Summer with a Side of Play

Summer with a Side of Play

Our family loves exploring the great outdoors and learning through play. Having kids dressed in cute clothes is a bonus because you never know when this teacher-mom and family documentor will start snapping pictures to frame, share, or put in photobooks. BlueQuail is the perfect clothing choice day after day and adventure after adventure!

18 Summers

Summer is right around the corner and parents might be feeling pressure to fill up their child’s summer schedule. Don’t fall for it! Learning through play is something families can do together, implement easily, and is valuable for children’s development. The saying “18 summers is all we get” speaks to the importance of choosing tried and true ways to spend family time playing and learning. Let’s make this summer one to remember!

Scavenger Hunt- We love heading out to the ranch! Sometimes we go just because we love hearing the kids repeatedly ask “Are we there yet?” (haha) but mostly we go to get outside as a family and explore! Being at the ranch means hiking, riding, and talking about nature.
  • Create an age appropriate scavenger hunt page.
  • Include things you will likely see during that time of year and location (turkey feathers, a fawn, bluebonnets, or seashells…)
  • Include general items (animal tracks, something brown, something taller than you, or an insect with wings)

While our whole family
enjoys the scavenger hunt, Julia and Parker also learn valuable skills such as respecting nature, practicing colors, comparing sizes, describing how nature changes, and exploring animals.

Water Painting- I lovingly refer to this activity as “The Golden Gate Bridge”. It can be done anywhere with minimal set-up and supplies. 

  • Grab a bucket of water and a large paintbrush 
  • Let the kids go to town “painting” the fence, house, sidewalk, or rocks
  • By the time they are done “painting”, it’s time for them to get to work on a second coat of “paint” since their first coat has dried (do you see how it got its name?)
  • Give it an educational spin by having them paint a given number, letter, or shape
  • If you want to focus on directionality, place an item, such as a rock, on the ground and ask children to paint above/below or to the right/left of the item

Skills addressed in this activity are gross motor, basic water cycle, and hand strengthening. Depending on your child, this activity can be relatively independent and will allow you to clean out the garage, water plants, or just take a second to breathe!

Dig Pit- This is where imagination blooms…and it’s amazing to take a step back from supervising and watch the magic happen! The Pit is a 4’x3’ area in our backyard we intentionally left without grass and it holds a world of play.  Our kids bring construction vehicles to The Pit and dig up dirt to make a town, use their garden tools and plant seeds, make a fairy garden, or use their shovels to dig trenches lined with rocks and filled with water. The Pit is a place where kids can be kids. It is a time where parents step back and let kids have free (but safe) play.

Play is the work of children and while it might appear that learning is not taking place, it surely is. They are problem solving, learning to work as a team, compromising, sharing, engineering, and making something they are proud of!


Confession Time

I’m a mom who does not like messy, but I know children learn through play, that sometimes learning can get messy, and that children need space to learn and grow. I often tell my children (and myself) “that’s okay, play can be messy.” I repeat it in my head each time I glance up at their “mess”, which is truly their hard work and imagination in action. 

Sometimes children need you right there to help, but I also know that grit and self-efficacy are built through productive struggle. Like all things, being a parent is a balance.  BlueQuail Clothing has found that balance- it’s preppy but practical. Preppy for the expected things like school pictures, church, vacations, and holidays; practical for the unexpected things like the delivery of mud pies in pockets or accidently turning on the hose while it’s pointed at your sister. Let’s give ourselves grace and prioritize play rather than overscheduling! We only have 18 summers, let this be one for the books! Don’t steer clear of messy learning and fun, just be sure your kiddos are wearing the right clothes, BlueQuail, of course. 

For more fun hands-on learning ideas follow @texas_teachermom on Instagram and for the perfect clothes for adventure and everyday shop now at

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