Summer Arts & Games & Kitchen Fun!

By Robin Williams, owner of Dragonfly Playschool

Let Kids Teach You
It is always fun to see beautifully made crafts, but little kids prefer the process over the outcome. They also like activities where they can be a part of the rules and control the environment rather than a specific game or craft with lots of rules or directions. Kids love to make up their own games and art projects.

Balloon Tennis With $1 Store Badminton Rackets
Blow up a balloon and hit back balloon and forth with each other. This is much easier and more fun than using that tiny birdie.

You can never go wrong with a great bubble machine and squirt bottles: Pop the bubbles by squirting them with your best shot. Missing a few bubbles is just as fun with a group of kiddos -getting wet is part of the fun!

Life Sized Bubbles.
Can you say “AWESOME?!” For the Bubble Solution you need: 5 Gallons of Water, 10 Cups of Dawn dish soap (regular not antibacterial), Kiddie pool and a hula-hoop. I found a few things to be helpful: Let this solution sit overnight. For some reason this helps. The less foam you make, the better your bubbles will be. Too much foam is the enemy to giant bubbles. Try to keep the splashing to a minimal here.

Squirt Bottle Painting
Grab a white bed sheet, fill water bottles with water and food coloring and go for it. Paint the whole sheet, it ends up tie-dyed. Then, do what you want with it. I cut mine up and made capes as butterfly wings during my bugs and butterfly camp.

Olympic Style Games
Obstacle courses are a ton of fun and the kids usually think of better ways to create a course than I do. Throw down some hula-hoops (or hang them up on a clothes line to toss balls through) grab some things to jump over or run around and you are set. Balance a plastic egg on a wooden spoon, walk backwards, hop, jump or crawl. This is always creative and full of laughs.

Exploding Fun
Grab a Costco sized bag of baking soda and vinegar and you are set. You can add food coloring, but the chemical reaction is what kids love. I use a very small cup, the kids scoop baking soda, then using a dropper (like you use for liquid medicine) squirt vinegar and voila! You can build a play dough volcano around the cup or go to your sand box and build a sand volcano around the cup.  The kids will do this over and over and over and over.

Dig for Frozen Treasures
Grab a plastic Tupperware and fill it with water. Add small goodies: make it a theme with your kids’ little dinosaurs, Legos, small gems, etc. Put in the freezer overnight. The next day, the kids get to dig out their treasures. Let them figure out how to rescue them by digging with utensils or sticks. You can also experiment with melting parts with rock salt or drops of warm water.

Summer Recipe Ideas:

We have made these during my little chef’s camps.

Keeping things fun, healthy and cool using what is in the garden is always best. Living in Chico requires staying cool in the summer and these recipes help do just that.

First, I highly recommend a snow cone machine to make healthy (yes, I said healthy) snow cones (I bought mine on line for $25.00 and it’s held up for 2 summers now). Stay away from store bought syrups. There is nothing in those that kids should consume!

Second, are easy to make, fruit chopstick pops. Use what you have or what’s being sold at the farmers market. These are fun for even the littlest hands to create.

Bonus: Okay, this is not exactly a “cool” recipe, but you can serve it over cool yogurt and your kids will think you are the coolest!! Ready?: Baked peaches. So easy, kids create them and they are as yummy as a laborious peach pie.

Mango Snow Cone Syrup
Makes 12 Servings (about 2 tablespoons per serving)

1 cup frozen or fresh mango chunks
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the mango, juice, and vanilla extract in a blender, and blend until well combined. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle and pour over shaved ice.

Blueberry Snow Cone Syrup
Makes 8 Servings (about 2 tablespoons per serving)

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place the blueberries, water, honey, and lemon juice in a blender, and blend until well combined. Pour the syrup into a squeeze bottle and pour over shaved ice.
Nutrition Information per Serving (2 tablespoons):  15 calories, 0g fat (0g saturated), mg sodium, 4g carbohydrate, 4g sugar, 1g fiber, 0g protein

Fruit Chopstick Pops
Pint Vanilla Yogurt
12 fresh Organic Strawberries, remove stems (or any fruit)
Bamboo Chopsticks
Assorted toppings
Chopped nuts
Shredded coconut

Line a sheet pan with Silpat or a clean brown paper grocery bag to fit, set aside.
Spoon 1 cup of yogurt into a small bowl. Insert 1 bamboo chopstick into the stem end of 2 strawberries or other fruit.
Using the chopstick as a skewer, dip the fruit pops into the yogurt. Add yogurt to bowl as needed.
Lay each pop on the prepared sheet pan and decorate with nuts, coconut, and sprinkles. Place in freezer for at least 2 hours before covering or serving.  Store covered in freezer until ready to serve.

Baked Peaches
Makes 4-6 Servings
Fresh peaches baked with brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon taste like peach pie without the pastry. Of course, these are delicious served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but they are also very good with Greek yogurt, drizzled with honey lavender syrup or just by themselves.

Brown Sugar
Slivered Almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the peaches cut-side up in a baking dish. Fill each peach cavity with brown sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and almonds. Pour enough water in the bottom of the pan to come ½ inch up the side of the pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until the flesh has softened and the tops are browned. Serve warm, with the toppings of your choice.

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