Category Archives: Play

On Ideas for Summer Family Fun

In the northern hemisphere, it’s summer time! For many families, this means a break from our usual school year schedule. We want to provide our children with plenty of time to regroup and rest after the intensity of their studies, because they have worked very hard. We want them to learn to have some unstructured time – and perhaps even a little taste of boredom – to give them the opportunity to invent and play their own games. But we also want them to continue learning, although perhaps in a different way than they are learning during the school year. And in the midst of all of of that, we want to make fun memories together as a family.

To these ends, here is a small gathering of fun activities, learning opportunities, and ways to make this summer a little more fun. Try one or all of them, if you are so inclined! Tuck your favorite ideas into your back pocket if you’ve already got a good handle on your summer. It could be that one or more of them will come in handy at the last minute!

Regardless of how we spend the summer, may we enjoy the change in schedule and savor the additional time to be together!

Summer is already partly spent, so you may already have a routine that works for your family. But if not, or if you want to switch things up a bit, here’s a clever way to do something fun together each day of the week during summer vacation:


Need ideas for preschoolers? How about some of these?


This page offers 30 educational, creative, and budget-friendly (not to mention fun) ideas of summer-y things to do with kids!


Got water balloons? Here’s a post that offers a pile of ways to use them (besides the usual!):


Hot day? No problem, if you have a few squirt guns and a couple of recycled plastic cups!


If your summer is hotter than usual, this may help: here are 25 water games to play with kids!


Here are a fun list of unplugged activities for tweens!


Want to actually enjoy crafting with your kids? Check out these awesome ideas:


This article lists 100 (!) inexpensive ideas to do with kids during the summer:


Here are some ideas of ways to help your children learn more from the Scriptures this summer! Although the blogger is not Orthodox, many of these ideas can be used to help Orthodox kids (and parents) grow together in the Faith!

When everyone just needs to go outside for a while, consider one of these fun activities:


Road trips with lego fans just got a lot more fun! Check out these suggested ideas that can be pulled together quickly before your trip:


Here’s a great list of fun summer activities for teens:



On Winter Fun and Learning

It is winter in the northern hemisphere. At least for some of us, that means it is very cold outside! In an effort to lift our chilled spirits, we have done some research and found a few websites that we hope will be helpful to the community. Keep reading to find some links that offer ideas for winter fun with the family and others that will help us to learn more about snowy weather. We also are including a few ideas of ways that snow can challenge us spiritually (beyond the inevitable plea, “Lord, help me survive being cooped up with all of these family members!”). May this winter be a memorable one, as we parents embrace the season and help our family to enjoy our time together; to continue to learn about the world in which we live; and to further our growth in the Kingdom of Heaven!


Opportunities for winter learning: Learn how snowflakes form. With younger children, watch With older children, watch


Opportunities for winter learning: There are so many winter/snow/ice-related science experiments at these websites! Pick one or more and explore it together! (Many of these do not require actual snow.) (These require snow.) (200 winter science activities for those of us whose children really love science!)


Opportunities for winter learning: Inflate a plastic zipper bag “snowman face” using only snow/finely chopped ice and alka seltzer tablets! offers directions, and also explains why it inflates, so you can guide the discussion of “why does it do that?”


Opportunities for winter learning: looking for wintry books to read together? (As always, we recommend that you read these before sharing them with your children, so that you can screen them according to what will be helpful to your family.)

Here are some snow-themed picture books:

Here you’ll find a few wintry chapter book suggestions:


Opportunities for winter games: these sites offer ideas of snowy games to play outdoors:


Opportunities for winter games: If the weather is too cold or there’s too much precipitation to play outside, consider trying one (or five) of these fun indoor activities.


Opportunities for winter games: Create your own indoor snowballs to use for snowball fights or other indoor snowball games.
Wads of white tissue paper make great indoor “snowballs.”

Grab fuzzy white yarn, golf practice balls, and a crochet hook to wrap some realistic “snowballs.” (see

Create pompom “snowballs” from thick white yarn:

Once you have a stash of indoor snowballs, use them to play some fun games. Here are a few suggestions:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Find a huge variety here:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Create your own squishable, buildable “snow” to play with indoors:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: If you don’t have snow, or just want to decorate with a snowy flair, here are templates for pretty paper snowflakes cut from folded paper:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Create some sock snowmen for decoration or for play:

Or build this ping-pong-ball “snowman” that doubles as a nightlight:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Remember “pet rocks?” Here’s a wintry take on that: create your own “pet snowball” as suggested here:


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Finger paint some snowmen using your thumb and a smaller finger. When the paint is dry, draw on the facial features, stick arms, hats, etc. Challenge your family with these questions: How many of funny snowmen can you create? 


Opportunities for winter arts/crafts: Invite friends over for a snowman party just for fun, using some of the food and craft ideas here:


Opportunities for wintertime faith-expansion:

This blogger invites parents to make a snowflake cross to remind them to find Christ in the midst of the “snow storms” of life, especially in the context of parenting!


Opportunities for wintertime faith-expansion: If wintertime gets you down, ponder these words from St. Ambrose of Optina: “In nature we see that there are not always pleasant springs and fruitful summers, and sometimes autumn is rainy and winter cold and snowy, and there is flooding and wind and storms, and moreover the crops fail and there are famine, troubles, sicknesses and many other misfortunes. All of this is beneficial so that man might learn through prudence, patience and humility. For the most part, in times of plenty he forgets himself, but in times of various sorrows he becomes more attentive to his salvation.” Choose to allow the wintry struggles to remind your soul to be more attentive.


Opportunities for wintertime faith-expansion: Talk together as a family about this verse: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). How white IS snow? Most often, it appears to be super white, especially when the sun shines on it. However, in reality, the snow consists of translucent ice crystals, all reflecting the light. Since they reflect all of the light (every color in the light spectrum), they appear to be white. If we live lives of repentance and virtue, as Christians should, our hearts will be clean and our consciences clear. Then we will reflect the Light of Christ, radiating His purity to all. (Read the science behind snow’s “whiteness” here: Talk together about how to live in such a way that Christ can be reflected more fully in your family’s life.


On Traveling with Children

Author’s note: Both of my children left home to travel on the day this was written. They are visiting different parts of the world (one went to Brussels, the other to Boston). They are both now old enough to plan their own trips and do their own packing. However, it was not too long ago when I was both family packer and entertainment provider. This post is for those of us still in that position. Enjoy this season of family travel: another season will be headed your way before you know it!

Traveling with children is a joy. Children help us to take our travels at a more relaxed pace, to rest more often (especially in their younger, “still napping” years), and they help us to not overbook our vacation adventures. Their wonder at the discoveries made along the way is an added bonus. The love for life and adventure that our children bring to our lives is even more noticeable on trips, probably because we are not “working” and thus have more time to notice and savor it (and them)!

That said, traveling with children offers us a different kind of work. It requires us to be on our a-game even more than usual. We need to be well prepared even before we begin the trip, thinking of all that the family will need to wear/eat/do, so that we can better enjoy all the joys mentioned above.. While traveling, we often need to think fast and/or be able to improvise if there are events or needs we did not prepare for before leaving on the trip.

In the event that you are preparing to travel with children, we have compiled a collection of links of ideas that can help you to be prepared as you travel. We hope that some of these will be useful to you, whether now or in years to come. When you travel again, may you have safe travels! May God bless your family’s time together and fill your travels with happy memories!

This travel prayer is a great place to start:
Lord Jesus,

You who are the Way, the Truth, and the Life;

You who travelled with Your servant Joseph;

You who accompanied Your two disciples on the road to Emmaus and set their hearts aflame with the warmth of your love;

Travel with (us) also and bless (our) journey.

Warm and gladden (our) hearts with the nearness of Your Presence.
Surround (us) with Your holy angels to keep (us) safe.

Deliver and protect (us) from all danger, misfortune and temptation.

Keep (us) in the center of Your love and obedient to Your will.

Journey always with (us) in (our) greater journey as pilgrims on earth on (our) way home to You.

Help (us) return home again in peace, health, and good will that (we) may praise and glorify Your exalted Name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all the days of (our) life.


Here are some travel ideas that we found. What ideas do you have? Please comment and share them with the community!


Taking a road trip? Orthodox Mom has you covered, with printable activity page links, good behavior ideas, even links to snack recipes that travel well! Check it out for one sweet road trip:


Are you anticipating any long travel days? This mom offers suggestions for an activity binder that uses plastic sleeves and dry-erase markers so the activities can be done over and over. We especially liked the photocopied face pictures that can be “doodled on,” then erased and redrawn! Check out the suggestions for a long car (or plane, or boat) trip here:


The 20 ideas and links found in this blog post are geared for airplane travel, but most of them would work in the car/train/boat/bus as well. We especially liked the velcro craft stick idea and the rainbow rice “I Spy” bottle:


Traveling with a toddler? Here are a bunch of ideas you may want to consider. Perhaps some of them would work for you and your toddler(s):


One mom’s ideas have been turned into (free!) printable pages that you can find at the bottom of this blog:


Find ideas for puzzles and games to make ahead of time, craft-type learning activity kits to assemble, a pizza box “town” suggestion, and fun (free!) printables for games for your family to play as you take a car trip together here:


Find suggestions for things to put in each of your children’s parent-assembled travel kits here:


Find printable scavenger hunt lists (for varied ages) for road trips here:


Need more ideas for travel binders? Check these out:


Want some help organizing your road trip? This is amazingly well thought through:

Back Pocket Ideas for Summer Fun Activities

Over the course of summer break, it is quite possible that our children will come to us parents and proclaim their boredom. In my opinion, boredom is a good thing, for much creativity results when children are offered the opportunity to concoct their own adventures rather than having activities and expectations continually thrust at them. When my own children were younger, if they came to me and said, “I’m bored!” I would often reply, “Oh, okay! That is your choice! There are plenty of options of things that you can choose to do instead. Take your pick of them – or be bored! It’s up to you!” They would usually go find something to do. (Now that they’re young adults, we sometimes talk about the glories of boredom: how wonderful it is to have a moment where you do not have so many responsibilities pressing on you that you can actually be bored for a bit! How times and perspectives change!) So, boredom is a choice, and it is not a bad thing for our children to have it as an option.
That said, it is always a good idea for adults to have a backup plan in place when they are responsible for children. While it is okay for our kids to feel bored, and it is vital that they learn how to come up with their own ideas of things to do, occasionally there may be a time when our kids really do need ideas and guidance! This blog post will offer you, the parent, some backup plans to “keep in your back pocket” for such a time as that. (Unless you have a fantastic memory, we recommend that you may want to read through each of the ideas we offer and jot notes about a few favorites on a 3×5 card. You can literally keep it in your back pocket for when you need ideas!)

Here are a few “back pocket” ideas that we found (in the order in which we found them). What ideas do you have to share with the community?


For children who love (or need to learn more about) science, here are links to 30 different experiments best performed in the summer heat:


Find a list of 40 ideas of things children can do with water (and an ad for a toy makes the 41st idea) here:


Create some sand play dough to manipulate and to decorate with those shells, stones, and sea glass pieces you have collected. Find the recipe here:


Find the rules for outdoor play games, for when you need inspiration for family game nights, here:


Find 18 super-cool experiments to perform together, here:


This list of 50 fun things to do in summertime may already be in your family’s plans! Check it out if you need an idea of something fun to do together:


Help these two young ladies in their mission to make the world a more positive place, one cleverly hidden decorated rock at a time! This summer, Zoey and Carrington’s goal is to have rocks placed in as many of the 50 states as possible, in the name of Rock Our World Studio. Can you help them with their 50 State Summer Challenge 2017? To learn more, visit:


And last but not least, a list of projects for parents who need something to do! (Yes, the children will benefit from the results of these, but adults will need to do most of the DIYing.):


Go Out and Play! Ideas for Summertime Outdoor Fun

It is almost summertime! Families with school-aged children enjoy taking a break from the school routine. However, sometimes even just thinking about summertime feels overwhelming for parents. If you can relate to that, don’t worry! We are here to help! Here are some fun ideas we found that may help you and your children to get outside and enjoy the summer together! We will highlight a few favorites on the links that offer multiple ideas.

When you have a few minutes, visit these sites and scroll through their offerings. Make a list of ideas you like or copy/paste the links into a document for future reference. Or, make a “Summer Fun” jar. To do so, cut strips of paper before you begin looking at all the ideas below. As you look through all these great ideas, take a moment to write each activity that you like on its own strip of paper. When the strip has an idea on it, fold it up and put it in a jar marked “Summer Fun.” When you or your kids need a idea for something to do during the summer, pull out one strip and there you go! (Visit!) for more ideas of ways to present these ideas to your family.)
Here are a few great idea-finding spots:

Find 50 links for fun activities for both outdoors and inside at this webpage: Some favorite ideas found here include directions for making a summer reading teepee, building your own kiddie car wash for bikes (or just kids!), making your own ladder golf game, and ice excavating.

This page lists inexpensive ideas for summer fun: Favorites include directions for a pool noodle sprinkler, kickball croquet, backyard (or beach) Olympics, busy bag ideas for indoor days, and a shower-curtain-liner giant dry-erase sheet!

Whether or not you have a boy, check out the fantastic ideas on this page:! We especially liked the clothespin catapults, the mini ice boats, and the printable playground scavenger hunt (for visiting new playgrounds)!

Many simple ideas for entertaining children are found at this page: Our blogger remembers “painting” the sidewalk (and the house!) with water when she was a kid – so simple, but it was fun to do! The soap boats are also a clever idea, and kids would have a blast with the pool noodle “water wall,” among other great ideas.

Although this blog was written by a teacher for the last day of school, it contains a variety of fun indoor activities/challenges that kids would enjoy doing at home, as well.

Here are a bunch of clever outdoor game ideas: We especially liked the splash-the-ping-pong-balls-off-of-the-golf-tees challenge, the put-on-a-frozen-tshirt race, the squirt-gun powered matchbox car racing, and the car-wash-sponge-on-a-paint-stick balloon boppers. What fun!

Find directions to create an obstacle course featuring pool noodles for your backyard, here:

For particularly curious and/or science minded kids, offers ideas from creating a marble run (to learn laws of physics) to building a paper bridge (and testing its strength with penny weights) to experimenting with the chemistry that happens in your kitchen!

Find a pile of minute-to-win-it challenges for people of a variety of ages to try, at

Hot day? Need some fun ways to cool off with a group of children? Check out these watery games! Ideas include using water balloons instead of balls to toss around on a parachute (or a sheet) and playing “Dry, Dry, Wet” (“Duck, Duck, Goose” with a wet sponge). Find

more really fun water games (ie batting practice with water balloons) here:!

Plan an outdoor movie night a la Invite the neighbor kids or JOY Club, and have a fun evening together!

Challenge your family to see how many of these 50 “old fashioned” games you can play over the course of the summer! The rules are right here for hopscotch, Red Rover, I Spy, HORSE, and so many more!!!

Still need ideas? Check out,, or!

Note: in case you missed it, here’s another post we once offered, featuring more ideas of things to do with your children in the summertime:


Here are a few specific activities that sound like fun:

Make sponge “balls,” moisten them, and have a throwing-and-soaking party!

Cut a slice of a pool noodle, cap one end with a balloon, and end up with a pom-pom shooter!!! Great for outdoors OR inside!

Have a family game night with candy “medal” prizes:

Make a yard-sized Yahtzee game with a bucket full of super cool (and supersized!) wooden dice as per these instructions, then play the game on a giant scale in your backyard:

Print copies of this photo-based outdoor scavenger hunt, gather several groups of children, and send them out to see what they can spot!

Make paper rockets with straws:

Should you be stuck with some rainy days this summer, check out these web sites to keep them learning  and having fun:


Dressed Like a Saint

It is that time of the year in the United States when many children and adults dress up as someone else and go out. This year, if our children plan to dress up as someone  else, let us encourage them to consider dressing in a way that reminds them (and others) of someone whose life was pleasing to God. They can dress up as a saint!

The first task to this end will be to help our children think of a saint whose life they admire; someone they want to emulate. Perhaps they would like to dress as their patron saint; a Bible saint; or another saint whose life somehow stands out to them. This may be a quick and easy process, or it may take some research, but it is important that each child selects a saint that is somehow significant to them.

Once they have selected a saint, it is our job to help our child learn about the saint they have selected. We can check websites such as, where there’s a daily listing of lives of the saints commemorated for that date. We could also listen to the lives of the saints together at Or we can read from books such as A Child’s Paradise of Saints, by Nun Nectaria McLees. As we learn about the saint together, we need to think of ideas of how to help others know more about this saint.

The final challenge is to figure out a way to make a costume that makes our child look like the saint who they have chosen. Many times, a simple costume made with a sheet or bathrobe, towels, and belt(s) will do the trick. Finding a prop or two (a cross? a wheel? a platter?) for the child to carry will add to the final effect. (The icon of the saint can often offer ideas of something for them to hold. The story of the saint’s life can do the same.) The costume does not have to be elaborate to be effective.

In the end, this costuming option offers a win-win situation for us as parents. We spend quality time with our children, helping them learn about the faith, as we work together to learn about the different saints they are considering. We help our children to dress as someone wholesome; emulating someone that we indeed want them to grow up to be like. And, last, but not least, we help our children to have fun while helping their peers learn more about the saints, too! (And if our church should happen to have a Saints Festival, our children will already have their costume planned!)

Holy Saints, please intercede for us and for our children, that we will follow Christ faithfully as you did and that we will live all of our lives (even our costuming choices) in a way that is pleasing to Him. Please pray also for our salvation. Amen.

Note: These printable story/activity books about saints can be an excellent starting place in the process of finding a saint your child would like to dress as/pretend to be. There are 12 in each of the three activity books, and each saint’s story is told in an easy to read format. There are also activity pages included for each saint.

Following are a few sample suggestions of costuming ideas:

Saint costuming idea #1: Listen to a podcast (or read the transcript) about Sts. Justina and Cyprian. The story of these saints can inspire children who want to be brave in the midst of frightening surroundings. The podcast can be found at Either saint would be a good one for a child to study, dress as, and ask for their intercessions.

Saint costuming idea #2: St. Seraphim of Sarov was an ascetic who lived in the wilderness. Wild animals loved him and would come regularly to his hut to be with him. Read more at A child dressing as St. Seraphim would want to bring along many stuffed forest animals such as a bear, a rabbit, a wolf, a fox, etc.

Saint costuming idea #3: St. Catherine the Great Martyr was the daughter of a ruler in Alexandria. She was beautiful and wise, and wanted to marry someone at her level of beauty and wisdom. When she learned of Christ, she dedicated her life to loving and serving Him. She was martyred for her faith. Read more about her at . A girl who wants to dress up as St. Catherine could wear a fancy dress and jewelry (especially a ring), and could carry a cross (for martyrdom) or a wheel (an instrument of torture used against St. Catherine).

Saint costuming idea #4: St. Andrei Rublev was an iconographer who wrote many beautiful icons. One of them that is very well remembered is the icon of the holy trinity. Read more at A child dressing as St. Andrei Rublev could carry a paintbrush and paint, and perhaps the icon of the Holy Trinity, as well. (If you don’t have a copy of this icon, you can find a printable pdf of it on the first page of this bulletin: )

Saint costuming idea #5: St. Nina, Enlightener of Georgia, was a brave young lady who packed up a few belongings and traveled all the way to the country of Georgia to tell the people there about God. The Theotokos promised that God would go with her, and gave her a cross woven from grapevines to take along with her, on her journey. St. Nina converted many to the Faith, and is lovingly called the “Enlightener of Georgia” because of how the country became a Christian nation through her influence. Read more at A girl who would like to dress as St. Nina could dress simply, carry a small bag or backpack, and take along a cross made of grapevine.