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Monday, April 30, 2001

Summer Ideas

This page contains the following articles:
Resources for Summer Activities
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4: spring 2001
David Whitaker, Toolbox Training

Here are two resource ideas that can help you fill your summer with fun and excitement.

For game ideas, turn to Toolbox Training's Games, Games, Games: Creating Hundreds of Group Games and Sports. This book offers variations on games and sports that will already be familiar to you. For example, turn soccer into a life-sized foosball game (called Island Soccer in the book) where players stay in one spot. During the game, allow for players to change places or consider adding a second ball.

There is also a section devoted to games made up by children. Included are tips on leading children in making up games. What happens when children decide to create a Human Bowling game where the kids are the pins? What if you play tag in space (this is a game called “Satellite”) where the astronaut (the “tagger”) can only leave the spaceship for a few moments before having to return for air?

The Quiet/Circle Games section offers calmer game activities that work great for transitions.

Speaking of transitions, another book (to which some of you contributed!) that has just been finished is on transition activities. After-School Transitions: The Ready, Set, Go! Guide to Strategies That Work provides countless ideas for activities to use to fill those few extra moments while waiting for a field trip bus or trying to shuffle a group of kids through the bathroom.

For example, if you have a few minutes to spare, play “What Is It?” Pick an unusual object that children might not recognize and have them speculate how the object might be used. Encourage creative, silly answers.

You can also take familiar songs that children already know and sing them faster/slower, louder/softer, higher/lower. Consider making up new words or adding gestures.

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Fun with Summer Themes
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4: spring 2001
Ideas contributed by Kathy McCall, Heart of America Family Services

There are lots of fun things you can do with themes during the summer. Of course, there are traditional activities such as carnivals, water days, and multicultural days that programs frequently do.

A multicultural day lets kids explore other countries. Keep the focus on the commonalties between cultures rather than the differences. Pick one subject area which everyone will research (games, celebrations, food, dance, song, etc.). Children divide into groups and each group picks a separate country. The groups then do research on that country and the chosen subject area. Groups then do a presentation on their country (the flag, where country is, etc.) and the subject area.

Have a pajama party. Children come dressed in their pajamas and bring sleeping bags. This can be a special day where kids can watch cartoons and make breakfast.

For a community service day, you could go on a field trip to a fire station or have a fire truck or ambulance visit your program.

For projects, kids can do a car wash or a children’s book drive. You can donate books to Heartland Book Bank (call 816-472-5600 for information).

Put on a day based on Adventures in Peacemaking (by William Kriedler and Lisa Furlong). The book focuses on fun, cooperative learning activities that help staff teach children effective, non-violent ways of solving conflicts. Choose a theme, such as sharing, and focus the days’ activities around it.

Water days are common. Of course you can do fun activities with water balloons and you have to do water relays. To avoid promotion of weapons, use squirt bottles instead of water guns. Also consider the fun you can have with a “mashed potato fight.”

Have a science day. Set up stations with hands-on science activities based around a theme (e.g., air, molecules in motion, chemical reactions). Check out your local library or the internet to find science ideas that are fun and easy for kids to do without adult supervision.

Do a game day. Staff and children can teach other new games and could make up games as well.

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Making Summer Different Than the School Year
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4: spring 2001
Details provided by Tracie Holder, SAC Coordinator, Belton School District

In Belton, the summer SAC program is a before and after school program revolving around summer school. For each of the three sessions of summer school, Belton’s SAC program will focus on a theme. Each week within that session then focuses on a more specific element of that theme.

For example, during an animals month, one week might be dedicated to wildlife. A possible activity for that week would be to invite someone from 4-H who would bring in different animal skins or even animals themselves and do a presentation for the kids.

During the school year, children participate in clubs that allow them to extend activities over a week’s time. To give children a different experience in the summer, activities are designed to be more one-time events. The summer program also has more of a camp atmosphere instead of the more education-oriented approach of the school year.

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Ongoing Art Activities
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4: spring 2001
Ideas from Jo Boyer, SAC Technical Assistant, Southeast Missouri State University

Summer is a great time to do some ongoing art activities! Begin by talking about, looking at, and touching different kinds of art. Set up art stations for paints, chalks, markers, crayons, and clay. There are hundreds of possibilities.

Allow children to choose each day what they would like to do. Allow time for children to talk about their art. Then ask each child to choose one of their projects to be exhibited. Exhibition could be at the city library, a grocery store, or, Wal-Mart. Creative writing could be included or could be a separate activity.

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Smoothing Out the Dreaded Bus Transition
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4: spring 2001
Idea contributed by Kristi Fate, School Age Care Assistant Coordinator - Lee’s Summit Kids’ Country

When returning from a field trip, here is one way to ease the transition from the bus back into the school and the next activities. The Site Coordinator and/or assistant remains on the bus and allows all staff members to exit.

Staff go inside, grab walkie talkies, and gather area signs indicating spaces that are open for the afternoon (i.e., gym, outside, computer lab, homeroom, etc.). It is best to have a system set up for staff to rotate to different areas on a daily or weekly basis. The site coordinator and/or assistant then dismisses the children. They line up at with the staff member holding the sign of the area to which they want to go. When a room is full (15 children per staff member), the staff member leads his/her group away. This makes for a smooth, quick transition and there is not a lot of time spent standing around waiting to get the kids where they need to go.

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111 Summer Activity Ideas
from a brainstorming session conducted by Toolbox Training’s David Whitaker

Getting ready for summer? Toolbox Training wants to help! Thanks to suggestions from numerous Kansas City metropolitan child care providers, here are some ideas for summer activities. The letters beside suggestions refer to the person who suggested the idea (names listed at bottom, along with a phone number for contacting that person if necessary). Enjoy!

Thanks to the following people for their contributions:

RC: Renee Crume
ED: Erin Dennis
CE: Claire Ehney
JK: Janet Keeney
DL: Deb Loper
KL: Kari Lyon
JP: Jean Phillips
KP: Kristina Prather
JS: Jared or Jennifer Shreve
ARS: April R. Staldie
AT: Adriana Talamantes
MT: Martha Thomas
LW: Linda Weerts
DW: Dave Whitaker, Toolbox Training
NY: Noni Yount

Arts and Crafts

  • Life-Sized Spider Web – weave yarn in and out of objects within a designated space and let kids try to crawl their way through. – DW
  • Light-Bulb People – RC
  • Trash Bag Parachutes – JS
  • Salt Art – JP
  • Theme Murals
  • Making Candles – LW
  • Junk Art – use recyclable materials to create with – DW
  • Bleach Water Pictures – JS
  • Tie-Dye with Squirt Bottles – NY
  • Coffee Grounds Play-Do – MT
Character Development/Social Skills
  • Storytelling – tell a story with a strong message, but leave out the ending. Let the children discuss what they would do. – DW
  • Core Values – children can “tattle on” each other when they see someone else doing something good. – DL
  • Responsibility Charts – assign tasks for children to do daily for the week. – RC
  • Good Deed Chest – NY
  • Role Play – how would you feel? – DL
Cooking and Food
  • Edible Play-Do – DL
  • English Muffin Pizzas – AT
  • Kick the Can Ice Cream – JK
  • Make Your Own Peanut Butter – LW
  • Make Your Own Butter – LW
  • Make Your Own Cola – DW
  • Apple Juice Ice Cubes – AT
  • Generic Vs. Brand Names Taste Test – DW
  • Skyscrapers – build with gumpdrops, dots, toothpicks, etc.
  • Honey Popcorn – JK
  • Deviled Eggs in Baggies – JS
  • Trail Mix – JK
  • Edible Art Creations
  • Pudding in Baggies
  • Check out the book Cup Cooking for lots of ideas. – CE
Discovery (Science and Nature)
  • Nature Walks – gather materials to make a collage. – DW
  • Archaeological Dig – NY
  • Bugs in Magnifiers
  • Volcanic Explosions – mix baking soda and vinegar – DL
  • Outdoor Survival – RC
  • Goop – starch and water
  • Goo – liquid starch and glue
  • Plants – learn about different kinds; ask parents to share; visit gardens and parks – LW
Field Trips in Kansas City Area
  • Skating – ARS
  • Bump City – RC
  • Wacky Banana
  • Children’s Museum
  • Bowling
  • Zoo
  • Creative Candles – MT
  • Worlds of Fun – MT
  • Oceans of Fun – MT
  • Nelson Art Gallery
  • KC Museum
  • Planetarium
  • Wonderscope
  • Bayer Agricultural Research Farm
  • Science City
  • Royals Game – child care day – LW
  • Marble Demonstration – Moon Marble Company – LW
  • Theatre for Young America – ED
  • Louisburg Tiger Farm – JK
  • Apple Cider Mill
  • Bean Stalk – KC
  • KALF Days at Ag. Hall of Fame
  • Climbing Gaylans Wall – for older kids – LW
  • IBEX in Blue Springs – LW
  • Canoeing or Paddle Boats – LW
  • Deanna Rose Farmstead
  • Toy and Miniature Museum
  • Truman Library
  • Peace Pavilion
Games and Sports
  • Spuds – ARS
  • Mum Ball – JS
  • Make Up Games – DW
  • Human Bowling – DW
  • Rotation Baseball – DW
  • Island Soccer – DW
  • Games, Games, Games: Creating Hundreds of Group Games and Sports – DW
Music and Movement
  • Talent Show – JS
  • Camp Songs
  • Change Songs – sing familiar songs faster, slower, higher, lower, etc. Add gestures or movements. – DW
  • Imaginary Orchestra – each child has an assigned instrument and makes or demonstrates it. – RC
  • Rhythm Sticks – JK
  • Daily Aerobics – LW
  • No-Volume Singing – sing with no volume until the leader gives the signal for everyone to turn it up! – DW
  • Freeze Dance – ARS
  • Spanish Movement Song (Un Pato) – AT
  • Movement Tapes and Videos
Outdoor Activities
  • Kite Flying Contest – KP
  • Fence Painting – KL
  • Field Day
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Archery
  • Rocket Launch – JK
  • Scavenger Hunts – JK
  • Listening Walks – JK
  • Relay Races – DL; example: sit down on balloons to pop them – AT
  • Hula Hoop Contest – NY
  • Water Balloons – JP
  • Outdoor Cooking – make bacon in aper sack; cook egss in ziploc bags; biscuit donuts – LW
  • Water Bottle Squirt Fight – JS
  • Sprinkler – JS
  • Learn to Tie Knots – LW
  • Water Fight with Recycled Ketchup Bottles – NY
  • Book Club – DL
  • Acting Out Stories – while someone reads a story, children can act it out. – DW
  • Reading Mentors
  • Celebrity Readers
  • One-Line-at-a-Time Stories – DW
  • Journaling – based on the book Questions of a Child – JS
  • Class Mascot – children can write down adventures with the class mascot in their own individual journals. Ours is “Crusty the Pelican.” – NY
  • Daily Quiet-Time Reading – teacher reads a chapter book to children each day during quiet time. – LW
  • Hand Print Bulletin Board – on each hand, write a book that the children have read. – NY
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Want more activity ideas? Check out Toolbox Training’s activity books on games, art, drama, music, and science. You can also check out the books Games, Games, Games: Creating Hundreds of Group Games and Sports and After-School Transitions: The Ready, Set, Go! Guide to Strategies That Work.

Parent Communication

A Calendar That Parents Can’t Miss (Hopefully)
Originally published in The KC SAC Connection, issue 4 – spring 2001

Idea from Suzanne Dewey, Prime Time Site Coordinator at James Lewis Elementary, Blue Springs School District

At James Lewis Elementary’s Prime Time, it would be impossible to not know what is going on (or at least a lot harder), thanks to a huge wall calendar that details each day’s events. Suzanne got the idea from Amy King, another Prime Time Site Coordinator in the Blue Springs School District.

The calendar consists of sheet protectors hot-glued to a tablecloth. A page for each day of the month is then inserted into the sheet protector. Calendar pages detail the activities for the day - a great way to let everyone know about upcoming summer field trips!

In addition, each page is illustrated by the children. Suzanne also recommends checking out the Blue Mountain Art web site ( to get a calendar of offbeat events. For example, at James Lewis Elementary, they had National Pickle Week on their calendar.

Want to learn more about parent communication? Check out Toolbox Training’s workshop Connect with Families: The K.I.D.S. Method.