Summer Fun!

Summer is winding down, as least it is in Memphis.  School starts back on August 6 – that’s only 2 short weeks away!  Don’t worry, there’s still time to have some great summer fun.  Here are a few ideas:

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Club:  Kids in grades 1-6 can receive a free book from Barnes & Noble by reading 8 books over the summer. They will need to fill out a Summer Reading Journal and bring the journal to a B&N location when they are finished.  They will then receive a coupon for a free book.

Local Library: Many libraries offer summer programs that include reading clubs or contests, special guest illustrators/authors, entertainers, craft time, or fairs. Most are free and open to the public, although some might require prior registration.

Playgroup Fun:  Do you belong to a group organization for mothers with children (i.e. a playgroup or church group)? Contact the local fire station or police station. Most officers are more than welcome to provide free tours for children’s groups with advance notice. The kids will love it, and it’s free!

Visit a Local Museum:  Is there a museum in your area you have been meaning to visit, but haven’t? Some museums offer a “free day” where you can visit without paying admission. The same applies to some zoos.

Have a Cookie Baking Day:   Is it raining or just too hot? Make cookies, but be sure to let your kids do most of the work (and the clean up too, of course). Freeze some cookies for later or hear them giggle when they deliver some to a neighbor.

Sprinkler Day:  Delay your sprinklers for one day so they come a little later in the morning.  This way everyone can get on their bathing suits and have fun jumping through the sprinklers on a hot day.  But not for too long!  This is a good time to teach them about conserving water, reducing utility costs, etc.

Fly a Kite:  Check your 10-day forecast and look for a windy day in the coming week.  Pick up an expensive kite for the kids and head to the park.

Make Playdough:   Have the kids help you make the playdough (this recipe works without having to heat the playdough mixture on the stove – just use warm water).  Playdough is a great activity to encourage fine motor, speech and language skills.

Build a Fort:   A living room “fort” could be as simple as a few kitchen chairs gathered in a circle with a large bed sheet thrown across them and draped to the floor.  The kids can hide from mom and dad, read books, or pretend they are camping out in the living room.

Go Bowling:  Call the lanes ahead of time and ask if they have any summer specials (certain days may be cheaper). Also check those coupon mailer packs for coupons for free games.

Declare a “Bored” Game Day:  Few kids today don’t realize you can play games without a computer.  Most of these old board games are inexpensive in their basic form and can create great memories.

Break Out the Water Balloons:  Kids can participate in games like a water balloon toss – they start close together, but take a step back with each toss to increase the distance.  The last one to break the balloon is out.  With that was left, the kids can have an all-out water balloon battle.  Lots of fun, but be sure to pick up the balloon remains, especially if you have very little ones or pets as they could be a choking hazard.

Create a “Mini” Me:  Find a piece of large poster board, or large heavy-duty paper (such as a butcher paper) wide enough for your kids to lay down on.  Use a dull pencil (less chance for boo-boos) to trace their entire body to the paper from head to toe.  Now let the kids decorate the kids to look like themselves in the same clothes they are wearing, same color eyes, hair, etc. When they are finished, help them cut out their mini-me for proud display.

Enjoy Pajama Day:    I feel like having these days as an adult!  Stay in your pajamas all day long.  Make pancakes in the morning, bake a pizza for lunch, and lounge around watching movies.

Volunteer:  A good way to wrap up your summertime fun is to allow your children to donate to a worthy cause.  Contact a few local charities and find out which ones will allow kids to volunteer some time over the summer (under your supervision).

The best gift to give your child is you!  Quality time with your child creates the most precious memories.  Remember to plan ahead and have fun.


Adapted from the following sources:
Frugal Dad   

Dave Ramsey

The Benefits of Sign Language


In the past decade or so, sign language has expanded beyond the deaf community. Many therapists, teachers and parents have started implementing sign language while working with children with developmental delays.  These children and families are using a Total Communication approach that uses and encourages all methods of communication – from hearing speech, signing, talking, reading, writing, etc.  One of the benefits of Total Communication is that it’s adjusted to fit the needs of the child.

Using sign language has several benefits for you and your child.  Always say the word while you are signing to help your child associate the sign with its meaning.  This develops listening skills and visual attention – which are both important in the development of spoken language (Hendrickson, 1988).  Other benefits include:

Improving Communication Skills:  Signs can help your child request and name objects, name people and expressive their wants and needs – which are important expressive language skills.

Increasing Confidence and Self-Esteem:  Children are empowered and are able to express their own wants and needs and make choices using signs.

Reducing Frustration:  Children with language delays and disorders are often frustrated when others don’t understand what they’re trying to say.  Signing gives them a way to communicate so others can understand.

Expressing Learned Concepts And Skills:  Many children understand more than they are able to say.  Signing allows a child to express their understanding of skills such as identifying and naming colors, shapes, letters, etc.

Increasing Social and Peer Interactions:  Signing provides a way for children to interact with their peers.  From signing “my turn” to “I want to play,” building peer relationships is important for social skills and language development.

If you and your child are learning signs, it’s important to be consistent and use the signs frequently.  For children with speech and language delays, it’s also important to encourage them to vocalize and make sounds while they are signing.  Many children will use sign language as a stepping stone to speech.  Children will first learn the sign, then start to vocalize while signing, then say the word and drop the sign.

There have been many studies about the benefits of sign language. All the studies show that when children learn to use signs, their vocabulary and reading skills increase.  For more information about the benefits of sign language and how to learn signs, please visit the following links:

Sign Language Research

The Comprehensive Signed English Dictionary

Signing Savvy

Sign Language for Special Needs

Signing Time Videos


Hendrickson, S. 1988. Sign Language Can Help Your Child. Communication Skill Builders.

Ricekehof, L. 1978. The joy of signing: The new illustrated guide for mastering sign language and the manual alphabet.  Gospel Publishing.


Establishing a Bedtime Routine

Sleep is important for all of us.  For children, lack of sleep can cause several problems including behavior issues and difficulty maintaining attention to tasks. In order to make sure that your child is getting enough sleep, establishing a bedtime routine could be the answer.  A sample routine could include:

  1. Have a Snack – By having a snack before bed, this eliminates the child waking up saying they’re “hungry” during the night.
  2. Establish a Relaxing Activity – This could be reading books, playing quietly in their room, etc.  Do not turn the TV on – this is time for a quiet activity about 30 minutes before the bedtime routine.
  3. Take a Bath and Brush Teeth – Baths are typically relaxing and are great to include in the bedtime routine.  Brushing teeth is important to establish a good dental hygiene routine.
  4. Turn on Music – Pick some music that will be designated as their “sleep music.” This music is only played at bedtime or naptime. No other times are allowed. This music should be very quiet, soothing and sleepy.
  5. Read a Story – Make reading a part of your child’s bedtime routine.  Reading stories about going to bed are a great way to help with the transition.
  6. Put Child Into Bed – After reading books, put the child into THEIR bed.  It’s important to be consistent. The routine should be the same each night, so that your child learns the routine.
  7. Turn Off the Lights – Leave the room while your child is still awake and turn off the lights.  You may leave on a night light and the music to help soothe your child to sleep.

Routines are important and beneficial for all children.  By establishing a bedtime routine, your child will be able to sleep better, which will benefit them in other areas of their development.  Another benefit, if your child sleeps better – you will too!


Evidence for Bedtime Routines

Bedtime Routines and Single Parents

Bedtime Routines for Preschoolers