Harvest on the Hudson

The Toolbox of Summer Fun

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| by Marcie Cuff |
Harvest-on-the-Hudson-(1)-PAGE-26During the summer months, the living should be easy, right? And so, every kid should be provided with a warm-weather plan—a summer toolbox filled with things to help him or her experiment with ideas about how things and people work. And, while it’s not always wise to provide wild, passionate little people with a supply of two-part epoxy, a 13-piece Allen wrench set and Teflon grease, it is important to provide easy access to age-appropriate gadgets for important creative projects, particularly during the summer months.  After kids reach the age when they stop eating glue sticks, creative toolbox supplies should be kept in kid-level spots. Kids need places to go and tinker with things alone—to work independently, responsibly and thoughtfully. These skills take practice. I’m quite certain that these skills are the foundations of creativity and perseverance—necessary elements of a competent adult, and some of the most challenging to master in a classroom setting. So, summer is the perfect time for these sorts of things. If our goal in life is to make the world a better place than it was when we found it, how better to do that than to grow and encourage self-sufficient competent kids?

Summer is the ideal time to explore under rocks and logs, make fairy houses out of natural objects, start backyard journals, design secret treasure maps and codes, and make tricky backyard scavenger hunts. Below is a list of other items to keep in your summer toolbox—things that are so transporting they’ll keep your offspring busy all summer long.

Cornstarch: Combine 3 parts cornstarch with 1 part water to make Oobleck, a fun non-Newtonian molasses-like suspension. This is a great rainy-day project that can keep small fingers busy for hours.

King-sized sheet: Make a tent, inside or outside. Fill the tent with pillows, stuffed animals and books, and send secret messages through the gaps.

Inoperable objects: Allow your kids to disassemble a broken wind-up toy, discarded doorknob, disabled rotary phone, or inoperable typewriter. Kids love finding out how things tick.

An outdoor digging spot: Set aside a spot outside just for your kids to get dirty. Keep it filled with a collection of shovels and tough earth-moving trucks.

An explorer’s kit: Turn even the smallest backyard into an exploratory adventure. Put together a kit filled with magnifying glasses, notebooks, pencils, canteens and trail mix.

Old-School Walkie Talkies: Give your kids a new way to communicate with each other. These two-way portable transceivers can turn any summer outing into a big adventure.

And so, fare thee well school lunch making!  See you in September! You will soon be replaced by long days crammed with crusty beach towel laundry topped with a pinch of sunscreen application whining.

Hurray! Hats off to summer!

Marcie Cuff lives in Irvington and is the author of the book “This Book Was a Tree”(Perigee Books). For more hands-on projects like this, look for her book at any bookstore, or visit her blog Mossy at http://mossymossy.com.

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