Summer Inspiration for Kids

1 Jul


Seeing as summer vacation is quickly approaching for my three kids I’ve been thinking a lot about meaningful ways to pass our time together this summer.  We’ll be away on vacation for a total of four weeks this summer which leaves us four additional weeks here at home.  We usually spend our days either at the beach or out discovering new walking trails or doing a quick trip into the city.  But there are definitely lots of moments where we find ourselves at home and I really want those moments to be enjoyable, fun, memorable and even maybe a little educational.

As I’ve said in the past I’m a big believer in letting kids be bored.  As you can read here even the experts are advising it.  When my kids get bored they get creative.  They dig out all the art supplies or the big box of lego and they get busy for hours on end (although I do admit that the “mama I’m bored!! moments leading up to this can be quite frustrating!).

This summer we decided as a family that there will be no computer/ipod before 6pm.  Our days will be spent reading, playing, swimming, baking, painting, writing, building, selling lemonade and whatever else they come up with.  The kids were on-board from the get-go and have already started thinking of special projects to pass their long, hot summer days.

Here are some of the projects that I’ve been thinking of proposing to the kids this summer:


These 26 art lessons that were created and curated by the super talented Deborah Harju are definitely on our list of projects to try out this summer.  Deborah not only includes step-by-step instructions for her projects but she also includes interesting and educational background information to the various methods, styles and artists that go with them.  I really can’t wait to try the Geometric Design with Islamic Art project, the Intro to Neo-Plasticism project and the Leaf Painting project (which involves a hammer!).  There are projects for kids of every age and ability.

DSCN4431Another great place for creative ideas is the blog One Bunting Away.  Giova is an avid and passionate snail-mailer and she includes lots of really beautiful tutorials  on her blog to make your snail mail more beautiful (I did a guest post in her Flat Project last month).  Projects like these will really motivate my kids (and me!) to write lots of letters to friends and family around the world this summer.  Plus, it’s a great way for my Dutch schooled kids to practice writing in English.  Some favourite projects that we’ll definitely be trying are the Accordian Envelope, the decorated poems and the felt envelopes (because we love to sew!).


This is also the summer that my kids are going to learn to cook and bake.  I’ve noticed that they are really starting to become interested in helping out in the kitchen and they often ask questions about what tastes go together or what foods are the healthiest to eat.  One of my daughters actually started baking on her own this past winter.  She has officially perfected her great grandmother’s biscuit recipe and I’ll admit that the fact she made them for me 10 times in a matter of 2 weeks has definitely motivated me to teach her some new recipes.  I love all the recipes found on Sheri Silver‘s blog called Donuts, Dresses and Dirt.  They are usually quite simple, don’t have long lists of ingredients and are healthy.  We’ll definitely be making the Sugar-free Honey Lemon Cake, the Fruit Leather and the Honeydew-Lime Ice Pops (above).


And lastly I have a list of Ted Talks for Kids for those moments when it’s just too hot to move or do anything or when they’re exhausted after a long day of tennis camp.  These Ted Talks are absolutely amazing, inspiring and very educational.  My kids have already watched a few and they were enthralled from the beginning to the end.  There are many talks given by adults on subjects such as Life in the Deep Oceans, Mathemagic (my kids loved this one) and Sketching Electronics.  There are also fascinating talks by kids such as Tavi Geninson who created a space where girls could find each other and redefine feminism or Sirena Huang who is an 11 year old professional violinist.  I know my son will be excited to see the talk by 12 year old Thomas Suarez who is a world renown APP developer.  Check out Ted Talks for Kids here and Ted Talks by kids here.

mg_9778And again this summer I’m going to make the kids an activity garland like I did last year.  It was a huge success with all three of them and they still talk about it often and ask when this summer’s garland will be finished.   I sewed up different sized pockets on a garland where I inserted various surprise activities for the kids such as a photo challenge, a wooden skewer architecture challenge and a recipe challenge to name a few.  They spent hours working together for these projects and at the end of the summer we made a little book with some of the finished projects and photos of the finished projects.  Check out last year’s post which explains it all here.

So let summer begin!  I’m ready.


13 Responses to “Summer Inspiration for Kids”

  1. Sheri Silver July 1, 2013 at 19:49 #

    Wow! What a thrill to be included on YOUR blog with such lovely company! Going to check out the other blogs for what looks to be some awesome ideas! 🙂

    • Jillian In Italy July 1, 2013 at 22:38 #

      We can’t wait to make some of your great recipes! Seriously, I spent hours on your site this morning! Jx

  2. grammao July 1, 2013 at 20:12 #

    best blog entry yet – so much fun. Hope we get to do some in Canada.

  3. Judith July 2, 2013 at 00:03 #

    Awww I wish I had a bunch of kids to do/prepare all these activities! Instead I may watch some of the TED talks, they sound like fun 🙂 And try sending some nice snailmail too!

    • Jillian In Italy July 2, 2013 at 07:36 #

      We will definitely put you on our snail mail list. And do watch some of those Ted Talks…I enjoy just as much as the kids!

  4. Deborah July 2, 2013 at 01:28 #

    Thanks for including us in this awesome roundup!

  5. Lena July 2, 2013 at 07:00 #

    Oh, Jillian, thank you so much for this post! So many great ideas :)))

    • Jillian In Italy July 2, 2013 at 07:35 #

      Hi Lena! I’m sure your twins would love some of those 26 art projects over on Classic Play. Are you getting some good weather up North? I missed you at The Hive this year! jx

      • Lena July 4, 2013 at 08:57 #

        Hi Jillian!
        Nice to hear that you missed me 😉 Hope I can make it for Copenhaguen in October, but I don’t know, it’s gonna be a tough automn. We’re moving back to Spain in september, so it’s gonna be a lot of changes for the whole family. Are you going? Love, Lena.

  6. giova brusa July 2, 2013 at 09:11 #

    Wow! I’m here among all this great people and ideas. Thank you so much for including me. I’ll be checking those talks, and art projects, unfortunately my kids are zero interested in the kitchen, but I am very 😉

  7. Deepa July 2, 2013 at 16:16 #

    Such fabulous projects… and that activity garland is simply genius! Bookmarking for when Tala is older 🙂

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