Summer has arrived at last! Here’s our guide to making the most of your family time this sunny season.
Write a summer bucket list
Why? These warm days and nights can be all too fleeting, and we don’t want to risk letting them pass us by before we make all of the sandcastles, eat all of the gelato and hit up all of our favourite festivals. So gather the family and write a list of your most treasured summer traditions and a few new adventures, too. From the simple stuff like going on a picnic to more ambitious things like taking a road trip or trying paddle boarding, the summer bucket list is your pact with each other to maximize the good times.
To the 2015 Pan Am Games Torch Relay on July 5 at the Toronto Zoo
Why? Because with a children’s craft area and Pan Am animal ambassadors like Bob the Sloth, your kids will love spending an extra special day at the zoo while getting into the spirit of the Games. Stick around for an autograph signing with World Juniors Hockey gold-medalist and torchbearer Max Domi.
A suitcase they’ll be proud to pull themselves
Why? Fun kiddie luggage may just make schlepping through departures, getting out the door to Grandma’s or packing for the cottage a little more enjoyable for all of you. We’re crushing on this adorable—and durable!—parrot-themed carry-on and matching backpack. We especially love how easy these are for little kids to pull themselves. The backpack stacks onto the handle of the suitcase—great for those times when your wee one doesn’t want to wear the backpack anymore.
The Bored Game
Why? It’s time to teach our kids to amuse themselves the way they could before they fell in love with their iPads, tablets and gaming systems. Follow the lead of this smart teacher in Edmonton who assembles simple kits containing common household items like elastics, dice, corks, a stack of paper cups, coloured toothpicks, or a handful of rocks, which his students use to make up simple games. Pull yours together in a shoebox or freezer bag to pack along for the campground, cottage or airport lounge. Or simply keep it at the ready for those summer afternoons when you hear ‘I’m bored.’
Parcelled with Love
Why? Because if you’ve got a kid going to sleepover camp this summer, you’re going to want to send a care package, and the clever moms behind this Canadian company have sourced all kinds of unique stuff we’d never think of ourselves. Choose from ready-made care packages in fun themes like the Little Rascals Pack (think whoopee cushion, an Archie comic, glow-in-the-dark glasses and more), or build your own with a variety of toys, creature comforts and novelty items. This is sure to make you popular with the whole cabin.
The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein
Why? This debut novel may just be the beach read of the year. Its deft prose and unique setting—an artist colony in Norway’s far north where the sun never sets—will have you turning pages to find out what comes from the chance meeting of two young travellers on very different missions.
Why? Because summer vacation is the perfect time for the whole family to learn how to meditate. This clever app has loads of kid appeal with its cool animations and ‘gamification’ approach to meditation—unlock the next animation by completing today’s 10-minute exercise and get bonus gifts for meditating several days in a row. The free 10-day ‘Take 10’ program may be enough to get the whole family in the habit. If you love it and find it’s cheaper than therapy, you can subscribe.
By recharging your devices using the power of the sun
Why? Not only will a solar-powered charger keep your phone charged for emergencies—or, let’s be honest, Instagram—when you’re camping or hiking this summer, it’ll reduce your carbon footprint, too. There’s no sunnier time of year for this clean-energy source, so tie one of these to your backpack or beach chair and you’ll be powered for hours.
Homemade ice cream
Why? You’ll feel very MacGyver-ish when you whip up a batch of homemade ice cream using just a plastic zip-top bag. Your kids will think it’s pure magic when they watch ice cream appear from such humble beginnings. It’s a rewarding—and delicious—way to pass the time on a hot afternoon.
The Daily Bread Food Bank feed people in need by engaging your kids in a mini food drive, gathering a wagon-load of non-perishables from the people on your block
Why? Because food banks get desperately low in summertime when they drop off the radar of donors who would normally give around Thanksgiving or Christmas. In fact, more than 900,000 Canadians go hungry at this time of year. Having the kids plan a route and pull their wagon around it collecting donations is a great way to teach them about giving back—and get in some bonus time spent outdoors.