# 0-3 Years, 4-7 Years, 8-12 Years, Gravity, Outdoors

Best Summer Toy for Small Yards or No Yard

Best Summer Toy for Small Yards or No Yards - TheEngineersKids

Happy First Day of Summer! I am so excited. I know everyone else has been out of school for a month, but we just got done last week! It seems so sad, I know, but usually we don’t go back to school until mid September (this year we go back in August, because they are switching us to a more “normal” schedule all because of all the testing the kids have to do in school…lame). And September is a much better month to be out of school in California.

Why you ask? Because all the touristy types have left, so it’s not crowded, and it’s way hotter than it was in May and June. So we are still partying, and picnicking, and surfing, and swimming, and Disneyland-ing, etc. Then San Diego does the whole month of October when kids get into everything free, so we just keep on partying. Which is why we all live here, even though it is so dang expensive, and our houses and yards are much smaller than in other areas.

We live in a condo. It’s small for seven people. And the backyard is only twenty feet by twenty feet, which leaves little room for slip-n-slides, pools of any sort, elaborate sprinkler systems (awwwe, I want one of these for Eva), or especially this monster that my kids are in awe of.

We beat the heat with our good old garden hose, some buckets, and our favorite hot weather toy. The kids call it a chemistry set.

Best summer toy for no yard - Water play - TheEngineersKids

The weather really warmed up here for a few days this week. The kids played chemistry on their picnic table for hours and hours. The set we used came from our local toy library, which normally I love, but this time it kind of hampered their play a bit. I felt protective of the toys, since they weren’t ours and there was mud and soap involved. The set came with a couple of small pitchers with pour-spouts, a few pipettes (like turkey basters), measuring cups and spoons, and some plastic hoses.

Best summer toy for small apartments - Water play - TheEngineersKids

Since the kids were getting the toy library toys muddy, I made them put them all away after that. We never really got them back out again, and then it was time to return them. It made me feel like a mean mom for not letting them play more when they were having so much fun with it.

Best summer toy when you have no yard - Water play - TheEngineersKids

I decided to get out some of our own tools and look into making our own “chemistry” set a little cooler. Maybe I’ll run to the dollar store to see what they have.

Here’s my shopping list:

  • bucket (ours are all cracked, and really all the play buckets at Target and Wal-Mart are just not very sturdy)
  • turkey baster
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • large and small funnels
  • plastic tubing if they’ve got it
  • a colander (so the kids can make an outdoor shower of course)

Or maybe I’ll save myself the trip and just buy this same one, since it really was pretty all-inclusive.

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See this post at After School Activities Linky Party:

After School Link Party ButtonHosted by: Mama SmilesPlanet Smarty PantsRelentlessly Fun Deceptively EducationalThe Educators’ Spin on It

 

This week we played - TheEngineersKids
# This Week We Played...

This Week We Played…(week 1)

We’re starting a new weekly series, where The Engineer’s Kids give you a peek at all the fun things we play. Maybe you’ll get a sense of how truly amazing, and fun, and chaotic our life of five kids under 8 really is. The kids are learning so much. Also, man are they ever messy. I can’t keep up with them.

So, without further ado, I give you This Week We Played…

Measure with a Balance - TheEngineersKids

Here’s Leto measuring popsicle sticks and trash in a balance. The kids keep wanting to measure liquid in this thing, which you totally could. I just don’t want that much water being poured into things inside the house.

You can see our sight word flash cards in the background. I was trying a new system of moving them around on the wall in random ways every few days. I thought it might attract the kids’ attention and make them read them more frequently. I’m not sure it worked.

TheEngineerKids build a house with TRIO blocks

We love TRIO blocks at our house. They are the perfect bridge between Mega Blocks and LEGOs. Plus they come with cool instructions (you can see one behind Leto) to build all kinds of things: lots of boats and planes, a crab and a dinosaur, and tons of houses.

TheEngineersKids saved their own money for these

The kids asked if we could check the balance on their family bank accounts, so they could buy some stuff at Knott’s Berry Farm when we went the other day.

TheEngineersKids learned a lesson in finances, when one didn't have enough money to buy something at the souvenir shop

Finn didn’t get to buy anything, because he only has 50 cents to his name. Poor guy. I think he spent it all when we bought the seals.

TheEngineersKids break the ice

Our next door neighbors were cleaning out some closets and brought over a few toys. They are grandparents, and wanted to get rid of all the noisy toys. I accepted the noisy toys with not a little apprehension. Despite the noise, Don’t Break the Ice has been really fun. Even little Eva can break out the ice chunks with her hammer and has a lot of fun.

TheEngineersKids make a jacaranda flower sand cake

The twinners made this awesome flower, sand cake. Take a bite!

That was our week in toys and playing. Until next time on This Week We Played…

 

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Visit a nature park - TheEngineersKids
# Adventures

Get Your Kids Into Nature – Coastkeeper Nature Garden

In Orange County it’s a little difficult to find places in nature to go exploring. Honestly, a few school assignments to bring a rock to class have proven rather difficult. The landscapers remove all the rocks…it’s a little weird, but anyway. There are a lot of hiking trails, but sometimes I don’t want to go hiking by myself with all the kids.

On those occasions we love going to the Coastkeeper Nature Garden. It’s half drought-tolerant demonstration gardens, to teach people how to plant drought-tolerant plants in different design styles (traditional, mediteranian, craftsman); and half free-play area for the kids. I actually love the demonstration gardens, and dream of planting all drought-tolerant plants when we someday buy a house. The kids have learned a great deal about different plants and it is a great place to answer a thousand why questions.

Get Your Kids Into Nature - TheEngineersKids

The kids area is really fun too. Lately, I’ve been on toddler-following duty, while the kids run around on the tree stumps, through the tunnels, up the rocks, and all around the paths. They find new picnic spots each time we go. There’s a small adobe structure, which brought up a conversation about when I lived in a rural part of Argentina where they lived in houses like those, and how while there some friends of mine built an adobe house for a woman who had no home. I take any chance I have to give them an inkling about how others live, the needs they have, and how to show charity.

All in all, we love the nature park. It’s dusty, and sometimes hot, and lets kids get their energy out.

Get Your Kids Into Nature - TheEngineersKids

For anyone in Orange County, or for anyone planning a visit, you should check out the Fun Orange County Parks website. We find so much good information about which parks to explore from that website. Here’s their review of the Coastkeeper Garden.

Anyone care to share fun nature parks in their area? You know, in case I want to go on vacation and check them out.