The Wizard of Oz
Let’s not make this any harder than it needs to be: rainbow food. Here’s a collection of 25 rainbow food ideas from across the web.
A beautiful collection of 25 rainbow food recipes from around the Internet, gathered by Craftionary.
Week 5 | June 29 | GAMES, GAMES, GAMES
OUTING | Games, Games, Games
A publicity photo from the Zelda portion of the Video Games live tour, coming to Omaha June 29.
I’m not really sure what to expect, but we’re taking the boys to VideoGames Live, an interactive concert of popular video game musical scores. There are also activities and an interactive gaming zone beforehand. Here’s more information on the Ralston Arena website.
Go to SkateDaze, The Amazing Pizza Machine, Family Fun Center XL, Sempeck’s Bowling & Entertainment or other local arcade.
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS | Games, Games, Games
Sit down and have your kids teach you one of their video games.
Have a family game day/night. Invite another family for even more friendly competition.
Create this Wreck-It-Ralph placemat.
Or, search “pixelate a photo” to find online sites that allow you to upload a photo. The sites transform it into a pixelated picture you can use to create other placemats or crafts.
Using sidewalk chalk, create an Angry Birds water balloon game on your driveway. (Several people in the comments suggested using a water balloon slingshot for even more fun.)
FUN WITH FOOD | Games, Games, Games
This is a collection of crazy-creative recipes … “Mouthwatering Video Game Foods in Real Life from BuzzFeed.”
OK, that’s the first five weeks. I’m excited about the next five themes, too. I’ll publish those in several days. (UPDATE: Here they are. Go to More weekly themes to celebrate summer break in Omaha.)