Archive for the ‘backyard circus’ category

Pep up August doldrums with a backyard circus

August 9, 2010
children and summer doldrums can be cured with some fun activities like a backyard circus, doing chores together like baking bread, sewing, having a yard sale, working together. Working together for fun and to create something teaches teamwork, builds a relationship and teaches a work ethic. Work can be fun. Doing childhood chores prepares children for school and life. chores are a way to teach children myriad skills. Celebrate the opportunity.

This photo is from and their third-annual backyard circus. Brooke describes how to do have the circus, requested to celebrate her birthday.

It’s August. Summer is wearing off and school routines look appealing. Here are some activities to enjoy with children. I suggest one organized activity per day with a parent. If a young persons says, “I’m bored,” solve it by saying, “Here’s a mop and a bucket, wash the kitchen floor.” Make a salad or dessert for dinner. The garden needs weeding. Organize the tools in the workshop. Help me clean out a closet or kitchen cupboard.

Fun creative activities – set them up and help when needed.

Help children set up a backyard circus. Let them take the lead as much as possible. Invite friends and neighbors to participate and adults to watch at 6 pm. Go here for more info.

Build a blanket fort. Decorate a big cardboard box and have lunch inside it. Act out the story in a picture book or a fairy tale. Set up a pretend school. Have an “Olympic” competition in the neighborhood – a bike race, foot race, three-legged race, relays and more. Let them play with the hose. Give them squirt guns or spray bottles and water balloons with the ground rule they must play outside and cleanup.

Parent-child activities – do together.

Cook something ambitious with them such as homemade soft pretzels, bread or whoopee pies. Make ice pops out of juice. Get an ice cream maker at a yard sale and use it once.

Work in the yard and garden. Clean out a closet, the fridge or freezer, chicken coop, garage, attic or whatever. Plan and hold a yard sale – negotiate how to share the proceeds. Sew or build something together. Paint a room. If it’s a child’s room, let them choose the color. Sponge paint a small room or bathroom. Even young children can help with this one. Lower your standards and remember that it can always be painted over. Have fun. Clean all of the windows in the house, or on the first floor. Fix a flat tire of a bike together and do other simple maintenance.

If your children are not used to working around the house with you, start slowly. Have a family meeting and suggest some of the above activities and let them choose which one they’d like to participate in, or ask for their help. Expect, encourage and appreciate their efforts. You are planting seeds for a lifelong work ethic and a strong family bond.

Set up a time frame in advance to work together. They’re more willing when there’s an end in sight. Younger children can participate for 30 or 40 minutes, older children for an hour or two; tweens and teens can take on projects for a half day or all day. You are nurturing a relationship, teaching them a work ethic, and sharing a new skill with them. It is worth the investment in time and energy. Welcome their suggestions on how to tackle the project and follow their lead when possible.