Recently, my nephew’s wife was mentioning how difficult it is to keep the two little ones happy when it’s too hot and humid to stay outside for very long (we’ve been under severe heat warnings!). So here are my suggestions for things to do when it’s just too hot out there for most outdoor activities:
~ Does your city offer splash pads? When my daughter was little all we had were wading pools but most of these have been upgraded to include splash pads here in London, Ontario and there are now free splash pads all over the city. It’s a great way to be active and get cooled off at the same time. Why not put on your bathing suit and join them? Locations of wading pools and splash pads in London Some of the local pools have extended their hours due to the excessive heat and I’ve heard some in the area have suspended their admission prices and are opening up free of charge. You could also head to East Park for their waterslides and tubing. Although regular rates still apply, they are staying open longer during this heat wave. Or go to Storybook Gardens – although again you’ll be outside in the heat, at least they have the splash pad area for cooling off! Children under 24 months are free and rates range from $6.50 to $7.50 with a family of four rate of $25.00.
~ No splash pads? How about setting up a kiddie pool or sprinkler in your own backyard? I strongly suggest setting up the sprinkler in such a way that it also waters your lawn or garden or even trees if you can do so safely as you get double use out of it. Move the sprinkler around so that other areas of your yard get watered too. Check on your local watering laws as in London right now we’re under watering restrictions! You could also head to a local beach – around here I’ve heard that Port Stanley and Grand Bend have been packed – but honestly, I don’t find beaches that great an idea on such a hot humid day unless I was planning to stay in the water the majority of the time. And, frankly, who wants to spend a whole day in Lake Erie or Huron? But if the beach is a viable alternative for you (maybe you’re lucky enough to live near an ocean), don’t forget to pack something like a beach umbrella to provide your family with some shade. And whatever you do, if you’re heading outside on any of these hot hot days, make sure you’re reapplying that sunscreen!
~ When I taught Kindergarten, we had a sand and a water table in the classroom. If a pool isn’t an option then what about setting up a sand and water table in the shade? Just use shallow containers like underbed shoe boxes or dish pans on a table, fill one with water and one with sand and let the kids muck around! For extra cooling off, add a few ice cubes to the water bin! Let kids get into a bathtub of cooler than usual water and play with water toys in there as an indoor alternative to kiddie pools, water tables, and splash pads.
~ Have some leftover party balloons? How about a water balloon fight or water tag? For little ones, those broken balloons can be dangerous and if they get hit with one, it might sting so another option (and a more eco friendly one!) is to use sponges – check out this tutorial on how to make sponge balls: http://blog.betzwhite.com/2008/06/sponge-balls.html You could even just play catch with them – everytime you catch one, you’ll get a little bit wetter!
~ Head to the library! Not only do many libraries offer fun summer programming (ours includes craft workshops, story times, free movies, summer reading programs in which children can win prizes and more) but ours are functioning as cooling centres for the city as well. London Public Libraries
~ Check out indoor venues that are family friendly. For example, in our city we have Adventures on Wonderland, an indoor playground. Admission rates: Infants under 1 are free, prices for 1-12 year olds range from $4.95 to $10.74, and adults are free. There are special package rates as well and a round of laser tag (great for running off some energy!) is $3.50. Go bowling or rock climbing at Fleetway. And my favourite, the London Regional Children’s Museum is offering FREE admission on Friday evenings from 5-8 pm. If you want to head there at a different time, check out their website for a coupon giving half price admission for children with each paying adult.
~ For a fun summer evening activity, check out the Hume Cronyn Observatory at the University of Western Ontario. On Saturday nights throughout the summer they are open to the public free of charge and you get the opportunity to go and look at the night sky through their big telescope. There is at least one of the astronomy professors on site to answer questions and often others will set up and let you have a look through smaller telescopes as well. The night we went not only did we get an amazing view of the Moon but we could see Saturn, right down to its rings! Check out this blog post for an account of my recent visit: http://cynchronicity.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/an-evening-at-the-observatory/
~ A few weeks ago I suggested a scavenger hunt as a fun summer activity – what about adapting this idea and creating an indoor one? It could be using words or pictures depending on reading level. You could create lists of just random items that will keep the kids busy moving about the house or make the lists with a purpose – ie have them bring everything they find and they’ll be cleaning the house without even realizing it or have all the items they’re looking for actually be the materials needed for a craft or some other additional activity.
~ Of course crafts are fun indoor activities but how about doing ones that add an extra cooling aspect to them? For example, ice cube painting! Freeze coloured water (use food colouring) – you might want to add pieces of string or yarn in them or even popsicle sticks so they have something to hold onto once the cubes are formed. Remove the cubes from ice cube tray and let the kids paint with them on plain white paper. Kids who are old enough not to try eating it can finger paint with shaving cream (don’t use the warming kind of course!) while little ones can do the same with something like yogurt or pudding.
~ When I was in the hospital once (in a wing with no air conditioning in August!), the nurses would give us a nightly back rub with cornstarch to help cool us off before we went to sleep. I used this same technique with my daughter – it’s soothing and cooling. We keep our aloe vera and vitamin e gels in the fridge so that they’re cold when applied (lovely on a sunburn or just to cool off after a hot day) and some lotions work well this way too.
~ Design Dazzle has been running a “Summer Camp” series with all kinds of crafts and other activities to do with the kids. Great ideas there for at home fun!
~ Check out these tips from the Middlesex London Health Unit on keeping safe and cool in this heat: http://www.healthunit.com/article.aspx?id=16974
What suggestions do you have for beating this summer heat?