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Summer Activities for All

Yay! Summer is here and it’s time to explore! This week I will feature local parks, but even if you don’t live in Cincinnati, you can still find a park near your home. Better still, come for a visit to our town!

  • Go on a nature walk/hike. Take along a notebook and find a spot to stop and draw something is of interest. It can be a plant or an animal such as a bird. Pack some identification books to help you with unknown plants and animals.
  • Play on a new playground. Tired of the same ol’ playground in your area? How about finding a different one to take the children to play? It will seem like a mini vacation, but you’ll be home in time for dinner. 🙂
  • Exercise! Pull the plug on the video games and electronics and go for a bike ride or a long walk. Both of the Hamilton County Parks I have listed below also have horse trails if you feel adventurous.

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Local Parks

The Cincinnati Parks Foundation has three amazing parks along the Ohio River that are family friendly and give your children the chance to run and play. Not only is there a playground along the walkway, but there are a few large water fountains that your children can play in, and a carousel you can pay to ride. The Waterfront Parks system consist of three major Cincinnati Parks: Theodore M. Berry International Park,  Sawyer Point & Yeatman’s Cove and the  Smale Riverfront Park that is by the Great American Ballpark so you can go and catch a Reds game after you are finished playing.

Hamilton County Parks has done a fantastic job of providing green space in the greater Cincinnati area.  There is a motor vehicle fee to get into the park and you may either purchase a day pass for $3.00 or an annual pass of $10.00 that will give you access to all of the county parks and includes discount coupons to use throughout the park system.

Parky’s Farm has a fully functional farm with horses, goats, chickens,sheep, and bees. There is a garden for children to see and trails to meander along. The barn and outdoor pens allow children to see the animals up close.  If you take some extra money with you, your children can take a horse ride or play in the indoor playground.  Parky’s Farm is a part of Winton Woods that has an outdoor spray park and playground. Bring along a fishing pole to cast your line from either shore or a rental boat. There is also a pontoon boat to take a cruise along the lake. If you’d like to spend the night, there is also a camp site or small cabins to rent.

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Miami Whitewater Forest is  beautiful and is the largest park in county. While it does have an amazing lake with fishing and boating, and a beautiful golf and frisbee golf course, it has something that no other county park has that is quite so nice.  It has a 7.8 mile hike/ bike path that meanders through the countryside (where I grew up) and has spurs off it as well so you can extend your biking experience if you like. If your children are not able to go on the long bike trail, there is a shorter inner trail that is 1.4 miles long.

My friends have a bike shop called West Trail Bikes and it is a quick jaunt off the bike path to their place on New Haven Road. You can rent or purchase a bike if you would like something different than the rentals that are offered at the park. There is a quaint country shop adjoining their shop and a little grocery store (that I worked at when I was in college) where you can get an ice cold drink and a snack. You can hop back on the bike trail at several points from the town of New Haven.

If you have never been to Miami Whitewater Park, make a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch, your swimsuits for the spray/ water park,  and a pair of binoculars for wildlife watching while you are hiking the many wooded trails. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Metro Parks of Butler County has 10 great parks, but the newest park called Voice of America MetroPark is the one with which I am most familiar. There is a nice playground that is next to the air conditioned Wheelhouse, which has bathroom facilities and a vending machine to get snacks and drinks.

There is a nice sized lake and a walking/biking path along it. Fishing is allowed in certain areas and there are benches along the way to stop and rest or just enjoy the nature you will see. During the winter there is also a sledding hill, so be sure and visit then too!

Safety and Manners Books

51TsXHfXeaL._AA160_I found these darling books for you to read to your early elementary students. The first one by author Margery Cuyler is called Please Play Safe! The book first gives a scenario of the wrong way to act and then takes the scenario and gives the right way to act. It not only includes safety, but also ways to treat others. This can lead to great discussions to have with your child about the playground and being a good neighbor while there.

51wH13KI7QL._UX160_Another book in the series is called Please say Please! Here Penguin has guests over for dinner  and his friends need some help in using etiquette. Just as the other book has a poor behavior scenario and a proper behavior scenario to follow, so does this book. This is a great book to use before going to Grandma’s for dinner!

18 Activity Bag Ideas

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Doctor’s appointments or traveling in the car for long distances provide children with the opportunity to practice being patient and waiting. But, these periods of time can be longer than anticipated and is a perfect time to have an activity bag along for your child(ren). Some items to include are a folder to put papers in, a large gallon bag to put the individual activities inside and a bag to keep all your goodies organized and portable. Keep in the car so you aren’t spending extra time looking for it. Here are some items to include for your bag:

  • Travel size games such as Connect Four or Checkers
  • A book
  • Drawing pad
  • Pencils, both colored and regular
  • Washable markers
  • Math worksheets for extra practice
  • Mad Libs are a fun way to practice parts of speech with fill-in-the-blank stories. Print off a few for an entertaining and educational activity.
  • Hidden Pictures were the only bright spot I remember when I was little and going to the doctor’s office. Now you can have some of these from Highlights to add to your child’s bag.
  • Small Lego set
  • Rubber bands to make friendship bracelets
  • Stickers
  • Stationary cards to write a note to a friend or family member
  • Action figures or small dolls

If you have little ones include the following:

  • Large popsicle sticks with velcro on each end of the stick so they can be used to connect to other sticks. These can be colored for your precious one to match.
  • Duplos
  • Chenille sticks (pipe cleaners) can be used to create various shapes. You can have several shapes already made and trace onto paper so they can match the shapes. This activity can be extended by tracing with various colors and have coordinating colored shapes they match.
  • Pom Poms are great for matching and making things. Put them in a snack bag or a large medicine bottle.
  • A few favorite books

10 Indoor Activities for Preschoolers

imagesRunning and jumping are natural extensions of what preschoolers are all about, but sometimes it can be a bit much when having to stay inside. With just a little guidance  those wiggles can be a lot of fun. What are some ideas that you can do with your preschoolers? Here are some to try.

Bubble blowing is a lot of fun to do indoors. Try this activity during bath time. The soap bubbles dissolve in the water and no sticky mess to clean up.

Building with wooden blocks is a tried and true activity. Keep the blocks in a large bin for easy clean up and storage. Have a contest to see who can build the highest or the widest structure.

Sock toss is always fun when folding laundry. Set up the target, which can be the laundry basket. Socks can be either individual or made into a sock ball.

Hide and Seek can be played by hiding a stuffed toy and then walk through the house with your little one saying if they are “hot” (getting close to finding it), or “cold”, going further away from where it is hidden.

Create an indoor fort was one favorite activity my boys loved to do. Get an old sheet or two and drape over a table.  Put favorite books and a snack for your preschooler to enjoy.

Simon Says can be a game to introduce or reinforce body parts. How to play is that when you says “Simon Says”, each person must do what has been commanded. For instance , Simon Says, “Touch your nose.” If you do not say Simon Says, but give a command,the person who did it is out. But, with little ones I wouldn’t say anyone is out. I just remind them of the rules and keep going.

Hand puppets with your odd socks keeps preschoolers entertained for quite awhile. Allow them to decorate with googly eyes. Read a favorite book to your child and have them act out the parts of the book or have free play.

Post Office I just thought of this as I was throwing away junk mail. Let your little one play mail carrier. Save your mail for a few days so that this can be played. Make  mailboxes from old shoeboxes. Decorate the box and have your preschooler practice their name and address by writing on it with crayons or washable markers.  Sort the mail into magazines/ catalogs and envelopes. Put the mail in a bag and then deliver it to the mailboxes.

Grocery Store is so much fun for little ones. Save your empty cereal boxes, soup cans (cleaned, of course!), and paper products such as paper towels and napkins. Have one person be a cashier and the other person be the customer. Either purchase play money or make your own out of green construction paper.

Statue Game is a game for moving and listening. Play some music and have your little one move around. Pause the music and have your preschooler “freeze” like a statue. Start the music again and have your little one move again. Practice fact movements when the music is fast paced and moving slowly when the music is slower.

Have fun!

~Lisa

10 Indoor Activities for Little Ones

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When the weather is not conducive to being able to go outside, what can your little do? Check out thees activities you can do with your toddlers and early preschoolers. Don’t have little ones? I am going to have a series of activities for different ages. Next week will be activities for older preschoolers. 

Little Ones

  • Dress Ups A container of “costumes” is always a big hit. Items to include for boys and girls are things like a: hat, sunglasses, tutu, tie, belt, scarf, boa, jewelry, play fireman hat, and a play construction safety helmet. The thrift store and stores who have cheaper ticket items (such as the Dollar Tree) can help you stock your costume stash for not a lot of expense. Better still, ask other people if they have some items they would like to contribute.
  • Playdoh is an all-time favorite. Put a piece of wax paper on the table to keep the dough from sticking to your table. If you have a biscuit  or cookie cutter, let your child(ren) make shapes. Be sure and let your little one know that they can’t eat their creations!
  • Sugar Cookies Speaking of eating cookies, what about making a big batch of sugar cookie dough and allow them to cut out shapes with you? After they are cooled let them decorate them.
  • Pom pom sort A bag of pom poms of various sizes can be used to create sorting activities. Sort according to size (big, little), color, texture (fuzzy/prickly). You can add cotton balls to the mix as well for more things to sort.
  • Lids and bowls were always a thing my boys loved to play with. For some reason, my boys loved to have them all in a drawer or bin. They loved taking them out, throwing them on the floor, and of course. banging them together. If you have a headache, you may want to do this on a different day!
  • Ball/ Bean Bag Toss Find  a container or laundry basket and something soft to throw for target practice. This is terrific for developing gross motor skills.
  • Obstacle Courses can be created by using tape to walk along as a “balance beam” and  follow in a zig zag or serpentine pattern; you can include a chair to climb up and down on; and pillows to jump onto. The possibilities are endless!
  • Paper Plate Trail. Have colored or paper plates taped down on the carpet and have your chid jump from one to another. Call out a color if they know that. If you are working on numbers, write a large number on the plate and call the number for them to jump onto.
  • A Balloon Bop is a great way for little ones to get moving. How many times can they hit the balloon with their hand before it falls to the ground? How many times with their head? Name a different body part to keep your child interested and reviewing body parts. Calling out the number of times the balloon is hit will help them learn their numbers.
  • Water Station Fill up the kitchen sink and add various containers for your youngster to fill and empty. Plastic items such as cups, cereal bowls, food storage containers and measuring cups and spoons were my boys’ favorites.