The Value of Play

Childhood Unplugged

I'm one of those Wild and Free mamas. I want my children to experience summer the slow and simplistic way. 

I have a saying  - It's too beautiful to waste these days rays. 

I love spending the morning on the front porch reading while the swing sways, the birds wake and chirp, and the sunrises through the pines. I love picnic lunches on a blanket in the backyard. I love splashing in water as the midday heat rises. I love afternoon tea back on the porch, sometimes with friends,  as I watch the cars or tractors pass by. I love to wind the evening down by playing badminton, horse shoes, or a little basketball. I love walks to the back of our property to pick berries. I love evening dinners together on the patio as the sunsets. I love to relax by the bonfire as we watch the stars come out and the conversation lingers probably way too late. 

I feel like a lot of the simplicity of slow country living that I love is lost with devices and electronics. They have some good uses, but I find that a limited use of them is best. 

Imaginations are lost when brains aren't forced to make something tangible. We have collected toys such as Legos, puzzles, make believe toys like swords, nerf guns, laser tags, etc... 

We also have an art table right in our family living area. Writing, drawing, creating picture stories keeps their little minds occupied. 

Summer Reading

Allowing time for reading throughout the summer will keep their minds sharp and their imaginations whirling. We go to the library and pick books each week. I pick a few I like to read aloud, and they pick some to read on their own. They each have a bookshelf and a basket. I also encourage reading outside. There is just something about reading in a hammock or the crook of the tree in the summertime. When some days are especially tiring and stressful, we will lay on a blanket to read and snack. 

Game Nights

We play board games and cards throughout the year. In the summer time, we get to enjoy the outdoor patio for our game night. Our favorites are Cranium, Battleship, Head Bandz, Would You Rather, Monopoly, Skip Bo, and  Uno


We love the outdoors. I would be happy outside in the sun all day. There are several ways we take advantage of the summer rays- play in the backyard, play in a creek, float down a river, camp in the mountains near a creek, picnics at the park, biking, swimming, visiting the zoo and botantic gardens. 

Road Trips

When it's time for a road trip, traveling to see grandparents, or traveling for vacations, it's always great to be prepared for the car ride. I know most people have TV's in their vehicles. We don't in our van. And when we did have tv's the kids would get bored of watching a movie. We made travel cases- colored pencils- crayons melt, paper, coloring books, activity books, string, cars, mad libs, reading books, book light, kids road maps, and books on tape.  And toys for rest stops like balls, hacky sacks, and frisbee. 

Get the app ROADTRIPPERS to plan fun stops along your route. The journey is part of the fun. 


We love having friends over. Even the kids will usually have a friend over once a week. We will have simple evening of grilling, casual conversations, and maybe even a game of cards or s'mores by the bonfire. 

Kayaking and Canoeing

Of course, it just wouldn't be right unless we were on the water somewhere. We will do a float down a small river nearby or in town. We might even load them all up for a trip far away. We plan places where we can also swim. Our favorite places in town are the Wolf River- all sections, and Shelby Farms lakes. Our fav kayaking destinations are Buffalo River in Tn or Ar, Rock Island, Fall Creek Falls, Harpeth, Hiawassee and swim at the olympic stretch of the Ocoee when water isn't releasing. And my all time favorite place is the Nantahala. 


As a large family we just don't go to the beach often at all. And when we are about to shell out a few thousand dollars for a beach house or condo, we just can't do it. Instead, we camp on the beach. Johnson's Beach National Park at Perdido Key is our favorite. 8 dollars a week. All you have to do is hike in about a mile. Everyone loves walks on the beach, and it's not much harder with a backpack on your back. The crashing waves and night, the glow of moonlight on the water, the bonfires at night, and waking to the sunrise over the water makes it completely worth it. (sadly, they closed this in 2018) Other camping areas are Henderson State Park and more

Dive In Movies

One year for our son Luke's birthday we had a dive in movie party. All the kids played in the pool and  I had a tv set up with a Lilo and Stitch, Aloha Scooby Doo , Camp Scare Scooby Doo, and Cheaper by The Dozen 2. More about that party here

So each summer I've continued the tradition. We will have a Smoothies and Movies outside. It just has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? And it's a great way to enjoy the summer time heat. 

Also, check out my Summer Fun Lists


The Wind and the Willows

The Story of the Treasure Seeks

The Railway Children


- continued from May-

Lilo and Stitch


The Sandlots

The Gold Medallion

The Railway Children

Soul Surfer


Caribbean Chicken

mango chicken salad

coconut lime salmon

shrimp tacos 

talapia tacos

cranberry cashew salad

pina colada pie

orange creamsicle cake