Well, that crazy year 2020 is now officially behind us and we’re all looking forward to discovering what 2021 will bring - ideally worldwide health and hopefully a bit more normality! Within our childcare community, it’s impossible to overlook the fact that we’re immersed in summertime. Let’s explore the best ways to make the most of this with young children.
No matter where you’re located, summer is a magical time of year where possibilities are endless. Young children can really accentuate this, by the joy they demonstrate in all they do, so let’s look further into activities that will make the most of this!
The Summertime Check-list... Activities for Families.
Balmy evenings, BBQ’s with friends, endless swimming, cicadas making an incredible racket… oh the magic of summer is upon us! We’ve searched high and low to find the best summer activities for children and families to enjoy. Whether it’s discovering a local walking trail, summery-themed art-and-craft, or tree climbing, there’s no shortage of activities and entertainment that can fill those long days, making summer extra special for young children - and the big kids that accompany them! Read on to discover the activities that will suit your family best.
Ice cream - Who doesn’t love ice cream on a hot summer day?! So either seek out your local ice creamery and spoil yourselves, or have a go at making it at home! Homemade icecream means you get to spend time with your child in the kitchen - all that stirring and whirring action is great for fine motor strengthening - and you control the ingredients used, so substitute healthier ingredients if you wish!Here’s a recipe to get you started!
Picnics - Nothing beats a picnic at a local beach, park or lake. Choose somewhere offering shade and pack your basket, rug and frisbee, along with a roast chicken and bread rolls (or your preferred version of this!) for an enjoyable day of relaxing!
Pet rocks - Collect rocks from around the garden, or at a local beach or park to decorate as a pet. Paint a face, glue on some googly eyes or some woollen hair… pet rocks can be as simple, or complicated, as you choose. You could add some friends to your pet and make a rock garden over the duration of the summer.
Group dates - Organise to meet up with your child’s daycare mates at a local playground. Hanging with friends can make even a regular park visit so much more enjoyable! Your child has a friend to entertain them and you have an extra pair of eyes (plus some coveted adult conversation!) Many child care centres provide a list of classmates’ contact details for this exact purpose! Worth asking.
Footpath chalk art - This craze was made particularly popular during COVID isolation in the “Rainbow Trail movement”, but really it’s the easiest way to get outdoors and get creative! A selection of coloured chalk is all you need to make some really fun art with your child.
Protect the wildlife - The heat of an Aussie summer can be unbearable for local wildlife and insects. Teach your child to be an environmental ambassador with the simple act of placing containers of water outside - in the garden, on the deck or a windowsill - accessible to all manner of wildlife. Birds, bees, possums and lizards need water too, and this act of kindness could make all the difference on a scorching day. *Tip, for insects like bees, avoid drowning possibilities by placing a brick or rock that isn’t entirely submerged. This way, they can sip in safety.
Backyard camping - If you missed out on this during your own childhood, now’s the time to make up for it! Whether you’re regular campers or not, the magic of setting up a tent in the back garden and sleeping outside is what childhood magic is made of! Cook up some snags, dig out your sleeping bags and tell some stories to make it extra special! No garden? Don’t let that deter you…. Camping IS possible indoors! Children will be excited either way… that’s what imaginations are for!
Bike rides - Take your children bike riding! Whether they’re on a tricycle, scooter and have training wheels on a big bike makes little difference! It’s all about the rush of excitement and the wind in your hair! To make a day of it, search for recommended local bike tracks that might suit your child’s level. Bring lots of water with you and be sure to wear a hat and sun-protective clothing!
Star-gazing - A few blankets, pillows and some snacks laid out in the back garden and you’re ready for an astronomy adventure! From the Milky Way, to the Saucepan, and the Southern Cross, learn a few constellations and offer your children a basic lesson! Were you aware that some of the brighter planets can be spotted too? Depending on their orbit. Here’s a beginner’s guide to finding stars and planets. Also worth checking out is the International Space Station, because you never know when it will be flying right over us! According to NASA, it’s the third brightest object in the sky! Very cool!
Tennis - Tennis is a great year-round sport in Australia and as your child gets older you may choose to enrol them in lessons or holiday camps. However, for younger children, a great way to start out is with Orbit tennis. It’s easy to take along on a picnic or camping trip, is fantastic for hand-eye coordination, and is a bit of an Aussie summer tradition! Plus it can be played individually or with a friend. So many positives!
Car wash - It’s one of those chores that’s just so much more enjoyable in summer! Invite your helper, provide a bucket of suds, some big sponges and a hose, and get to work. Wear your swimsuit and get ready to be soaked!
Explore - Search for nearby lakes, beaches or walking trails you may not have visited before. Take some snacks and plenty of water and make it a day trip. A fun, cheap way to explore with your family, creating summer memories along the way!
Paint the fence - The simplest activities can also offer the most fun. This one is great for small children who love art, but always make one crazy mess! Sometimes you need a day that doesn’t involve a huge clean-up but still offers enjoyment. Give your child a bucket filled with water and a brush and encourage them to paint the fence or outside wall! It’s a simple version of water play, so great for warm days when it’s fun to get a bit (or a lot) wet! Best part is they can continue “painting” for hours, the action is great for strengthening little wrists, and there’s virtually no clean-up required! Add some bubble-bath or food colouring to the water to mix it up a bit.
Water balloons - Water balloons are an essential summertime game! Pop on your swimmers and sunscreen and find a grassy patch somewhere outdoors - at home or even the local park. Depending on how old your child is, you can start gently by throwing the balloons at a wall to show how they burst and make a big splash. If your child is a little older and can cope with a water balloon war amongst friends, healthy competition is always good to encourage! *Tip! Lay some age-appropriate ground rules first, like, no throwing at faces!
Milk carton boats - Raid the recycle bin for items to upcycle and create simple boats to float in a pond, paddling pool or bath. Waxed card, like a milk carton, works well but let your child experiment and see which materials float and which do not. Decorate them and race the best boats!
Feed the ducks - Find a local pond, wetlands or lake that has ducks to visit, and bring some scraps of bread to share. Be mindful that occasionally ducks or geese can get a bit pushy, especially if food is being offered, so ideally feed them off a bridge of place of safety to protect smaller children.
Visit a water park - This one is dependent on where you live - unless you plan a holiday around it…! The Gold Coast is the land of theme parks, but there are other water parks situated around the country offering slides, beaches and wave pool madness. Also worth checking out your local swimming pool (or even holiday parks) as water play areas have been popping up like crazy over the last decade, offering fantastic options for all ages.
Balloon shenanigans - Fancy a game of backyard balloon shenanigans? All you need are some blown-up balloons and a pool noodle each. The rules are simple… keep the balloon from hitting the ground by using the noodle as a bat. The person who keeps it in the air the longest is the winner. Oh… and don’t smack your friend in the head!
Squirty art - Start with a role of cheap-as-chips butcher paper, and tape it across a fence or an outdoor wall so it resembles a blank mural. You’ll need some spray bottles that operate by squeezing the trigger to release the spray. Add paint with lots of water to the bottle, then shake really well. Have your child create an artwork on the paper by squirting the coloured spray. The trigger-grip may take some practice but is excellent for fine motor strengthening.
Create a fairy home - Upcycle a large empty jar. Using paint on the outside, paint a layer opaque so you cannot see inside and allow it to dry. Next, add a door, window, fence or similar items to signify a little house. Decorate with twine, glitter and any other crafting items you can find. Once completely dry, fill with soil and plant flowers or herbs inside to grow out of the “roof”. *Tip, consider adding a final layer of clear gloss to your fairy’s home, to protect and seal it. Available at most hardware stores.
Shaving cream alphabet - Practice your ABC’s, or the spelling of your child’s name, using a can of shaving cream. Find a concrete path or driveway outside, ideally an area that can be hosed afterwards (or have a bucket of water thrown across it)... because let’s not kid ourselves, this is messy, but it’s oh so fun! Another option is to fill a bucket with shaving cream and mix food colouring through to offer a colourful alternative. You’ll need a stick or paintbrush to practice writing with.
Veggie patch - Use the summer to teach your child how to plant and grow a garden! Flowers, herbs, or vegetables in a garden bed or in pots by your home. Your child can be responsible for watering them each day. It’s incredibly rewarding to see them bloom or include the veggies and herbs in a meal!
Icy adventures - Freeze a selection of items - marine figurines, farm animals, coloured pom-poms - inside chunks of ice, and add them to a paddling pool or large shallow activity tub if your child would prefer. As the ice melts the items are freed. Ice play is enjoyable on a hot day, but this offers both an icy sensory activity and also the option for further play once the items are free to play with. *Tip, make the chunks larger or you’ll find they’ve melted in minutes. Using plastic cups (similar to the colourful children’s cups IKEA sell) allows for a solid amount of time to enjoy the ice before it melts!
Fruit picking - Whether it’s figs, apples, berries or cherries, our abundant country offers a taste of everything, depending on where you’re located. There are usually places in your state that will let you pick fruit for free or for a small entrance fee, so hop on the web and search for the picking season in your area.
Create a butterfly garden - Attract all kinds of butterflies to your garden with the right ingredients. Did you know that the scent of lavender attracts butterflies? And butterflies go mad for oranges! So placing a birdbath or container of water in a shady area of your garden or deck, then adding some lavender plants nearby and orange slices to nibble on is a great way to encourage these beautiful winged creatures to visit.
Run in the sprinkler - This is a rite of passage in childhood! Set-up the sprinkler in a grassy spot, pop on your swimmers and enjoy!
Visit the farmer’s market - Heading to your local farmer’s market can be a fun day out as well as a way of showing them all of the different foods! Support the farmers and teach your child the concept of paddock-to-plate.
Bubbles - Bubbles are a no-brainer. In fact, if you have smaller children and were to repeat this activity daily for the entire summer… they’d probably never tire of it. Bubble liquid, bubble wand, bubble machine… every option involving bubble play is a winner and can entertain children happily for hours!
Fly a kite - As well as being immensely fun, flying a kite teaches patience and coordination. Wait for a breezy day, get outdoors and feel the wind in your hair!
Early morning swims - Beat the heat by rising early and heading to the beach, pool, lake or any watering hole you can find to enjoy an early morning - or late evening - swim! No risk of getting sunburnt, and you’ll avoid any chaos that swimming in a public place during the summer months may bring. A moment of serenity to enjoy with your child.
Backyard cinema - This one is a bit indulgent… but how amazing would a backyard cinema be? Amongst the stars and fresh air, fairy lights shimmering, snuggled up with your child and some friends! Garden cinemas are becoming increasingly popular. If you want to step-up the summer activities to indulgent level, here’s how we recommend you get started on your research!
Video footage - Remember to record your memories! While photos can be beautiful, video really captures an exact moment in your child’s life. One day you’ll look back and be reminded of words they used and how they acted. Whether it’s shot on a GoPro or just your phone doesn’t matter - they’re special, magical, moments for the memory vault!
Here’s hoping you’re now armed with a selection of great activities to suit your family and child. Pick your favourites, get creative, have fun, and make it your best summer yet!
0-12 month development
How often should a newborn poop?
Author: Nicole Harris
Although changing dirty diapers is a part of every parent’s daily routine, some are not sure how often babies should ‘do a number two’?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t one-size-fits-all as a baby's poop frequency depends on their digestive system, diet (bottle feeding vs breastfeeding) as well as their other factors. While some babies poop after every meal, others will only do so every few days.
Although constipation is rare amongst newborn, parents should keep track of their babies’ bowel movements, watching for the following symptoms: hard stool consistency, refusal to eat, making strained faces, a hard belly, and slight bleeding from stretched anal walls.
Naps are crucial for your little one’s growth and development. Dr Daniel Lewin, the director of pediatric behavioural sleep medicine at Washington DC’s Children's National Medical Center explains how physical and mental development takes place when kids sleep, both at night and during the day.
On the other hand, parents also stand to benefit from their children napping. It is believed that babies who nap regularly sleep better at night. Ultimately, this allows parents to rest and results in a baby who is less fussy and irritable.
Sensitive souls are common, especially amongst children who are just learning to deal with empathetic emotions. These sensitive children tend to become easily upset or worry about the simplest of things.
For parents, it is difficult seeing your little one cling to your leg in fear, crying amongst other children’s utter excitement, or shying away from new challenges and experiences.
Rather than dismissing the behaviour as silly or overcompensating with extreme concern, it is suggested that parents should simply focus on making a child feel secure, loved and connected to mom and dad. This gives children the foundation to emerge from their shell when they feel ready to do so.
Read on to understand the complexities of raising a sensitive child.
3-4 year development
When will your child become too big for a toddler bed?
Author: Madison Pados
Toddler beds are special to kids and parents alike. While toddlers become comfortable in their beds, some parents resist the move to a bigger bed for a completely different reason. They simply want their little angel to stay small forever and therefore resist this big step.
When deciding if it is time to move your child to a larger bed, the first thing you need to consider is your child’s size and weight. If your child no longer fits on the small toddler mattress or weighs over 20 kilograms, you should start looking for a larger bed.
And if your little one resists this change, you can help ease them into the process by making it an exciting experience. Let them pick out themed bed sheets or throw a party to celebrate their move to a big bed.
The summer holidays are enjoyed by children around the country. No school and fantastic weather, now that is a recipe for fun!
For parents, school holidays bring on greater responsibility. On top of their regular responsibilities, the holidays mean that parents are tasked with entertaining their children all day.
One way to lighten your load and keep your little ones busy is to assign them daily tasks, specifically around mealtime. From setting the table to picking fresh herbs from the garden, mealtime presents children with many opportunities to contribute.
How Siblings’ Gender Can Affect a Child’s Development
Publication: The New York Times
The New York Times discusses research that suggests that the gender of a child’s siblings, specifically if the child’s siblings are of the same sex or not, can affect their development. It is said that the gender of a child’s siblings can affect how much time children spend with their parents, their future romantic relationships and even their attitude to risk-taking.
The article focuses on sibling sex ratios - having a sibling of the other sex versus growing up in all-boy or all-girl sibling households. And although you cannot control the gender ratio of your children, it can still be valuable to consider the effect this ratio can have on their development.
First off, when it comes to heterosexual romantic relationships, studies suggest that teenagers who have at least one other-sex sibling “grow faster in their romantic competence”.
On the other hand, teenagers with older brothers, especially young boys, are more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviour. It is understood that older brothers often expose their younger siblings to risky behaviour.
On the other hand, the study also discusses how having an older sister can help protect children from risks.
Continue reading to learn more about the study, which analyses how the gender of a child’s siblings can affect his/her development.
Make a geometric shape pop-up book
Make a simple shape pop-up book to help kids learn basic geometric shapes. Through this interesting activity, kids will learn the names of basic geometric shapes, as well as the number of sides each shape has.And in the end, your children will walk away with an interactive pop-up book that they will love.
Make and decorate paper-mache bowls to add a cute, DIY touch to your home. If constructed correctly, these bowls are relatively sturdy, making them ideal fruit or sweet bowls. Once your bowl has set, it is time to decorate it with bright colours to make it pop.
Welcome songbirds to your yard with this rustic-chic, homemade bird feeder. Transform a cardboard shipping box or pint-sized milk carton into the bird feeder’s structure before adding scrap wood and unused craft supplies to decorate it.
This simple craft is the easiest of the bunch. Start by colouring your downloadable printout before folding your paper, drawing the cutting lines, cutting accordingly and unfolding. In the end, you will be left with a stunningly beautiful paper net that the kids will love.