Geeky Parent Guide: Arts and Crafts to Beat the Heat

When the summer temperatures near the 100 F mark or higher, sometimes, it’s the perfect opportunity to get back to the basics when it comes to family fun. I want to share with you what my family did on a couple of days scattered over the course of a few weeks, and how we let creativity defeat the heat. Our kids love playing outside, but when the temps are that high, we try to avoid sustained play, if any at all.

One of the benefits of doing art, specifically as a parent, is that it makes me realize how often we don’t sit down with the kids and do any kind of craft. At least it feels few and far between, so these fun art activities really allowed us to sit, smile, and share some quality time together. Also, it does help me from feeling like an old man from chasing the kids outside all day. Ah, I’d laugh if it wouldn’t make my knees and back hurt. *Silently weeps*


                             

Drawing Together, Highlighting Our Unique Takes

I decided to have my kids, my wife Meghan, and I sit down at our dining table, along with paper, crayons, colored pencils, and markers. Now, although my kids did not choose to use markers, I do recommend using some kind of cutting board or tray underneath the paper so the marker doesn’t soak through the paper and leave marks on the table.

For this particular activity, I had everyone think of something they wanted to draw, and then we all would do each person’s design one at a time. My son Marshall started first and he wanted everyone to draw a teddy bear. Let me tell you something, my little guy LOVES his “stuffies,” and he has a massive blue teddy bear that he adores. And he’s also sad at the prospect of not taking his bear with us next summer when we travel abroad (if that’s possible, which is dependent on the pandemic, travel restrictions, and the kids getting vaccinated; which they will be as soon as possible).

Now, each of us started drawing at the same time. Some finished quicker than others, and I’m not going to lie: I was totally the slow goer during every single drawing. I intentionally took my time, because that’s my official excuse, but it also helped the kids learn patience. Since they have been homeschooled this past year, and the coming year, as well, I wanted them to understand that everyone goes at their own pace. So, when they do make it back into the classroom, they’ll be used to some activities continuing longer even if they’re finished. This will help them be ready for such scenarios, and, hopefully, it’ll help when we travel too. If we stop somewhere to take pictures or stop for a snack, I’m hoping activities like this will let them appreciate that it’s okay to slow down or accept that some people are just slower – like their dear old dad.

My daughter Adelaide chose to go last, so we then had to decide who would go next. So, Marshall and Adelaide played rock-paper-scissors; Meghan goes next if Adelaide (paper) wins, and I go next if Marshall (rock) wins. This is a fun way to help make quick decisions! Also, it’s really great to have Meghan’s point of view as a teacher, because she has a bevy of ideas for crafting, especially teaching Pre-K.


                             

Instructional Art from a Pre-K Teacher

Meghan created her design first, and then gave the three of us instructions on what to draw. The fun part about this was that those directions had flexibility within them, so each person’s drawing would end up slightly different. This was a lot of fun – and it went so well that Adelaide wanted to go next and try her hand at the very same instructional activity. This worked out wonderfully, because Adelaide had to learn how to give verbal instructions only, because she kept wanting to show us when she couldn’t articulate it a certain way. This was great, because we told her we weren’t in a rush and to just do her best. If you want to try this at home, which I highly recommend, here are the instructions from Meghan’s, and then you can recreate or create your own.

Step 1: Draw a half an oval on the center of the page (like an upside-down letter U)
Step 2: Connect the two points of the oval with a semi-squiggly line (which in my opinion made it look like a ghost from Pac-Man)
Step 3: Draw 8 legs at the base of the oval
Step 4: Draw two circles with a dot within each circle anywhere in the semi-oval shape
Step 5: Underneath those two circles, draw a half a circle (like a smile)
Step 6: Draw a big wavy line toward the top of the page (making it an underwater picture)
Step 7: Draw a straight line toward the bottom of the page, with a bunch of dots all over (indicating the bottom floor of a body of water)
Step 8: Draw a sideways oval anywhere on the page
Step 9: Attach a triangle with the point connecting to one end of this new oval
Step 10: Add eyes and a mouth to this new design (making a fish, but she didn’t say which side would get the face)
Step 11: Repeat steps 7, 8, and 9 to make three more fish
Step 12: Color your drawing


Again, this is a fantastic exercise to do with the entire family. Yes, I chose to make my sea creatures look a little unique, or “mutated” as Meghan called them, but it was a lot of fun. The kids would stop occasionally to look at each person’s drawing or they would say, “Don’t look,” until they were finished.

Adelaide chose to do the same activity, and we all created a unicorn with a rainbow. These activities really help me appreciate that my kids are just that – kids! They love to have fun and through everything, especially this past year and a half, it’s easy to forget that they are kids. They’re so mature and they have this intense burden of being somewhat isolated as we try to keep them safe until they can be vaccinated.


                             

Halloween During Summer – Sure!

They love being silly and have fun, and doing arts and crafts is a great way to see them do just that. I had planned on having our kids do something creative on their own to coincide with this art project, but they beat me to the punch by about a week and a half. One day, when it was too hot outside for any kind of lengthy play, they asked if they could draw. They also said they wanted to have a Halloween day.

What was I supposed to say? Of course, I said, “Go for it!” Seriously, what is a parent supposed to do when their kids have a fun idea that they want to run with all on their own? I love their creativity and the fact that they wanted to do every last bit of it on their own.

Okay, full disclosure: I did help them hang some of the decorations – and, yes, those decorations are still hanging as we speak. They drew spiders, bats, and yes, a puppy dog, because why not. My son also created his very own witch by cutting sections of paper to size and putting it all together. It’s impressive and I loved their enthusiasm for creating Halloween in the dead heat of summer.

On each of these two days of activities, one with each of us drawing each other’s designs and the Halloween day, at least 3 hours was spent on each activity. Sometimes, it’s easy for kids to move from one thing to the next, as it is easy to get bored with things from time to time, so it was a lot of fun to see them excited, which is a reason I love being involved in activities like this. Yes, they love me chasing them around, playing freeze tag, but this kind of activity really lets me see how creative they are and how much fun they have when they stop and think about what they want to create.


                             

So, the next chance you get, have your kids pick a design and then have at it. You will not be disappointed. In fact, you might enjoy having some time to decompress while your kids smile and talk about their designs. Oh, I chose everyone to do a superhero, because I’m a geek. Also, something that helps the environment is to play some music. We had the Dave Matthews station playing on Pandora, so we had everything from the likes of Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, and more, and it was a very enjoyable day.

Do you and your kids have art time often? What kinds of characters have you created or what would you want to draw? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Don’t forget that you can also share any pictures with us on Facebook or Twitter, we’d love to see them! If you like this kind of content and want to see more crafting on the Geeky Parent Guide, like this article and share with all of your geeky friends.

Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.




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