May is here, which means summer vacation is just around the corner. Those of you who have children are probably asking yourselves, “How on earth am I going to keep these bored kids from driving me crazy all summer can I make this a productive and educational summer for the little darlings?” By now most of the best (i.e. least unaccredited) out-of-state camps and military boarding schools are all booked up and you may be wondering what you’re going to do. Well, cry yourself to sleep about it no more, because your friends here at Duke Digital Collections — many of whom have advanced degrees in child psychology or other fields (OK, mostly other fields) — have been thinking about this so you don’t have to. We love kids, and in fact some of us used to be kids ourselves, but we also know that sometimes, especially at the end of a long day, they’re at they’re most lovable when they’re in another room being quiet. Here we present some valuable tips and ideas on fun summer activities for kids found in our Protestant Family digital collection. You can click on the thumbnails for a larger view of the image — trust us, some of them really need to be seen in their original glory to be fully appreciated.
Guerrilla training. A good way for children to meet others in the neighborhood and to get some exercise in the fresh air is to organize themselves into roaming gangs of armed bandits, like these kids. These boys may not be learning meekness, but they do seem to be learning what their roles in life will be: from left to right we have the smart one, the shy one, the loose cannon with a heart of gold or whatever, and Schroeder from “Peanuts.”
Like something off “Project Runway,” but you don’t have to wear it. There’s nothing children love more than digging through the garbage or the compost heap and turning whatever they find into some kind of craft project. We especially like the “make art from postage stamps” idea. “Look what I made out of $50 worth of stamps!” When the kids run out of stamps, they can substitute dollar bills. And that giant sea shell centerpiece looks super-easy and not frustrating at all, doesn’t it? This is probably best for kids who find 5000-piece jigsaw puzzles too quick and easy.
Mind games (fun for Mom and Dad, too!). Gather the children around a giant radio like this one. If you don’t have a giant radio, a hot water heater or old Christmas tree stand will work, too. Tell the kids if they wait patiently — and most importantly, quietly — a magical elf will appear out of it and give them presents. This can go on for hours or even days if you play up the magicalness of the elf and the excellence of the presents. At the end of the day, you can say, “I’m sorry, I guess the elf didn’t come because you weren’t quiet enough. And didn’t clean up your room. Well, crying about it certainly isn’t making it more likely that the elf will come tomorrow.”
Building model whatevers. This is especially good for older children and can kill weeks. Look how proud and NOT AT ALL BORED this kid looks.
The Biggest Gainer. One of the great public health crises of today is that American children are dangerously underweight. We’re almost positive that’s what the news stories have been saying lately. Here’s an easy way to bulk your kids up: they can be 10 pounds heavier in just 5 months! Have a contest in your neighborhood to see who can gain the most weight!
Now That’s What I Call Daylight Saving Time! Adjust the clocks ahead a little every night. “Look, it’s bedtime!” If you play your cards right, you can have your kids going to bed at 6 p.m. by mid-summer. They’ll probably be exhausted from trying to digest all that bulk-inducing Ovaltine, anyway.
Build a Gee-Joggle! We don’t even know what this is supposed to be, actually, but whatever it is, IT SURE LOOKS SAFE. You may want to locate the nearest urgent-care clinic before attempting this one.
Like portability, only sort of the opposite. If all else fails, order the Kiddie-Koop. 87 out of 100 doctors say a child is safer in one of these than playing on that Gee-Joggle contraption.
We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful. Let us know if you find other great summertime inspirations in our digital collections! And if you’ve burned through all these suggestions and it’s only July 4th, don’t worry: before you know it August will be here, and the kids will be back in an overcrowded classroom shoving their lunches in each other’s faces.