An Old-Fashioned Summer
In summer it's hot!
But with no beach, pond or pool,
At home water is cool.
I have many fond memories of the hot, lazy days of summer. When air conditioning was rarely in every room, we would go to the "air-cooled" movie theatre for relief from the heat. I recall a fan blowing air over a block of ice at my grandmother's. She would take me to the park to play in the sprinkler or get a snow cone. At home, we cooled off walking barefoot in the puddles after a shower. We made popsicles and lemonade and had them almost every day. Did you know that a piece of ice can cool your whole body? Just place it on your pulse and the cool travels through your system!
Summer warmth and heat means it's time to play outside and water provides the perfect beginning to all kinds of adventures. Your children will have fun and find ways to cool off with water beyond the traditional wading pool or sprinkler.
Give a few of the following ideas a try, and along the way, no doubt you'll think of many more. None of them require an elaborate preparation or very special equipment.
In the Yard
- Add some water to the sandbox with a drip hose or watering can. Children can build castles, ponds, or construction sites. With a few small molds, they can create designs and roads.
- Children can be in charge of watering plants outside. For young children, a small watering can is easy to manage - show them how to fill it at the outdoor faucet. This conserves water because a child with a hose will be likely to "over-water" everything!
- Attach a water-saving sprinkler or shower nozzle to a hose when the children have on their swimming suits.
- Painting with water is fun! Use a two-inch or larger brush and small bucket. Have the children "paint" the porch, rocks, a wall, or flower pots.
- A drop of biodegradable soap, a sponge, and a bucket of water provide an opportunity to clean the scooter, bike, porch steps, or chairs.
- If you are able to give up a corner of your garden, help the children make mud pies. Wet the soil generously, mix and fill small tins or lids, decorate with pebbles and sticks, then set in the sun to dry. Obviously this is for parents who don't mind some messy children, but you can always hose them off afterwards! You can also use dirt dug from the yard and mixed with water in an old dishpan. Children love to ooze the mud between their fingers and toes.
Water Projects in the House
- No need to wait for the sound of the ice cream truck coming down the street. Make your own popsicles using half water and half juice, poured into paper cups. For a handle, place a popsicle stick or tongue depressor into a thick slice of banana to hold it upright in the cup - the frozen fruit in the middle will be a special surprise. Or use our Star Popsicle Molds.
- What is summer without cool drinks? Of course, lemonade is mostly water. Older children can read the recipe, listing ingredients for a shopping trip, while a younger child might count the number of lemons and help measuring the water and squeezing the lemons.
- The natural next step is the lemonade stand. Depending on the age of the children, some adult help might be needed, but it's a wonderful experience and learning opportunity. Profits could be contributed to a non-profit that helps communities in developing countries provide clean drinking water.
- Few families have ice cube trays these days - but buy a few and create beautiful and healthy cubes with your children. A little wedge of lemon frozen in a cube is the perfect addition for the lemonade. You could also use berries or mint leaves. Not only can you put them in a glass of water, but they can be wrapped in a little napkin and sucked on.
- Don't forget that warm, wet bath or shower - anytime of day. Of course it's the perfect way to end the day, with bubbles, bath toys, and scrub-a-dub-dub!
Have Fun and Stay Cool
There are lots of ways you can continue to consider water, its uses, and our need for it. Talk about it when you think of it. Impart information, but casually and incidentally. For example, chat about how we all need water, and that we need even more in the summer when we are perspiring. Conserving water might come up when children are brushing their teeth and learning to turn off the water while they brush. You can talk about where water comes from, where the drain takes it, or how to be safe around water and water sports.
Have fun and be creative. You might have family games about conserving water. Maybe you and your neighbors could have a weekly water balloon toss or get together to wade in the stream. These ideas are just a beginning. Your child will help you discover many more.
May your summer be wet and wonderful!
— by Jane M. Jacobs, M.A., Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services. She is a trained primary Montessori directress and also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has taught children aged 2 to 7 years in Montessori schools, Headstart, and also in a preschool for children with developmental challenges. In her counseling practice, she helps individuals, couples, and families.