Monday, August 11, 2014

6 Inexpensive Activities to Put on Your Family’s Summer Bucket List


I can’t believe it’s time for my daughter to go back to school.   In just a few days, I will drop her off and she’ll wander into a classroom full of new faces and experiences.  Yet, even though school is starting for many of our children, summer is far from over.  In fact, fall doesn’t begin until September 29.  Until then, I’m going to hang on to every last shred of summer….because it reminds me of being together with the ones who matter most.   Before saying goodbye to summer, consider putting one of these inexpensive activities on your family’s summer bucket list.  

*Note: This post contains affiliate links
Backyard Campout

Last year, our air conditioner broke.  It wailed and shuddered so loudly, I couldn’t turn it on because my neighbors would have hated me. Plus, it scared my toddler.  So, we turned it off and let spring pass us by.  We debated on paying to have it fixed or getting an entire new system.  While we mulled over our decision, and saved our money, it got hotter and hotter.  One day it was so sweltering, we decided to camp outside.  We have a nice six-man tent and, even though my back hurt a little in the morning, the backyard campout was loads of fun.  The kids loved it too.  We had s’mores, read stories, played with flashlights and star-gazed.  When the forecast said it would be over 100 degrees, we had another backyard campout, and then another.   When August hit, we decided to get a new air conditioner.  I don’t miss the sweat rolling down my legs.  However, I’m glad we created a lot of family memories during our campouts.   Going without air conditioning in Southern California during the summer forces you to get creative.  


Water Balloon Toss

When I was a kid, my street had an annual Fourth of July Block party.  The parents would haul out their barbecues and chairs.  We would all play a very unskilled game of street volleyball.  And, we always had a water balloon toss.  This might be why I feel a wave of nostalgia when I fill up water balloons.  My kids enjoy playing with water balloons.  And, even though they are a pain to fill up, I like having a water balloon toss too.  Toddlers aren't the most skilled at water balloon tosses.  However, I figured out that if I took regular balloons and filled them up just a little bit with water, the balloons wouldn’t burst open as easily.   This enabled us to do a few more tosses before getting drenched with water.  


Photo credit: morguefile.com/creative/jdurham
Splash Pad

I love splash pads.  There is one not too far from me.  It took me until almost the end of the summer break to take the kids over there.  I expected there to be a ton of kids in an overly-chlorinated watering hole.  However, it wasn’t very crowded at all; in fact, to the naked eye, it was clean; and it was FREE (a mother’s dream).   Splash pads are great because the water is very shallow.  While you always have to keep a close eye on your kids around water, a splash pad gives toddlers a little more room to, well, splash and practice their swimming skills. 



New Ice Cream Flavors

Ice Cream is synonymous with summer right?   An easy way to try some new ice cream flavors is to purchase some vanilla ice cream and flavored syrups.   Add a few drops to your ice cream and mix it in.  You can also mix in some toppings.  One of my favorite combinations is amaretto flavored ice cream with brownie and caramel all mixed up.

Solar Beads

Solar beads are a fun way to get kids thinking about the power of the sun. I suppose you don't have to do this in the summer. It works well on any summer day. However, I like to take advantage of those longer days. To do this activity, first, you'll need some solar beads. Next, give kids the beads and elastic or leather string. They can choose to make a necklace, bracelet, or key chain. Finally, go out in the sun and watch the beads change colors. You can also do science experiments with the beads. For instance, see what happens when you put sunscreen on the beads.


Solar Beads (pink, purple and yellow) Mixed with Pearls
Make a "Sun Catcher"

This simple craft looks lovely taped to a window.  All you need is a paper plate, oil pastels, some tissue squares, a glue stick and tape.  You can't get much cheaper than that! First, have your kids take a paper plate and fold it slightly so they can make a cut into the center.  Then, they should cut a round circle out of the center of your plate.  Next, have them cut some sun “rays” into the outer portion of the plate.  You should have a thin one to two centimeter ring.  Next, have kids take one of their oil pastels and color the paper plate sun.  We used yellow but you could really use any color you wanted.  After that, create your tissue paper center.  Using a glue stick, place a small amount of glue onto the edge of a tissue paper square.  Glue the squares onto the back of paper plate sun.   Continue gluing tissue paper squares, until you reach the center.  Try to barely overlap the tissue squares so it is opaque as possible.  Finally, hang the finished product in the window and watch the sun “catch” all the pretty colors.


I'm not planning on allowing the carefree nature of summer to slip through my fingers. What’s on your summer bucket list?