The refrigerator opening and closing repeatedly, the constant hum of the air conditioner, arguments over whose scoop of ice cream is bigger, the banging of the screen door for the millionth time, countless neighborhood children running through the house, chants of “I'm bored!”…Ahhhh, the sounds of summer. I can't do anything about the majority of those issues, but we can work to cure the boredom, and if you are willing to be creative and think outside of the box, we can do it for little to no cost!
- Have Fun with Food: Purchase popsicle molds at the dollar store and have fun creating your own crazy flavor combinations for popsicles; instead of going out for dinner, gather supplies and hold your own pizza making contest at home; have breakfast for dinner; borrow an ice cream maker and prove to your kids that real ice cream is not shaped like a rectangle; visit a Pick Your Own farm and gather berries and fruit to make your own jams and jellies; bake some cookies and sell them to friends and family to benefit the Great American Bake Sale.
- Get Messy!: Cover the table with paper and try shaving cream or pudding painting; have a water balloon fight; crack open a watermelon and hold a seed spitting contest; make mud pies; hang an old white sheet on the clothesline or drape over a fence, fill spray bottles with diluted acrylic or tempera paint and “spray” paint; make Jell-o playdough–play with it and then eat it!
- Become a Tourist: Visit your nearest Welcome Center or Chamber of Commerce and collect pamphlets and information about all of the sights your area has to offer. Enjoy your town or city through new eyes — tour local businesses of interest, visit local farms, parks and botanical gardens; give your child an inexpensive disposable camera and allow them to take photos along the way, by summer's end you'll have enough photos to create a scrapbook.
- Get Crafty!: FamilyFun has plenty of summer crafts for all ages and abilities, so get out the glue and scissors and help your kids create!
- Disguise learning as fun: Visit your local library and check out books, then hold a book reading contest — offer small prizes for most books read, most pages, etc.; locate flowers and bugs that grow/live in your area and do research to identify them; study the science behind making the perfect paper airplane, make your own and hold an airplane flying contest.
And if you REALLY want to get outside of the box, write all of your ideas (get the kids' input!) on slips of paper, drop them in a decorated “Summer Fun” jar, and let your kids randomly select the fun for the week. (The list maker in me got the shakes just typing that…) Be creative, think like a kid and most importantly, HAVE FUN!