Summer is finally here, after a longer-than-usual wait. It’s finally time to head to the local badi, to kick a ball out in the spielplatz, to discover a new hiking trail, or to simply lie on a picnic blanket and gaze at the lake! the opportunities that the Swiss summer provides are pretty much endless.
While there is no dearth of options for outdoor fun during the summer, keeping kids entertained indoors can be tricky. If you have a preschooler, you know very well how restless and curious they tend to be. It is quite hard to keep them entertained for a long stretch of time without succumbing to the easy way out – using touch screens and television as babysitters.
My 3-year-old and I tried out a few simple summer-themed activities, which do not require fancy or expensive supplies or too much effort. These activities help in building early fine-motor skills, are educational while being fun at the same time, and help to instigate a child’s natural curiosity. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!
Aiding Fine Motor Skills with Perler beads
Kids who are ready for kindergarten or primary school could do with more crayons, pencils, scissors, or manipulatives that improve their fine motor skills. Handling fine objects such as beads, learning to use scissors, buttoning their own cloths, etc. vastly improve their pre-writing skills.
We used tiny crafting beads (commonly known as Perler beads) to create these adorable fruit-themed coasters. Perler beads can be arranged in patterns on a raised pegboard (the pegboard comes with a standard bead kit) and can be fused together, using a hot iron. This activity required parental supervision for younger kids, but is fun for all age groups, adults included!
You will need
- Perler beads and circular pegboard (we used a bead kit from Ikea)
- An iron
- A tray to contain the beads
- Your imagination
Lay out the circular pegboard, and beads on a tray, and sort the beads by the colour of the fruit you are trying to create. Arrange the beads on the pegboard, such that it resembles the cross-section of a fruit.
We made patterns resembling a watermelon, orange and lemon. Once done, place a square of parchment paper on top of the pattern and run a hot iron on top, a couple of times to fuse the beads together. Let the beads cool for a minute or so, and then prise the fused bead pattern away from the pegboard.
These coasters will be great for cold drinks on a hot summer day and make for cute and personalised party favours.
Counting with thumbprint art
There are plenty of fun, imaginative ways to practise counting with preschoolers. You could use any variety of manipulatives you have lying around the house, from buttons, to Legos to paper clips, etc. For number recognition, you could practise with simple homemade flash cards. This activity is more structured, and we made a couple of templates of our own, on which my son practised counting using thumbprint patterns. There are innumerable counting printables that are available online, but we decided to save some printer ink and just make them ourselves!
You will need
- A few sheets of paper
- A black marker
- Coloured stamp pad or finger paints
On a sheet of paper, using the black marker, write down numbers and alongside each number draw the pattern of a caterpillar’s head, or a flower without petals. Have your child fill in the caterpillar’s body and the flower petals, corresponding to the number written alongside.
Painting with Ice
This one is perhaps our favourite! This is an unstructured activity that encourages kids to be imaginative, and just have some fun with ice!
You will need
- Food colouring in various colours
- Ice cube tray
- Popsicle sticks
- Paper sheets
Mix together a few drops of one food colour with some water and pour the coloured water into the ice cube tray. Repeat with the other food colours, and let the coloured water set in the freezer for at least 4 hours. At the 1.5-hour mark, the ice should be partially set, and you can insert your popsicle sticks into the ice cubes at this point. Once fully set, unmould the ice cubes. Spread the sheets of paper on the floor (make sure you use a floor surface that is easy to clean up right after because food colour can stain) and let your child paint away with the coloured ice!
Disclaimer: Opinions and methods expressed are solely of the writer. Namaste Switzerland does not undertake any obligation or liability which may arise from the content.