There's no incentive like a hot day to turn your livingroom or garden into a blanket fort. We here at Spellbound have a well-documented love of blanket forts, and this classic creative play activity is a great chance for kids (and adults) of any age to stretch their imagination. For babies, forts can be a great time to talk about spacial concepts like "up," "down," "in," and "out." For toddlers and preschoolers, you can make suggestions about different places they might be: a castle, a cave, a ship. For elementary kids, this is a chance to write a full-length drama with characters, subplots, and intrigue. There is no end to the fun that can be provided with some blankets, tables, and pillows.
The Avant Garde
If it's too hot for clothes, get your child nude and pop them in the tub with a watercolor set and a selection of brushes. Don't turn the water on, just run enough to get the colors in the watercolors nice and rich, and then go to town! Babies love to explore different parts of their bodies by painting (or having you paint) their toes, their belly, their nose. Toddlers who are steady on their feet can stand and paint the walls. As they get older, you can encourage your child to paint a representative picture, or even to tell a story through a mural. The great thing about this activity is that it is very satisfyingly messy, but the only thing you need to do to clean up is pull the curtain and turn on the shower.
The Graffiti Artist
If you have a shady spot available on a nearby sidewalk, bring out some sidewalk chalk and a bucket of ice. You can use the ice to "draw" on the sidewalk and then watch it evaporate in the heat. For preschoolers with great motor skills, bring brushes and some plain water and they can write or draw with the water using the brushes. This is a great opportunity to mix media and see how the ice and chalk interact together, but it also is a great opening for a arts integrated science lesson about ice, water, and evaporation.
The Performance Artist
Turn off the lights, grab a flashlight, and see what kind of shadows you can make on the walls or a curtain. You can use body shapes, objects, or even build a shadow puppet. Take your child on a hunt through the house to find different materials such as paper, fabric, and plastic and experiment with which ones are opaque and which are semi-transparent. You can also play around with size and shape by changing the distance between the flashlight, the object, and the wall. What makes an object bigger? More focused? Can you make an object's shadow look like something other than what it really is?
Stay cool during this heatwave, friends! And please share any other ideas you have for low-key creative play!