Summer is my favorite time of the year. When the sun is warm and my granddaughter comes to visit, everything is right in the world. Like many grandparents, I believe that I have a role to play in helping her to see the world beyond an iPhone screen. I want her to experience all of the elements – earth, wind, water and fire. Here are a few of the ways that I hope to enjoy the season. I hope that you find these ideas useful as you are planning your own summer activities.

Earth

Take a day trip into nature. Go on a hike in the woods or visit a remote area of countryside where your grandkids have never been before. If at all possible, get them to leave behind their electronic devices so that they can focus on the world around them.

If you live in the city, consider taking your grandchildren to a natural history museum, zoo, aquarium or interpretive center where there are good activities for kids to try some hands-on learning. Talk with your grandkids about how some people still live close to nature. Discuss plants, herbs and flowers. Watch for animals and birds and identify them. Ask them how they would solve problems in the environment. They probably have some amazing ideas!

Wind

Find a quiet place to watch the stars with your grandkids, whether it’s a public observatory or just a dark field away from city lights. See how many constellations you can find together. Share your knowledge. Tell them what a star really is. Imagine what life on alien planets might look like. What technology would they have? What would they eat? Why haven’t they contacted us yet?

Help your grandkids get some perspective on the natural world and not just technology. With a night away from mobile phones, iPads or computers – just you and your grandkids and the night sky, you can show your grandkids the value of silence and stillness under the cool night air.

Water

Water is the source of all life – and it’s also the source of all fun for kids! Find a lake or river or lake near your house and get ready to get cool in the summer sun. Plan a short camping trip and pack your bathing suits, fishing gear and inflatable boat.

While you are at the lake, make a point to enjoy every aspect of the water. Wash your hands the “natural” way. Show your grandkids how to collect rain water for drinking or how to boil water from a spring to make it safe. Talk with them about the water cycle. They may actually be able to teach you a thing or two!

Even if you live in a city, there are other “indoor” water activities you can do as well. Look at a map of the world together and see how much of the Earth’s area is covered by water. Watch YouTube videos or dolphins talking and make up funny stories together about what they are saying. Visit a local swimming pool together. The possibilities are endless!

Fire

Sitting around a campfire is one of humanity’s oldest traditions. Camping is also one of the fondest memories that many people have of their grandparents. Take your kids camping and experience the power of fire to draw your family together. Cook food over the campfire and enjoy S’mores and deliciously overcooked sausages. Tell a few ghost stories. Most of all, enjoy each other’s company and bask in the heat of the fire and the warmth of your family’s love.

In a world filled with blinking gadgets and buzzing phones, the greatest gifts we can give our grandkids are simplicity and love. We have a special role to play in the lives of the younger members of our families. Let’s help them to experience the world by showing them the 4 elements.

Have you ever gone camping with your grandkids? How do you help your grandkids enjoy and appreciate nature? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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