Every month there is lots to celebrate – official holiday or not, they provide great inspiration for creative activities you can do with your family. The great thing about “month” celebrations are they are not tied to a specific day and allow for activities that can spread out throughout the month and celebrated whenever you like. It gives you the chance to celebrate and make everyday special. July is: National Blueberry Month, National Anti-Boredom Month, National Cellphone Courtesy Month, and National Ice Cream Month!
National Blueberry Month – If you have the opportunity to go to a “U Pick” blueberry farm, head out there to celebrate National Blueberry Month! Sunshine, sweet berries, and blue hands are a great way to create some summer memories. Added bonus – everyone will get a good nights sleep!
Once you have your haul of blueberries, there are plenty of things you can do with them! You can make your own tasty smoothies and ice pops, you can stir blueberries and honey into plain unsweetened yogurt to make a healthy snack, and they’re also great stirred into oatmeal or added to any of your favorite fruit desserts.
National Anti-Boredom Month – With kids out of school for the summer, it’s easy for boredom to set in. This is a great time for your children to explore their own interests. Perhaps there is something they touched on in school that they would love to investigate further. Maybe there is some creative activity they have wanted to try and didn’t have the time for during the school year.
Many communities also offer summer Arts and Recreation programs that introduce new activities and allow kids to socialize. If you have a Parks and Recreation department, or even a Chamber of Commerce, check for information on events and fun things to do in your hometown. There are also a lot of great ideas for creative activates on this website, so please spend some time exploring!
National Cellphone Courtesy Month – It is fascinating to me that our society has need of a National Cellphone Courtesy Month. A quick look around though reveals that we all need to brush up on our cellphone etiquette.
There is the basic universal etiquette such as turning off your cell phone if you are at the movies or a live theater event. Having been on stage during a performance where an audience member let their phone ring for two minutes before answering it and having a loud five minute conversation, I can attest to how quickly it breaks the mood. Some people may not realize the sheer amount of work it takes to create a live performance. It can take months or years for a show that may only be on a few times.
Living in a cellphone culture means we are always available, day or night. This has practical applications as far as safety and having access to help in an emergency, but it also creates a culture that is very damaging to relationships. How many times have you been trying to have a conversation with someone, only to hear that little beep of an incoming text message and see the persons eyes slip down to their cellphone screen and start to reply? How does this make you feel? I know personally it makes me feel like those few lines of text and that conversation is more important then whatever ideas I am trying to express. It is one of the basics of human nature that every person wants to know they are being heard and that what they’re saying is important – answering texts in the middle of a conversation will tend to trivialize that.
There is definitely a divide between older and younger people as to what is appropriate cellphone usage. Kids and teens today are so connected they can not get through a class without a text or phone call. Even walks and general physical activity are interrupted by the ever-present cellphone; with so much attention focused on the screen, a lot of the environment gets missed to the point where it becomes a safety issue.
In ye olde days only Doctors, CEOs, the President, and superheroes had “Batphones,” but today there is the expectation that work can get ahold of you day or night. I found this problem especially prevalent in Turkey; everyone has two cellphones (one from each of the major carriers) and they are on 24-7. Can’t start your car at 2am? Call your mechanic, he’ll answer his cell(s). It’s not so bad in Canada that we need two phones, but the next time you start to dial in the middle of the night, stop and think if what you have to say is worth waking the recipient up.
If your children are not avid cellphones users yet, take the opportunity to teach them and set ground rules about appropriate usage from the very beginning. A great way to do this is to role-play different situations (have the adult as the one displaying rude phone etiquette) and discuss how it makes everyone feel. With older children and teens, use the excuse of “National Cellphone Courtesy Month” to discuss what is and is not considered good cell phone behaviour. The Golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” comes in handy here. When I have had conversations with my students about cellphone usage, most of them have simply not considered or talked about the issue before.
National Ice Cream Month – Most commercial ice cream is full of stabilizers, thickeners, preservatives and hard-to-pronounce ingredients. Celebrate National Ice Cream Month by making your own “Kick the Can” Ice cream. This is a great way to get outside and have some fun while creating a tasty and personalized dessert.
“Kick the Can” Ice Cream
Makes about 2 Cups
- 2 cups half & half cream
- ⅓ cup + 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
You’ll Also Need:
- 10 cups ice
- 1 ½ cups rock salt (or use sea salt)
- 3-pound coffee can, emptied and rinsed
- 1-pound coffee can, emptied and rinsed
- Duct tape
Looking for something a little more exciting then Vanilla? You can use any flavor extract you like to your vanilla Ice Cream Base. Chopped fruit, crushed cookies, or candy bars, and nuts can be added AFTER the first 10 minutes of kicking – if you add them at the beginning the Ice cream may have a hard time setting.
What To Do:
In the smaller coffee can, whisk the cream, sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Put the lid on and seal with duct tape – you want to make sure it will not leak while getting kicked around.
Place the smaller can inside the larger one. All around the smaller can, layer salt and ice, using ¾ cup of the salt and 5 cups of the ice.
Cover the larger can and seal with duct tape.
Now you’re ready to go: Lay the can on its side and have the kids roll it back and forth to each other and kick it around a bit. For quick results, just stand in a circle and play pass with the can, but for a longer game, play “Kick the Can – Hide and Seek.” The can is placed in a central location and one person is “it” (henceforth referred to as the “Tagger”). The Tagger starts counting while the rest of the players run and hide. Once the Tagger is finished counting, the Hiders have to try to get from their spots to the can and kick it without being tagged. The last person to kick the can or the first person to be tagged becomes the Tagger for the next round. It takes a little longer to make ice cream this way, but nobody should mind if they’re having fun.
Keep it going for about 10 minutes, then open up the containers and check on the ice cream. The ice cream will freeze faster on the outsides than in the centre, so use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and mix.
Add any flavor additions at this point. Reseal the smaller can. Dump all the melted ice water from the larger can, place the small can back inside, and surround it with the remaining ice and salt.
Repeat the kicking and rolling for another 10 minutes. Serve!
This will make a softer ice cream, please don’t expect a hard ice cream or you may be disappointed.
(If you get tired of the rolling and kicking before the ice cream is ready, just give it a good stir and put it in the freezer for about an hour)
If you have a large group,have an Ice Cream Flavor Kick-off. Separate into groups and have each group work together to create their own signature flavor and create a sample can for everyone to test. Come up with some small prizes or recognition for a couple creative categories: “Best Flavor,” “Best Texture,” “Best it-shouldn’t-work-but-does,” “Most Creative Flavor” or any other category you can think of.
How will you and your family be celebrating July? Please share your ideas with us by commenting on this post!