When you hear the word summertime, what comes to mind? For some people, "summertime conjures up images of full-blooming nature, fluttering butterflies, and nighttime crickets. It also reflects sweltering sheets, stagnant heat, and restless nights where flipping over a cool pillow is the only way to survive."
Others would rather bask in the memories of getting up at the crack of dawn to fish in their favourite "secret" spots, or revisit the city campground/park, where they would canoe, kayak, or go tubing.
For me, "summertime" and "fun" go together like burgers and barbeques. My memories of summertime during my childhood are drenched in sunshine. It obviously must have rained, from time to time, every year, but when I close my eyes and think of summer, I can only remember spending most of every day in my bathing suit, running through sprinklers, trading homemade Kool-aid popsicles with friends, and playing hide-and-seek by the hour. During the seemingly endless days of summer, we swam, rode our bikes, and picnicked on the beach with friends and family.
As a parent, however, some of my memories of summertime are a little less idyllic. I remember scrambling for activities to fill the endless rainy days at a cottage. Not being particularly "crafty", I would dig out old Christmas cards and magazines (to cut up), jigsaw puzzles, and the ever-reliable standby, movies from the local library.
So when I came across Terri Mauro's (About.com: Special Needs Children) article on Fun Things to Do Today, I dearly wished this list had been available about 10 years ago.
One of the fun activities on her list that looked "cool", if you'll pardon the pun, was ice cube paintings. This is a craft for young and old alike, and you'd need very little in the way of supplies. A box, a piece of paper, Jell-O or Kool-Aid (she also suggests powdered tempera paint) and an ice cube. Put them together, and voila, an instant fun activity for a rainy day.
One enterprising mom uses water to entertain her child, but knowing that her autistic child loves nothing better than turning on faucets throughout the house, she capped the faucets she didn't want turned on. In order to keep the water bill manageable, she bought a small plastic pool.
"Once it is filled, I put plastic milk jugs in it with the ends cut off or holes poked in it so that when filled with water, they make different types of water formations. AND, invest in a small fountain, a little second-hand one that you could quite happily put into a fishtank, is enough to circulate the water and make them believe that they are getting running water.
What you are actually doing is recycling the water that is already in your small pool."
The National Autistic Society said, "As with all children, children with autism have a wide range of likes and dislikes. Shields (1999) has compiled a list of toys that have been demonstrated as being popular with young children with autism. They include toys which are visually interesting (e.g. bubbles, shape and colour matching or sorting toys, jigsaws, Jack-in-the-box, lego, videos: especially Thomas the Tank Engine, Pingu and Disney); books, especially those with flaps or items to touch, puzzle books, word books, etc.; physical activity toys: e.g. swing, slide, trampoline, rocking horse, ride-on toys, climbing frame, football, etc.; games to play with other people: e.g., tapes of singing and dancing games, picture lotto, snap, Connect 4, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, chess; and computer software to develop vocabulary; factual software."
What about you? What do you do with your kids, or what did you do with your parents, on rainy days?
Photo credit: Neil MacDonald