This playdate idea is provided by special Guest Blogger Julie Kieras from A Year with Mom & Dad.
Visiting the beach is the quintessential summer trip – but what if you’re not near an ocean or lake? What if you just don’t have the time? Or if your kids are really susceptible to sunburn? We have all three so instead…
We recreated beach excitement by inviting friends over for an aquatic playdate inspired by ocean creatures! Even without a beachfront, the kids kept cool and stayed busy playing with the water life. Here’s how the day went:
1) Story Time! The kids sat on a blue beach blanket to mimic the cool ocean waters, as we read a short picture book about sea life.
2) Making Some (Ocean-Themed) Music: Because ocean waves are so rhythmic, we struck up a crustacean band, singing ocean-themed songs. It was easy to modify songs like The Wheels on the Bus to lyrics like “The sharks in the sea go chomp, chomp, chomp…” or turn Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star into “Twinkle, twinkle sticky starfish…” The kids played on wooden instruments to clack, rattle, and jingle, and keep the beat while we sang. Even the babies got into the rhythm!
3) Aquatic Scavengar Hunt! With their imaginations full of ocean dwellers, they raced off as “ocean explorers” to return all the lost fishies back to their native waters. (Read: find the fish-shaped toys I’d hidden around the yard and toss into a small pool of water.) They even found some quiet sea sponges! (Check out how to make your own sea sponges!).
4) Let the water play fun began! We had a fast-paced fishing game using a water hourglass timer. The timer gave children just a few seconds to “catch” as many sea creatures as they could, using a claw catcher pool toy! They learned that the bigger fish were harder to catch, so they developed a strategy to catch the smaller fish first!
The sea sponges along with ocean bubbles (water balloons) in a collapsible water bucket begged for more attention, so the kids took turns trying to make the biggest splat ring on the driveway, or hit the highest-scoring chalk target. The kids screamed with laughter to find some balloons simply bounced, and that water-logged sponges made the best splats! Since the kids were in a very young age bracket, we did not encourage having them throw the balloons at each other. (NOTE: Please be sure to pick up all fragments of water balloons as these are unsafe for babies to find).
Sunshine fun calls for cool snacks, so the kids settled down at the end of the playdate with “summer fruit tea” (non-caffeinated) and a water-themed dessert of graham cracker crumbs, blue pudding, and fish-shaped goldfish crackers! Parents also brought bag lunches for an easy and quick lunch before the sweeter snacks were served. Having every family bring a lunch not only helps the host parent with prep time, but also ensure every child’s dietary needs will be met safely.
At the end of the day, each child took a sea sponge to continue the water play at home! I hope these ideas help your kids and their friends stay cool this summer!
Have you hosted a themed playdate before? Share your tips and activities with us in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.
* * *
Julie Kieras mothers two inquisitive boys with the support of her husband in the lovely four seasons of New England. She is often found at home interpreting toddler-speak, elbow-deep in PlayDough, or behind the pages of a book. In her spare time she enjoys organizing, walking, crafting, or baking! She blogs about her family life at A Year With Mom and Dad.
This post was created for our Summer Fun Calendar series. Click for more info.