As Nat King Cole once sang:
“Roll out those, lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer!”
Yes, summer has finally arrived, the mercury levels are rising on the thermometers and we can look forward to a cool beverage after work as the nights get warm and balmy – (well, hopefully – unless you’re off on the Parenta Trust Rally, the rest of us are still in the UK after all!)
Looking on the bright side, during summer, we often aim to take our children outside and just enjoy the wonderful weather and let them feel the sun on their skin (with sunscreen of course!) and the sand between their toes. However, once you’ve built a sandcastle fortress and run through the sprinklers a few times, why not try some of our alternative activities involving summer food, to help fill those long, summer days? They may take a few minutes, or a few hours, but we hope they will give you a few useful ideas for some seasonal fun.
1. De-core strawberries with a straw
Strawberries are best at this time of year; they’re plump, sweet and juicy; and they’re also rich in vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and fibre so nutritious for little people too. But do you know how to de-core a strawberry with a straw? No? Then prepare to be amazed. Having washed your strawberries, hold the strawberry with the pointed end facing down, then using a strong straw, place the straw on the pointed end and push the straw upwards through the middle of the strawberry until it pokes out of the top, taking the core and the top leaves with it. It’s a simple ‘hack’ but it works, and the best thing is that the children in your setting can have great fun doing it too. The cored pieces look like miniature ‘strawberry palm trees’ so you could make a food picture with these, and of course, you’ll have plenty of delicious strawberries for a healthy snack as well!
You could extend this activity to sing about rainbows too using some popular nursery rhymes and teach the children the names of the items you are using.
2. Make an edible rainbow
This is a great way to encourage your youngsters to eat more fruit and vegetables and teach them about the colours of the rainbow at the same time. Cut up some pieces of fruit and vegetables of different colours and get the children to create their own ‘food rainbow’. Below is a list of fruits and vegetables you could use for the different colours, but if you can think of more, even better:
3. Make your own ice lollies
Everyone loves an ice lolly on a hot summer day and children will love helping to make them. You can buy some lolly moulds and sticks easily in any household store and for a quick and simple lolly, make up some fruit squash, use fruit juices or yoghurts, putting them in the freezer to set. However, why stop there? There are some great recipes on the internet; see this website for some unusual ones such as avocado and coconut, fruit salad ice-pops, and traffic light lollies. Or get the children to experiment and see what they come up with!
4. Make a picnic and visit a local park
Summer would not be summer without a picnic, but you don’t have to rely on the old ‘sandwiches and cake’ anymore. The list of picnic-friendly fare has been expanding over the years, and now, people take just about anything on a picnic, so think wraps, exotic salads and quail’s eggs! Some of our favourites can be found here but be warned – visiting this page can make your mouth seriously water! The great thing is that they are all cheap and easy to make with younger children. And if you are going to the local park for your picnic, remember to take along a blanket and some suitable bird food to feed the ducks too!
5. Make a summer smoothie
Smoothies are great for younger children as they are often used to drinking milk, so you could switch to making a smoothie every once in a while, to add some extra nutrition or some hidden vegetables if children are resistant to eating vegetables. A basic smoothie recipe would consist of:
- Milk or a milk alternative like soya or rice milk
- ½ mashed banana
- An extra portion of fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or raspberries
- Some ‘hidden’ vegetables such as kale, spinach or summer squash
Put all the ingredients into a blender or smoothie-maker or use a hand-held blender to create a smooth mixture.
6. Make fruit kebabs
Fruit kebabs are fun to make but ensure that the children are well supervised if you are using skewers. Cut up some ripe summer fruits and get the children to make fruit ‘kebabs’ by pushing the fruit onto the skewers. You could mix up the colours, create another rainbow, or have different themes such as ‘all red’ or your favourite football team colours.