Summer is on its way! Are you looking for ways to keep the kids busy, entertained, and learning? Here is our summer “bucket list.”
Take the Video Games Outside: Sick of watching your kids sit and play video games? Then take the action outside! It is surprising how many video games can easily be reenacted in your backyard. If your kids are crazy for Angry Birds, stack up some boxes, grab some balls, and start throwing. You can even draw the face of your favorite Angry Bird right on the ball. Kids love to build new structures with the boxes and watch them fall down. And they get a lot more exercise than playing Angry Birds on your smart phone.
Ice to the Rescue: When it’s hot, who doesn’t appreciate a large block of ice? The night before fill up a large plastic bowl or container with water. Drop your kids’ favorite action figures inside and pop it in the freezer. The next day hand them water guns and let them rescue their super hero by shooting at the ice.
Wash the car: For grownups washing the car can be a dull business, but if you toss in enough buckets and sponges for the little ones, it can be a party. What kid isn’t looking for a good excuse to shoot mom with the hose? The trick is to lower your spot-free shine expectations and to prepare to get wet–really, really wet.
Find a Big Hill and Roll Something Down It: Never underestimate how fun gravity can be. Find a safe, good-sized hill and let the good times roll! Pumpkins, oranges, balls, toy cars, and watermelons all make excellent candidates. Kids particularly love anything that just might burst open when it hits a bump just right!
Write a Book: Kids love writing their own stories and digital cameras make it easy to write, illustrate, and print a book all in one day. Start the day out by writing the book together. You can base it off a book you love or anything else that interests your kids.
Figure out what kinds of photos you will need to illustrate it and break up the text according to page. Your kids can write out the text themselves on pieces of paper or you can print it off your computer.
Then grab your camera. Take pictures of your kids acting out various parts of the book. If you like, you can even raid your dress-up box for costumes. Once you are done, print the photos out on your printer. Let your kids draw on top of the photos if they want to add any “special effects” and then assemble the photos with the text. Punch holes along the left side of the book about a half-inch apart and a half-inch from the edge. Finish it up by threading a piece of yarn through the holes.
Fizz Whiz: Let your older kids play chemist with this simple experiment. Fill a see-through cup halfway with white vinegar. Stir in a large drop of dish soap and a little bit of food coloring. To keep your kitchen clean, be sure to place it on a tray. Add a heaping spoonful of baking soda and watch it grow!
Feed the Birds: Pine cone bird feeders are easy to make and the birds love them. All you need are some pine cones, peanut butter, birdseed, and a piece of twine. Let your kids cover the pine cone in peanut butter and then sprinkle the seed on top. Tie the twine around the top and hang from a tree. For some added fun, make pretend binoculars out of empty toilet paper rolls by taping two rolls together and go bird watching!
Glow Sticks in the Bathtub: A new twist on the same old bath. Fill up the tub, turn off the lights, and throw a few glow sticks into the water. It will fill your bathroom with an unearthly light and your kids will absolutely love it. Good luck getting them out of the tub!
Pipe Cleaners and Magnets: Fill up an empty two-liter bottle about a quarter full with cut up pipe cleaners. Give your kids some strong magnets and let them watch how the magnets attract the pipe cleaners. Make sure the magnets aren’t small enough to swallow if you are doing this with younger children. A magnetic wand works best if you have one.
Take Your Kids Geocaching: Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. You use a GPS unit to find hidden caches (containers containing a logbook and sometimes other trinkets for trade) hidden in your area. It is an active and exciting way for your kids to enjoy the outdoors. To get started, visit Geocaching.com to find any geocaches in your area and to learn about what you will need. Some of the trails can be quite difficult, so check for a one star difficulty and terrain rating.
Make Your Own Robot: Turn your kids into robots using ordinary supplies around the house. Boxes make great robot heads; empty paper towel rolls can be cut open and wrapped around arms; and old tissue boxes make the perfect robot shoes. Give your kids a pile of supplies, duck tape, and scissors and see who can come up with the best robot costume.
Bug Safari: Give your kids a magnifying glass and head outside on a bug safari. You can go on a hike and spot bugs that may not be living in your backyard, or you can dig around in your own lawn. See who can spot the most caterpillars or who can find the most interesting bug.
Water Park: You can turn your yard into a water park with a hose, a two-liter bottle and a $5 adapter from the local hardware store. Poke holes in the bottom of your two-liter bottle and then attach it to your garden hose using a male-to-male hose adapter. Once you are done, toss the bottle over a tree and let it hang down. Turn on the water and watch the kids cool off!