Although school has started or will soon start for many, Fall doesn’t officially begin until September 22. That still leaves plenty of time to get outside and enjoy some of summer’s simple pleasures.
Whistle with a blade of grass
This classic pastime is fun to do when sitting in the grass with friends or family, or even by yourself.
Find the widest blade of grass you can. It should also be long and relatively thick.
Hold your thumbs upright, so they face toward you and touch at the knuckles and tips.
Place the grass between your thumbs, holding it so that the piece of grass is taut and there is a little air on each side of it.
Purse your lips so that a small but strong bit of air comes out of their center and blow into the opening where the grass is.
Make a daisy chain
This is a charming activity to do while relaxing in a grassy meadow or field. If you’d like, make your chain into a necklace or crown.
• Small daisylike flowers (pick only from grassy fields where they are in profusion, as it may not be okay to pick flowers in some protected areas.)
• Pin (your fingernail will work as well)
Carefully prick a pin or fingernail into the daisy’s stem, approximately
1/3 of the way down from the flower.
Gently thread a second daisy stem through the hole, taking care not to break it. The second flower head now rests atop the first stem.
Continue to add daisies to the chain, until you have achieved a length you like. Attach the ends, if desired.
They’re called fireflies, lightening bugs, glowworms, and moon bugs. They wink at us with their intermittent glow in darkening skies on humid nights. For many, seeing and catching them is the ultimate summer nature experience.
• Clear, lidded jar, with a few holes punched into the lid, using a hammer and nail— if you don’t have a lid, use plastic wrap, punched with small holes and secured with a rubber band
• Leaves or a moistened paper towel, placed at the bottom of the jar
Find a humid environment— the best are fields or forests with bodies of water nearby, although fireflies are also found in parks and backyards. Though fireflies live all over the world, they are rare in the western United States.
Turn off all surrounding lights, if possible. Let your eyes adjust to the dark.
If you don’t see fireflies, turn a flashlight on and off in a flashing motion to attract one.
When you spot a firefly, place the net over it and gently transfer it into the jar.
You may be able to catch it right in the jar. Fireflies are not dangerous to touch, but be careful not to crush them.
Keep your fireflies for a short time, releasing them again the same or the next night, to ensure their survival.
Skip a stone
Learning to skip stones takes a lot of practice and perseverance, but it’s an impressive skill once you master it.
Find a calm body of water.
Find a smooth, flat, lightweight stone. The flatness will allow it to skip; the lightness will allow it to be tossed a long way.
Balance near the water and fling the stone with the wrist, as you would a Frisbee.
Try to have the stone enter the water at a 20° angle. If the angle is smaller, the stone will bounce but lose energy. If the angle is bigger, the stone will sink.
Play tag in a park
There are so many fun tag games, you needn’t limit yourself to basic tag. Try this fun variation:
Once a player is tagged by the person who is “it,” the two join arms and become a blob, which chases players together to try to tag them. Other players who are tagged also join arms and become part of the blob. Some play a version in which, when the blob reaches four people, two split off to become a new blob. The last person standing alone becomes the new “it.”
Camp in your backyard
Camping out in sleeping bags is fun any time of year— in a backyard, on a porch or balcony, even on the living-room floor. Wherever you roll out the sleeping bags, enjoy some traditional camp activities:
Sing traditional or silly campfire songs like Go Bananas, She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain, Boom Chicka Boom, and Rose Rose.
Make shadow puppets by shining a flashlight onto a tent or house wall. Hold your hands between the light and the wall in various shapes like these:
Rabbit— Make a fist with one hand. Place the other palm
over it and make a peace sign (for ears) with two fingers.
Hawk— Link your thumbs together, with your hands facing
away from you. Stretch out your fingers and hands and flutter
them like wings.
Make s’mores, banana boats, hobo popcorn and other classic camp treats.
Gaze at the Stars
With its possibilities for clear skies and warm nights, summer often offers the best opportunities to get out and gaze at the stars. Begin to get to know the night sky by locating a few key constellations, like the Big Dipper (visible over much of the Northern Hemisphere in summer) and orienting toward those. The Big Dipper appears like a ladle (bowl) and handle. To find the North Star (Polaris), extend an imaginary line up from the top corner of the ladle that is furthest from the handle. Polaris is in turn on the handle of the Little Dipper, which appears upside down and facing the opposite direction from the Big Dipper. (In the Southern Hemisphere, orient to the Southern Cross.) If possible, buy a portable star chart or get acquainted with the major constellations in your area and season. Consult your chart to find other stars and constellations, based on the ones you’ve already found.
Make summer fruit jam
Head to a farm, backyard or market while summer fruit is at its ripest, and pick your favorite peaches, apricots, plums, figs or berries and then make them into jam. If you’ve never tried canning, you may discover a terrific new hobby as you make family memories and lovely jars of jewel-colored jam that you’ll be able to give as gifts or open in the depths of midwinter to remind you of sunny summer.
These activities and more can be found in Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World.
Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Public Domain