>> Jun 11, 2013
Summer usually means more time together with your family than it does during the school year. Just because you are in the same room, though, doesn’t mean you’re interacting. With modern gadgets and gizmos, too many families gather for hours in front of TVs, computers and video games for their family time.
Sure, "Adventure Time" gives your whole brood the giggles and Break.com pics are funny, but embarking on a summer project gives your family a chance to turn off the devices and really reconnect. This summer, instead of staring at screens side-by-side, increase the eye contact of your family with these face-to-face projects:
Crafting company Fiskars offers up the idea of “memory jars” as vacation souvenirs. Take a jar, fill it with dirt, sand, gravel or any adequate base material and start adding mementos from your trip. In her beach jar, for instance, designer Patti Milazzo used a sand base to hold shells found on her family’s trip to Sanibel Island and added photos and themed accessories to create a one-of-a-kind memory.
Your family doesn’t need to travel far to create a memory jar, though. In fact, there is no project more worthy of an entire summer’s devotion. Instead of making a vacation-specific jar, make an all-summer memory jar. When you go to the beach, the zoo, the amusement park, or arcade, collect small items from each visit. Toward the end of summer, combine the entire collection into a single artistic jar, and you’ll end up with a summer time capsule.
When you are looking for a family project that also teaches your kids useful life skills, hit the back yard. A family garden not only saves you some cash on fresh fruit and veggies during the summer months, but provides your entire lot with fresh air and sunshine, which, in this age of Vitamin D deficiency, they most certainly need.
Getting the kids involved with gardening may not be as difficult as you think. Split the gardening chores up, so the kids get to do those that are most fun for them, like digging in the dirt or watering.
Or, start your seeds indoors before the planting season. Save up milk or soda cartons, cut them in half and put some holes in the bottom for drainage. Plant your seeds in potting soil in the containers, water until the soil is moist and cover with plastic wrap. The seedlings will sprout indoors, and you can transfer them to the garden.
Found-Object and Recycled Art
If you’re like most families, you produce your share of trash. Summer is a great time to turn some of that “useless” waste into toys or works of art. Turn used 20-ounce soda bottles and a stick into a mobile. Turn used 2-liter bottles into ant farms. Save the caps off your family’s two favorite bottled drinks and make a checkerboard with bottle cap pieces. “Found object” arts and crafts is a great way to teach your kids that almost anything has more than one use.
There's nothing wrong with crashing in front of the TV for a while with the kids, teaching them who’s boss in video games, or catching up on all the latest viral videos. Take some time away from the technology, though, and catch up on your family. Even if they struggle as you drag them away from the computer and weep over the hidden TV remote, your family will enjoy their time free of technology once you get them crafting.