Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES -- Outdoor activities in the summer can be fun and educational for children without being too expensive, said a New Mexico State University family life specialist.
For example, children enjoy putting on plays, said Diana DelCampo with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. Children can help create a stage by covering a table or a large cardboard box with a blanket. "Let the kids carry things outside because they really enjoy helping," she said.
A quiet time activity area provides children with a place to rest or read, she said. This can be created by placing a soft blanket and pillows under a tree or in the shade with a basket of books.
Outdoor art activities are good because they are easy to clean up. Attach paper to a wall or fence with clothespins or tape, set out paint cups and let children be creative. Sidewalks can be decorated with chalk. Clean-up is quick with a watering hose.
"An obstacle course is great for children to help set up," DelCampo said. Boxes and milk cartons can be used as obstacles. Tunnels and hanging crepe paper are fun for children to drive their wheeled toys through. "Now is a good time to start asking children to wear their helmets for later safety when they're riding their bikes or other wheeled vehicles in the neighborhood," she said.
Parents can help children create a nature study center. Bird baths, bird feeders or squirrel feeders will help attract animals to the center. "You can get a magnifying glass, binoculars and even a guide to insects or birds," DelCampo said.
Preschool children like to roll a ball at a target or toss a ball into a basket or hoop. School age children like to bounce or dribble a ball, or use a racket to hit a ball towards a wall or into the air. "Make sure you have enough balls so all children have a chance to play at the same time," DelCampo advised.
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