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Health & Parenting

Summer Fun for Kids

School's out, and your kids want to have some fun in the sun. How can you keep them happy and busy -- and maybe help them learn something -- all the way through August?
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Toddlers

Toddlers, ages 1-2, require constant supervision. Whether you are home with your child or another adult is supervising, these activities will help your kids have fun in the sun.

Bins of fun. "Get some plastic bins and fill them with fun things, and rotate which bin your child gets every day," says Borba. "Use paper towel tubes and toilet paper tubes in one bin, which are great for toddlers to use as kazoos and drums. Put play dough in another bin and let them play with that for a while. And old paint brushes with just water are great -- toddlers can paint anything and watch the water change its color, and there's no pick up for you after."

On a warm summer day, take the bins outside and spend some time playing in the shade -- when the bins get boring, take advantage of nature by showing your toddler flowers, playing in the sandbox, or swinging on the jungle gym.

Book time. "Reading is such a great activity for all ages," says Borba. "For toddlers, have book time where you sit down and read for a half hour or so. Point to the pictures and tell your child what it is, and after reading it a few times, it's amazing how fast they'll pick it up and start saying it with you."

Read books to your toddler that have pictures of things you'll find outside in the summer -- butterflies, flowers, birds, frogs, bees, anything under the sun. Your toddler will know the names of Mother Nature's creations before summer is over.

Swimming lessons. "Swimming lessons are great for toddlers as young as 2 or 3," says Ken Haller, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. "And your whole family can enjoy this activity."

While swimming lessons for toddlers is a good way to beat the heat and introduce them to water, remember that children this age should never be left alone around pools. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "teaching your child how to swim DOES NOT mean your child is safe in water," especially toddlers.

Classic pastimes. Games of old are great inside, but even better outside in the summer. "There are very simple games toddlers really enjoy, like duck duck goose and ring around the rosey," says Roth. "Toddlers also love tunnels and forts -- you can either buy them or make them out of cushions and blankets. And if you're ready for some noise, give your toddler pots and pans to play with, or go for a quieter version, and give them Tupperware."

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