June, in Dubai, sees temperatures going up to 40°C and July and August seem like you’re living on the sun itself! We are fortunate enough to be able to spend most of our time indoors with air conditioning. The summer vacations will soon be here and sadly, we will be spending the entire 70-odd days of our summer vacations here in Dubai.
We are going to need a truckload of entertainment to keep an almost 5-year-old and a 2-year-old busy. Entertainment that is not screen-time and gadget related. Entertainment that can be constructive play, leading to brain development – development and exercise of both the right and left sides, i.e, creative and rational sides of the brain.
Below I list some fun and educational activities, we will be doing during our summer break (other than the play area visits, of course).
1. Puzzles galore!
Jigsaw puzzles are great for problem-solving and sequencing skills. We have collected loads of them, over the last couple of years. With all sorts of characters, cardboard, wooden and foam puzzles, tabletop and floor puzzles – you name it and we have it. From Mickey Mouse, McQueen and Chota Bheem, to animals, the alphabet, to a world map – we have them all. My 4 year old has loved solving them since he was 2.5 years old and my 2 year old is now starting to solve some simple wooden ones too. I recently bought him a puzzle Feather Fix from TicTacToe, which is aimed specifically at the age group of 2.5 to 3.5 years. He is slowly beginning to understand how to solve the puzzle by joining various parts to make a particular bird.
2. Memory Games
My elder son got introduced to memory games by his older cousin sister and her memory game. I have also ordered Memoristic, a fun memory game from TicTacToe. It is a new-age game with different levels of difficulty, depending on the number of players and their age and skill levels. As a child, I loved playing memory games with a stack of regular playing cards or UNO cards. It’s one of the easiest to create at home too. Here is a link for some memory game printables.
3. Spot-it or Dobble
” Spot it!, a.k.a. Dobble, is a simple pattern recognition game in which players try to find an image shown on two cards.
Each card in Spot it! features eight different symbols, with the symbols varying in size from one card to the next. Any two cards have exactly one symbol in common. For the basic Spot it! game, reveal one card, then another. Whoever spots the symbol in common on both cards claims the first card, then another card is revealed for players to search, and so on. Whoever has collected the most cards when the 55-card deck runs out wins!” (https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/63268/spot-it)
This game is excellent for building observational skills and fast reflexes. My elder son now plays the regular (ages 7 & up) version of the game, but there are other, easier versions of the game for younger age groups, too. Available at souq.com and other toy stores across UAE.
4. Activity Books
These can be fun to do and a good revision of what’s taught at school, so younger kids don’t forget all that was taught. From maths and counting ones, to alphabet, to puzzles like mazes, simple word searches, joining the dots, etc., we have worked on a few of them in the past. There is so much choice out there! We have ordered a few activity books from a local one-stop value shop for mums, Kidore.com and looking forward to cracking them soon.
We all know about the benefits of reading to young children, but still it is an activity I do not do as much with my children yet. I have recently put up book shelves in their room where their books are easily accessible to them to pull-out and browse themselves. I am hoping to do at least one story a day to start with during the summer break. I am looking at joining a library too, to make the reading journey even more fun. We normally do a lot of follow-up art & craft activities relating to our favorite stories too, like this Hot-Air balloon craft.
6. Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Books
These were a life-saver when my younger son was born. It was a gift from the new baby for his older brother, when he came to see him at the hospital! In those initial days, my older son spent hours making different scenes and scenarios, while I was busy feeding and changing diapers for the younger one. Each book has around 168 reusable stickers and 5 scenario sheets, relating to a particular theme. Children can create and re-create different scenarios and stories. We have the Habitats and Transport themed ones…perfect for little boys. These books are great for fine motor skills and imaginative play.
7. Art & Crafts
Our mom-son duo (me with my older son, while the younger one naps) loves to do everything arty. From creating puffy paint to coloring mandalas and making various themed crafts, we love it all.
Activities like coloring, painting, cutting, pasting, etc. are great fun for most kids and good for pencil grasp and motor skills. Additionally, it is good exercise for their creative minds. Do check the Getting Crafty section of this site and keep up with me on Instagram to see various crafts we will be creating over the summers.
8. Pretend play games
Games and toys like supermarket shopping, doctor sets, kitchen play sets, doll houses, construction equipment and even Lego and other blocks are great to expand their imaginations and creativity.
How are you planning to spend your summer? Here’s wishing you a great summer, wherever you are. Drop me a line below if any of these ideas help you and your children!
Please leave me a comment if you like these ideas and would like to see more ideas for young kids.