Summertime Fun: 10 ways to beat the heat and connect with your kids, #1

These are some fun ideas that my family has enjoyed at home, and that I have done with families in class. They are simple, free (or cheap), age-adjustable, and I like them because they will help connect you through play while making important connections in your child’s brain, and making connections is what “Mommy Manders” is all about!

Ellie (14 mos) with Gymboree bubbles

1. Bubbles! In Kindermusik class, we use some great glycerin bubbles with a cool blower from Gymboree. They are safe for eyes  and mouths, do not make a huge soapy mess, and make lots of tiny little ones that can last up to days on your floor. You can buy them from behind the counter at the clothing stores. (I promise they didn’t pay me to say that, but if they want to, I’ll say it again!) I like to use these in the play room or living room, turn the ceiling fan on, and watch them go! (Sometimes I even do this when the kids are home.) Bubbles are not only fun, but help develop some great skills….Remember, when children are engaged and having fun, especially with YOU, their favorite teacher, they are much more likely to learn.

MJ, 15 mos, signing "bubbles" in front of bubble machine, saying "buh-buh". The repetition at home really pays off.

  • For lap babies,  bubbles are great for eye-tracking and attention span (some sleepy, zoning older kiddos will also quietly follow one bubble at a time on its journey). The sign for bubbles is holding both hands out, and imagining you are catching them, sing or say the song below, touch nose and toes, and sign “more”, too, for lots of connections.
  • For crawlers and toddlers, you can label, label, label where the bubbles land for language development. “Look! Mommy has one on her arm – can you pop it?” “Look at baby in the mirror – you have one on your hair! How silly!” Also, focus on the first sound, “b, b, bubbles”, letting them see your lips working, and they will begin to mimic you.
  • For toddlers on up, bubbles encourage hand-eye coordination when they try to catch or stretch to reach and pop a bubble. Add an extra challenge for your pre-schoolers, giving them multi-step instructions like, “Can you pop five bubbles with your left pinky?” or “Can you balance on one leg and catch a bubble on your other knee?” (Great for stimulating the executive functioning parts of the brain.)
  • For pre-schoolers and parents, bubbles are a great go-to when you need to CALM DOWN. The process requires that you slow down and take deep breaths – just don’t inhale the soap! (See more about deep breaths for parents in my recent post “Love is Patient, Love is Kind”.  In class, we also talk about catching them in our hands and turning them over gently without popping (for proper keyboard technique). Pre-schoolers  like to make their own bubble wand shapes, with straws and string, dipped in dish soap, though you might want to send them outside for the blowing part…
  • For Parents ONLY: Bubbles “after dark” (or by candlelight) – After the kids are in bed, you might as well continue the fun. Pop open some bubbly, draw up a double-bubble bath, keep the blowers out, and use your imagination! Hmmm – now there’s an idea I’ve never tried (probably because our tub is full of rubber ducks and other assorted plastic creatures.)
  • More Bubble Trouble: Download some “Bubble” music at http://bubbles.org/html/references/music.htm
    and Mr. Rogers  (my fave) has a great “Bubble Land” Opera episode – you can watch it at http://pbskids.org/rogers/videos/index.html

Bubbles, bubbles, landin’ on your nose,

Bubbles, bubbles, landin’ on your toes, 

Bubbles, bubbles, floatin’ to the floor,

Pop them, pop them, now we’ll blow some more.”

If you like this summertime fun idea, subscribe to my blog and you’ll get e-mailed the next 9 ideas for the next 9 hot summer days! Send your “hot” parent pals this link or post it on your Facebook page along with “warm summer wishes” so they can join the fun! Heck, have a bubble blowing bash, and let me know how it goes….