By Colleen O'Connor
Dreaming of a warm getaway? If you can't head for the beach, do the next-best thing and bring the beach to you! This is a great way to help children stave off cabin fever on a dreary February day.
First, set the scene by pulling out summery items such as beach towels, lawn chairs, umbrellas, beach balls, and pool inflatables. Play some tropical music or ocean sounds. Everyone can dress up in beachwear, swimsuits, flip-flops, and sunglasses.
You can create an indoor sandbox by filling a large shallow box with uncooked pasta, rice, or oatmeal. For (slightly) less mess, fill the bathtub and play with toy boats and floaties.
Crafts can include sand art, oceans in a jar, messages in a bottle, or painted seashells. Decorate picture frames to hold photos of summer fun--this can bring back good memories from last summer or give them something to look forward to. Another option is to make Rice Krispie treats, press the warm mix into a sand-castle mold, and then decorate the treat with candy and frosting.
The "beachgoers" may enjoy making leis and trying their hand at hula dancing. Borrow an instructional DVD from the library, or just play some music and encourage children to make up their own hula moves by using their hands to act out words.
When it's snack time, spead out the beach towels for a picnic. Serve summer foods such as smoothies, tropical fruit, kebabs, potato salad, "mud pudding," popsicles, or mini burgers and hotdogs. Drink lemonade out of water bottles or add drink umbrellas to the glass. Children may enjoy getting to sample a real coconut if you can find one at the grocery store.
If you want to play some games, try treasure hunts, the limbo, relay races, musical beach towels, hula hooping, or balloon volleyball. With all of these ideas, you're sure to enjoy a summery day indoors!