Summer break will start in the next few weeks. Some parents have already rushed to sign up their children for activities, everything from summer school and sports, to drama, gymnastics, aquatics, and summer fun.
But don’t be in such a hurry to plan extracurricular activities for your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews – there’s a lot that you can do at home.
I like projects that combine creativity and family time. You don’t have to be crafty or come up with elaborate projects, but there are things we can do to get the kids interested and make family-time interesting.
Here are 5 fun and creative summer projects to help keep memories and traditions alive:
1. Create a time capsule. Invite people to write letters, photographs, and small souvenirs or mementos. You can host a time capsule party with friends and clubs, or just keep it in the family. You don’t have to bury it or even use a fancy container. Just choose a water-tight capsule that you can seal with hot glue or epoxy and find a safe place for it. Decide when you will open the time capsule, whether it’s five years, ten years, or longer. I’ve put together two time capsules in my life, both of them still unopened and waiting to be rediscovered.
2. Start a family recipe book. Make a list of all the special dishes that your family loves – even the ones that seem ordinary or that you don’t make yourself. Take photos of each dish, and include notes about brands, substitutions, and variations. Write down the history of the food and any memories you have of family get-togethers or special occasions. My grandfather used to make Korean mandoo every new year, and now my dad has taken over the tradition with different ingredients.
3. Ask elders to tell you stories. Listen to their stories about when they were young and the people, places, and events they remember. Audio or video recordings are a great way to capture their personalities and emotions. Scan older photographs or negatives so that you don’t have to worry about the originals getting lost or damaged. I cherish my grandmother’s reminiscences and every now and then just listen to her voice.
4. Write a letter to your future self. Write down what is important to you now, what you hope to accomplish, what you expect your life to be like, and any reminders (or admonishments) you think are important. You may feel self-conscious, but it’s worth it. I don’t have any letters that I wrote to myself from when I was a child, but I wish I did!
5. Write a story with a child. Use your imaginations to create a fairy tale, adventure story, or mystery. Work together to come up with the characters, setting, and plot. Decide whether you will illustrate the story with photographs, drawings, or paintings. I suggest planning for 20 8”x8” pages (including a title page), if you want to get a professional photobook printed. If writing fiction intimidates you, try writing a joke book or a comic book, or put together a school or vacation scrapbook. If you want to go digital, make a short movie or “funniest videos” montage. Let your imagination and sense of humor take over! When my son was 5 years old, I wrote a rhyming book for him, and even created a counting poster by duplicating his photos.
This summer, I told my son that we’ll write a book together, with words and pictures (or photos). What will you do with your family this summer? Please share your projects with us!