Everyone loves beating the heat, but not everyone has a pool at their disposal. Although we can go to a pool often, I know my boys would love to have some refreshing water activities to enjoy the summer months and so I went looking… on Pinterest, because where else would you find such good ideas?
I wanted some new ideas, ones that my children may not have enjoyed yet and I found some!
Here are 10 Water Activities – No Pool Required
- Sponge Water Bombs – These are as fun as they sound and I can't wait to bombard my husband when he returns home from a long hot day, because we roll that way in our home.
- Water Balloon Pinatas – This idea takes water bowls (one of my families favorite summer fun) to a whole new level of fun.
- Hand Eye Coordination Play – My son absolutely loved this summer fun – all year long! And he still does!
- Marble Run Water Slide – What a ‘cool' idea to get the kids playing outside, splashing in the water and having fun together.
- Roll Six and SPLASH! – What a fun game that can be played and enjoyed by the youngest and oldest members of your family.
- Bobbing for Nemo – This twist for bobbing for apples would be a big hit in our home.
- DIY Water Slide – One of my children's favorite thing to do is summer is to attach a hose to our play set and create their own water slide. They will go up and down that slide for as long as we allow them to run the water.
- Water Balloon Slingshot – We picked up one of these at the summer clearance sale and we were smart enough to buy two of them. Instead of ‘dodge ball' we are going to play ‘dodge balloon' and I. CAN. NOT. WAIT!
- Water Table – This was a great invention for little ones! They just love to pour and dump.
- DIY Slip N' Slide – Purchase a good size tarp, add a small amount of dish soap and then the water. This will prove to be a great cooling off activity the whole family would enjoy! Of course, you will need to see who slides the furthest, so consider water prove shoes as markers. If you have a lot of space, you may want to purchase the world's longest backyard slip n' slide!
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We all want our children to not be afraid of water and to learn to swim early, not only for their safety but also for their enjoyment. This is why swimming lessons are growing more and more popular. Not everyone can afford swimming lessons for their children or after reading this post, you may not want to take the lesson route.
How to Teach Your Child to Swim Without Lessons
None of our four children have ever had swimming lessons, yet how they learned all seemed different and at different ages. When I taught our last child to swim at four years old, the youngest any of our children to learn this life skill, I realized that this was something more parents need to know about and enjoy teaching their child to swim, on their own.
I will be transparent with you, at the beginning of the summer that I taught our son to swim, I almost put him in lessons because he didn't fear the water and I was thinking it was going to take all summer long to teach him and was nervous of what could happen if I didn't put him in lessons.
Imagine my surprise that within one week of my husband and I talking about putting him in lessons, he was already ‘swimming' in the kids pool and within two weeks after that, he was jumping off the diving board into 9 feet of water.
These steps work and they are so much fun to do with your child, who will trust you more than they would a stranger, which is why I believe they make a lot of sense.
You Teach Your Child to Fear or Love the Water
The first thing that I realized when our youngest was a newborn was that my reactions when my children were in water was what turned them into fearing water. Babies are not born afraid of water, as it is a natural feeling for them and it is proven that babies can easily hold their breath under water and can even swim.
This is when I realized that my reaction of when water was on my children's face, when they slipped under water in the tub, or when they were splashed and didn't realized it was coming was all creating a reaction in their own mind that water was to be feared.
I avoided this reaction with our youngest and he was our first that loved to be in water. He never cried when he slipped in the tub, but would rather clap his hands with me, as I praised him that he was learning ‘how to swim' like a big boy. He loved to have water poured over his head and loved to splash in the water and be splashed.
So the first step to teaching your child to learn to swim is to help them love the water.
If they already have a fear of water, you will need to work harder but you can still do it. I know because our older three had fear and all of them are excellent swimmers.
Make Water Activities Fun
Give your children time to play and learn to enjoy water but giving them a lot of time to play during their bath time. At a young age turn their small pool into a fun learning place that will make them see that water can be fun and not scary, even if they already have a level of fear, they will learn to relax with the destruction of play things in their pool.
As they begin to get more comfortable, increase the amount of water in their little pool.
Many children do not like water in their ears, which can lead to painful swimmers ear. These Ear Band-It work for all ages, and increase the fun in water without the risk of ear pain later.
Equip Your Child With Flotation
There are a lot of products on the market that are for flotation, but there is only one that I feel will help your child learn to relax and enjoy the water, and learn the true buoyancy of the water and that is the Puddle Jumper.
This one flotation device that is approved by the US Coast Guard is the only thing that I know made the biggest difference for our youngest child.
My favorite thing about the Puddle Jumper life jacket is that it will roll a child over, eliminating the face down dangers of many of the other flotation devices on the market. However, when a child first wears this, they must learn how to ‘balance' themselves in the water with this device. This step doesn't take long to master, as long as you give your child the space to learn it and that means ‘letting go of them' while they are in the water.
Once a child learns the skill of keeping up right in the water, the puddle jumper will give them the confidence to do what kids do best… imitate others. They will begin to kick their feet and move their arms, to try to be like the swimmers around them.
Demonstrate the Difference Without Flotation
The Puddle Jumper grows a child's confidence so quickly that they will believe they can swim, even without it. It is very important for the child to understand that the buoyancy is coming from the device and not their skills, which is a great time to start training some of those necessary ‘swimming skills'.
During this phase for our son, we would go in the 2 foot area of our local pool and take off the Puddle Jumper to let him practice some of the arm and kicking that he would do with it on.
One time, we didn't say anything and just watched him. This time, he just acted like it was on and went under the water. He quickly came up with a shocked look on his face and we were all clapping and cheering that he was starting to swim.
That was the day we started his lessons.
Teach Them to Hold Their Breathe
When starting focused lessons, I would suggest starting with learning how to hold their breathe. This is a picture of my four year old, when he was learning to swim.
- Blow bubbles in the water – We would often have fun with blowing bubbles at the surface of the water, just to get our child use to have at least their chin in the water with an activity that can be fun for you to do together. You do this by vibrating your lips together to make a motorcycle type of a sound. The water will move with this action and the child will love it.
- Blow in the face of your child – Teaching your child how to hold their breath without having to physically close their nose is as easy as blowing in their face. If you child is younger or not afraid of the water, you can even put them under the water after blowing in their face, as the natural reaction is to hold their breathe. This method is a great way for them to learn to do this on their own when water comes close to their face.
- Holding their nose – Of course, if you child is older and already dealing with fear about water, the trick of holding their nose closed with their hand. They can practice this with putting as much as their face as they prefer under the water.
- Jumping into the water from the side of the pool – The Puddle Jumper is a great flotation for a child to learn how to jump into the pool and it can serve as a told to teaching them to hold their breathe because in our experience, our son held his breathe each time he jumped into the water, and he would go completely under the water and then the flotation brought him up quickly.
Lesson Time for Swimming
Once your child has these key things learned, it is time to focus on actually teaching swimming. Remember that children are natural imitators and why not use that as part of your swimming lessons. Have older children, who know how to swim already, and avoid being surrounded by non-swimmers or children afraid of the water, because children are natural imitators and this can be what they they choose to imitate verses the swimmers.
During these lessons, you will want to put the Puddle Jumper away.
The only thing you will really need is a pool that is either at the level of the child's upper chest/chin or just over their head, but not over your head.
Start with ‘baby steps' by having them hold on the wall or another person and swim to you any way they can. This should be really close at first and the more the confidence grows the further distance you can provide.
You will want to focus on helping them learn better ways of swimming, like kicking their feet and moving their arms in the water.
Make these lessons fun and don't make them too long.
If you are going to be in the water for 1 hour, have the first 5-10 minutes of fun, then turn the next 5 minutes working on kicking while the child swims to you. Then have them swim back to the wall or the person helping you. Repeat this for that time period.
Then go back to having fun.
Next, work on going under the water to swim with kicking (building on what you already focused on) for 5 minutes. Enjoy the pool for another 5-10 minutes.
Then come back and work on the arm movements for 5 minutes, moving back further (providing more space between you and the learner) to see how the first two lessons are helping.
Always make the lessons fun and trying to stretch your child to push themselves just a little more than what they did the last time. Have them look back to see how much they did and celebrate together.
I hope these tips give you the confidence and ideas to teaching your child to swim without lessons.
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With the extra time that summer usually brings us, I would encourage you to use some of that time for summer service to others. Demonstrating to others that they matter is a lesson often forgotten and so important to learn. Starting somewhere is a good thing, so I'm going to share seven ideas with you for summer service that your family can do together, but start with the one or two that fit who you are best. You will be glad you did!
7 Summer Service Ideas for Your Family
- Raise Money for an Orphanage – Our hearts are tied to Door of Hope Palawan, but you may know of another. Do a yard sale, bake sale or just collect change and donate it to an orphanage.
- Collect Denim to Make Shoes – There is a great opportunity to help those who need shoes for their health and an organization is meeting this need with denim! Learn how you can be a part of this great way to recycle old denim for a new purpose with Sole Hope.
- Collect School Supplies – Every year our family does Operation Christmas Child, which packs shoe boxes for children around the world. They only give one box to one child and that child will hear about Jesus before getting their first gift and owning something for the first time. Read about how I met one of those children who received a box and literally changed his life. Take the summer when school supplies are cheapest and ask those you know to donate for your own boxes for later in the year.
- Collect Winter Coats and Blankets – Often times, summer finds families cleaning out their closets and getting rid of excess. This is a great time to collect items for the homeless in your area.
- Visit a Nursing Home – Most people think about this around Christmas time, but all year long is a great time to visit the elderly.
- Start a Food Pantry – There is needy all around us and what a great opportunity to do a service in the summer to start a food pantry in your home or church. Collecting canned goods or boxed items and delivering it to those you know could benefit or having them come to you for their needs is a great thing! If this is too big for your family, considering helping organizations that do this every day, like Food for the Hungry.
- Be a Good Neighbor – Do you know of those in your neighborhood that could use an extra hand? Maybe an elderly couple could benefit from your family doing their yard work, a stay-at-home mom needing some child care help, or maybe new parents or those who are sick needing a home cooked meal.
If you want more serving ideas, check out A Year Schedule for Family Charity Fun…
When my older children were young, I would homeschool year round in order to keep a routine, which they thrived on. It wasn't until a few years later, when I had my third child and they were about 6 and 8 years old that I personally felt a need to change routines in order to have time to plan their homeschooling and add things to our schedule that our homeschooling routine seemed to miss.
Truly believing that “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.” (Charlotte Mason), I was determined to find ways that provided for education in a way that felt like a vacation to me and to them.
How to Make Summer Learning Feel Like a Vacation
Focus on Life Skills
This is a huge part of education and life, so why not spend 3 months focusing on things that will help your children in their own adulthood? During the summer months, I focus on skills like swimming, learning more chores around the house – like laundry, cooking or mowing the lawn, how to shop for bargains at the store and at yard sales and organization to name a few.
These are the things that make well rounded people and capable of learning more responsibilities, as well as provides for an easier start to our school year when my children have learned more things to help in our home and feel accomplished in learning new things.
Focus on Hobbies
Not having books to fill our mornings, it has been helpful to have my children learn new hobbies in the summer when we have more time to help them learn how to do the basics of the hobby. My children have learned a lot of different kinds of hobbies, some lasting longer than others but all important to finding what they really like!
Once they have had more time learning how to do a hobby, it allows their fall and winter months to be filled with more opportunities to fill their free afternoon time with good things.
Focus on Free Reading
I tend to run a tight ship when it comes to what is read during the school year, although the selections are based off each individual child, however this doesn't always foster a love of books and that is my goal in my children's education.
During the summer months, I require some reading but I do not have any input on what is read. This has been amazing for my children who ‘don't like to read' because they are in complete control of what they read, after they understand and respect the guidelines of appropriate reading material.
Focus on Field Trips
Vacations are always on family's mind in the summer, and our family is no different! We are blessed to live in a historically rich area and have a lot of opportunities for a one day vacation that would completely count as a learning field trip.
Learning what is in your area can really be a great way to fit in the field trips that are so important and often neglected during the school year.
Focus on Service
Spending a portion of your summer in service to others is a great education. There are a lot of opportunities for summer services, one we like to do is for an orphanage close to our hearts, Door of Hope Palawan.
Focus on Electives
Summer time is a great time to focus on credit for electives with your middle school and high school children. Get your photography loving teen to be your family photographer on your field trips and learn about photography when time isn't so crazy with out work, then turn their work into a keepsake!
In the end, learning to maximize the lazy days of summer to fill your days with learning in a way that looks so different than a homeschool day will really make the most of your homeschooling year!
We all look forward to summer and the feeling it brings. We have some ideas of things we want to do in summer, but do you really plan for the summer you desire in a way that will help you make the most of the added family time and beautiful weather that allows for so many activities outside?
Summer time is upon us. How will you spend it?
For many families, they focus on a family vacation and put all their planning efforts to make that week amazing. Why not plan to make the rest of your summer amazing?
How to Plan for the Summer You Desire
Enjoy Your Area
Why not vacation in your own area? These vacations are called ‘Staycations' and are just as amazing as planning one week somewhere else. Often times there are free or cheap things to do with your family in your own area that will prove to make your summer amazing.
Keep Learning ALIVE
Children are often bored if they don't have enough to entertain them. I created a Summer Learning Checklist that my children can do on their own, filled with learning through play that will give them a great summer of learning!
Create a Summer Bucket List
Before the summer comes in a full swing, consider making your own summer bucket list with your whole family. You may not get to everything on this list, but it would be a great list for your family to work on each summer. Add more things as you think of them and just keep working on them, as you go through this summer.
Find Time to Just Relax
Summer is a perfect time to find time to relax, rather at the pool or on your porch in the evening. It is really the perfect time to grab one of those books you have been wanting to read and get started resting your body, and engaging your mind.
Plan to Save
The more you plan for your family's summer, the easier it is to save money while on a summer vacation. Some places have discounted days, or even free days. You just need to plan ahead and you can really save big!
Start a New Hobby
We love to work on skills during the summer, and it has proven to be a good thing to do during the summer. I have list 10 Hobbies Perfect for Summer Fun that I'm sure your children will enjoy, because they are the ones that my children have learned during their summer breaks.
Focus on Helping Others
We all love to do something good for other people, but often times our schedules stand in the way of really doing what we desire. I encourage you to plan at least one of these summer ideas for charities that I'm sure your family will love as much as our family does. Our family always does something special for our favorite orphanage.
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Summer is a good time to get out of the books and into serving others. I would love to share with you a summer project that we are going to be doing in our home this summer and ask you to join us! You won't be sorry if you did and you will be teaching your children the joy of blessing others.
There is an orphanage in Palawan, Philippines that is close to my heart. This orphanage, Door of Hope Palawan was started by my childhood Pastor's family and is being ran by them today. I would love to introduce you to them and share a summer project that is easy and rewarding, but most importantly it will benefit the orphans who call Door of Hope Palawan their home.
I would like to share with you the words of my childhood Pastor, John Stutzman:
“The vision for this work came to me very suddenly and with great impact in a most unlikely place. It was the year 2001 and I was at the fruit and vegetable market in Puerto Princesa, the capital city of the island of Palawan. At this market poor children can often be seen selling large plastic bags to people who use them to consolidate their purchases. One of these children approached me and, as was my custom, I gave him much more than he asked, and told him to keep it to buy some food. He didn’t leave immediately, but stood a few yards away staring at me with a smile that made me wonder if he thought I was an angel or something.
What happened next effected my life dramatically…”
Read the rest of his story here.
What makes Door of Hope Palawan Worth Your Summer Attention?
Most orphanages are started by the hearts of missionaries living in the locations they are serving and seeing the needs, just like Door of Hope Palawan.
I can personally speak to the hearts of John, his daughter Anne and her husband, Luke, who run Door of Hope Palawan. They love people and love serving them, as they share the love of Jesus with them. They are missionaries first and have a heart for these fatherless children.
Within a small and faithful church in New York, this pastor's vision was started. They didn't approach me for help, I asked them how I could help them. You see, when you read YWAM missionary stories to your children, you can't just sit back and believe that God will meet the needs of those doing His work, without you. We all have a part to play in His plan… and this is my part!
What is your part?
A Summer Project to Benefit Orphans
Door of Hope Palawan has many needs, but nothing as important as sponsoring an orphan. They are not licensed to offer adoptions, so once a child comes to their orphanage, it is their child to raise and disciple for the Lord. We joyfully sponsor one child and would love to show you how you could do this easily for a summer project.
- Sponsor One Child for $25 a month – It still amazes me that the basic need of a child in the Philippines can be met with only $25. This may be something your own family would like to do on your own, like we do. It is easy to do through Paypal. If you ever find that it isn't something you can still do, you can easily cancel your sponsorship and know that you have helped a great deal already.
- Sponsor One Child for a year for only $300 – This is a great summer project! Raise money from those you know to unity to sponsor one child for a year. This can be done as a homeschool group, a church's youth group, young adult group, a church, or a neighborhood. Take a mason jar to the events you go to and ask those there for just their change (some may be dollar bills in their and that is okay) because most people carry change and will easily give that to a good cause.
- Donate to a Current Need – Door of Hope Palawan has current needs in addition to providing and caring for their orphans. I would encourage you to help spread the word to local businesses to donate what they can for these needs. It is a write-off and many times they are looking for great causes to support for just this reason.
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Get involved in other charities year round, with A Yearly Schedule for Family Charity Fun…