I know that Halloween is all about Candy CANDY CANDY, but I like for the kids to get something else too, something that will enhance their minds rather than just rot their teeth. Something educationally healthy! I know, I’m a nerd. Either way, I gave Squeaks a bib and two Halloween outfits, and JI got a decorated box full of Halloween books.
I don’t know how to read a calendar, so I thought last Sunday was Father’s Day. Lucky for you guys, this means you get two ideas for gifts this year! Yay!
First I made a mug for Poke using a kit that I picked up at Michael’s for under $2. I painted Squeak’s foot and JI’s hand, and I pressed them onto the mug, then added “#1 Dad” and “2015” (on the bottom). Super quick, fairly painless, very cute! All you have to do to set the paint is put the mug in the oven, set it to 360F, and let the mug heat up with the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes, and when it goes off, turn off the oven and let the mug and oven cool down together.
Second I made a picture frame for my dad, who we call Poppy. I bought a frame at Michael’s for $1, had JI paint it as he desired, and when it dried I added the decorations – “We ❤ Poppy” spelled out in nuts and bolts and little pieces of hardware. Again, super easy, very quick, but unfortunately, not painless. JI grabbed the glue gun off the counter and squeezed hot glue all over his arm, resulting in a 2nd degree burn. Poor little dude!
Backyard Waterpark– Set up a slide into the kiddie pool and turn on the sprinkler, hang a sprinkler from a tree and drive cars through it, your imagination is the limit!
Driveway water darts – Draw a bullseye on your driveway with chalk and use wet sponges as the darts
Waterballoon or water gun fight– Once you get hit, you’re out! Team with the last man standing wins!
Ice block – Fill a container (I use a plastic shoebox sized one from the dollar store) with water, food coloring, and trinkets like dinosaurs or cars or whatever tiny things you have lying around. Freeze and let the kids go at it until all the tiny things are free!
Amp up the slip’n’slide – Dish soap, shaving cream, no oil!
Car wash – Do a real car wash with your neighborhood, or set up a kids’ car wash with sprinklers/hoses and dish soap.
Plant seeds – You can get a packet of seeds for less than $1 in some places; plant in a clear cup to see how the roots grow!
Play ice cream – Empty a can of shaving cream into a container and freeze until hard. It melts quickly and has a weird texture. You can add colored rice to be the sprinkles! Give the kids scoops, bowls, etc. Not for consumption!
Salt sculptures– Combine 3c salt + 3T water, mix until every grain of salt has gotten damp (add more water if necessary), dry for at least 18 hours. Use sand castle molds, deep bowls, etc. to build shapes.
Find a new playground – Pick a random park from the map, or stop at one that you always drive by but have never visited.
Picnic – Pack sandwiches, tea, and cookies. Find a cozy spot away from the ants.
Bonfire – Roast hot dogs, make s’mores, tell stories, and enjoy the evening.
Yard sale – Gather up all the stuff you haven’t touched in the past year (or longer!) and sell it at low-low prices. Buy something for the family with the proceeds! Donate everything that doesn’t sell – once it’s outta the house, don’t let it back in!
Lemonade stand– Make homemade lemonade and give the proceeds to a children’s charity.
Feed the ducks – But don’t feed them bread! Get some duck food from your local pet store, or opt for veggie trimmings, cracked corn, rice, oats, or thawed frozen peas.
Go camping in the backyard – Build a tent from branches and a sheet, or just rough it under the stars.
Backyard obstacle course– Jump over the rock! Go through the sprinkler! Hop on one foot down the path! The possibilities are endless.
Draw roads on the driveway with chalk– Make a huge street for bikes and trikes, or make tiny streets for toy cars.
Flashlight tag– My version: Everyone has a flashlight. One person is IT, and has their light on – everyone else has theirs off. IT counts to 50 or 100. Everyone else hides. IT has to find each person and shine the light on them. Once you have been found, you join the IT team and turn your light on, and you find the rest of the people. Last person to be found is the next IT.
ABC treasure hunt – Make an alphabetical list of things to find in nature or in the house or backyard.
Texture/nature rubbings(please, no gravestones) – All you need is paper and a few old crayons!
See the fireworks– Lots of towns have them near the 4th of July, and you could easily see fireworks every day for a week!
See a concert in the park – Many places offer free or very cheap concerts in the evening or on weekend afternoons.
DIY projector for outside movie night – Add popcorn, a blanket, and some wine for the parents!
In the Kitchen
Bake cookies and make ice cream sandwiches – Homemade chocolate chip + vanilla ice cream.
Learn a new recipe– Let the kids go through your cookbooks and pick something fun.
Make popsicles – You can simply put juice in a popsicle mold, or get a little funkier with fresh fruit combos!
Homemade pizza – Buy a premade shell or dough to cook, or make your own. Top with anything you can think of.
Homemade Ice Cream– It’s way easier than you think, and healthier than the store bought stuff (even if you make it with candies and chocolate and all that stuff!)
Visit an ethnic grocery store– Make dinner from the interesting things you find there.
Make smoothies – Take all your fruit, mix it up with milk and yogurt, and bam! Smoothies.
Root beer floats – A classic summer treat! Invite your grandparents over and have them tell you stories about their childhood while you sip on a brown cow.
Places to Go
Summer reading club – Most local libraries have a program for school-age kids and grown-ups too.
Museum – Art, History, Science, etc.
Visit farmer’s market– Usually on weekend mornings, Google “your town name + farmer’s markets”
State Fair– The Ohio State Fair is HUGE and super family friendly! Check out a county fair if the state one is too far away.
Zoo – If you have a large family and no membership, it can be pricey. Try to make it less expensive by packing snacks and drinks for everyone, and make sure you wear good shoes!
Mini golf– Winner gets an ice cream sundae! Losers get ice cream cones! Hehehe 🙂
Amusement park – The cheaper, the better! We have a few tiny parks here in Ohio, and in some places those carnivals in parking lots still show up from time to time.
Waterpark – This can be an investment, just like the zoo. Once again, bring everything you need (towels, snacks, etc.) and try to resist all the souvenirs and extras!
Local pool – Our parks & rec has a system of pools that only costs $1/person admission. Check your local community boards to see if there’s anything similar in your area! Sometimes the local pool is only $3-6/person, which isn’t too bad anyway.
State park– There are so many parks to visit in our country. Try to see all the ones close to you!
200 mile road trip – For us, this would be Columbus to Cleveland or Columbus to Cincinnati, or Columbus to Pittsburgh. Go for a day or overnight, and check out how the other half lives!
Camping in nature – As in real nature, not the backyard 😉 Get a cabin, rent an RV, pitch a tent at a campground.
Do a kids’ workshop or class – Lowe’s, Home Depot, and local rec centers always have interesting things happening for people of all ages.
Go to a baseball game – Minor League, Major League, Little League, Geezer League… tons of baseball in the summer!
Go to the dollar theater – See that movie you wanted to see back in January!
Go bowling– Especially good for a rainy day.
Bring Your Friends
Talent show – Everyone can showcase their special or hidden talents.
Visit residents at a nursing home– Put on a show with karaoke, play the piano or another instrument if you know how, or just sit and visit and let them enjoy your company.
Wii Sports Challenge – Who in the family is best at Wii bowling? Which one of your friends can kick butt at Wii Tennis?
Scary story scare-off (or silly stories for little ones!)– Tell the scariest or silliest story you can think of! Or, one person can start the story and each person adds two lines. Go around the circle until someone says “BOO!”
Ice Cream Social – Invite your friends and have everyone bring one ingredient to make sundaes. Syrups, berries, sprinkles, jimmies, nuts (if you can), cones, waffles, anything you can think that might be good with ice cream!
Volunteer – At an animal shelter, soup kitchen, YMCA/YWCA, food pantry, etc.
Friends parade– Get everyone together and decorate your bikes, trikes, and other ride-on toys. Go through the neighborhood playing music on your mp3 player (back in my day, I had an FM radio on blast!)
Funny dice – Make two large dice out of styrofoam blocks (get them at a craft or hobby store). On one die write verb phrases such as “play like”, “dance like”, “jump like”, etc. and on the other die write silly nouns like “a dog”, “an alien”, “a purple people eater”, etc.
Streets on the carpet– Use painter’s tape to map out a city on the rug for your toy cars.
Fingerpainting in the tub– Buy soap paint, or make your own with liquid food coloring and white liquid soap (add a few drops of coloring, stir up, enjoy!)
Learn a skill – Bike riding, rollerskating, tying shoes, etc.
Learn sign language – It is easier than you think! There are tons of videos on YouTube, or check out some books from the library.
Build a bird house– Out of scrap wood, or popsicle sticks, or half a 2-litre, or any crazy thing you can find online!
Sock puppets– Make them the kind that eat dust! Use old socks and draw on faces – if you want to get fancy you can add yarn hair and googly eyes.
Write a book (or comic strip!)– Make your family the stars of your book.
Castle/playhouse/fort out of cardboard boxes – The sky is the limit on this one. Give the kids all the art supplies and let their imaginations run wild.
Pirate Day – Talk, dress, eat, and otherwise act just like a pirate all day. Rum for the parents after your little mateys hit the hay.
Make bird feeders– Use pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed. Hang them near the windows so you can watch your new feathered friends feast!
Establish family game night – Pick a night and time that everyone can come together. Make a special snack, and get those old board games out of the closet!
Yarn lasers – String yarn between four chairs or down the hallway in a laser pattern. Touch the yarn and you have to go back to the starting line!
Giant board game(could also be an outdoor activity!) – Make letter tiles out of cut up boxes and play Scrabble, spray paint Twister on your lawn, make a huge hopscotch with painter’s tape, etc.
Dance party – Kids are sitting are BORED, turn on the music and start busting out those moves!
Life size paper dolls– Have the kids lie on large sheets of newsprint or butcher paper and trace around them. They get to color in their faces, clothing, hair, etc.
Pet rocks – Collect the craziest looking rocks from outside. Paint them and decorate them, then name them!
I had eight or ten tomato cages that had been wandering around my yard for the past four years. Finally, I decided that enough was enough, and I put them all on the curb – except three. Those three I made into super cute, funky little light up trees!
Maybe some wire or twisties
Turn the tomato cage upside down. Bend the stakes inward so they make a point. Wrap the lights around the tomato cage. Secure lights with wire/twisties if necessary. Enjoy!
You could even make these and put them in your yard just for the holidays. I think I might leave mine up all year! They’ll make the deck so festive!
Kids are always looking for things to do, and we do not always have the desire, time, or patience to entertain them. This summer, I will be utilizing a popular trend, The Bored Jar. I am going to fill our Bored Jar with the following 50 activities that JI can complete with little to no assistance from Poke or me. As I stated in a previous post, this summer is going to be the summer of growing, and I plan on helping JI mature by giving him more responsibility and more trust. I want him to learn to be his own “man”, so to speak! Also, when it gets hot, I get suuuuuuuuuuper lazy. Not gonna lie.
Clean the bathroom floor
Work in workbook (or other skills activity, such as tracing letters)
Play on slip’n’slide
Wipe down all inside doors with magic eraser
Play in the sprinkler
Draw with chalk outside
Draw with chalk inside (if you have a chalkboard!)
Do 20 jumping jacks
Draw a picture for a friend
Put away laundry
Clean the toilet
Wipe down counters/tables
Read for at least 10 minutes
Go on a treasure hunt (make up lists in advance!)
Tell me a story
Play with bubbles
Run from A to B 10 times (ours would be deck to fence)
Build a fort
Make an alphabet list (candies A-Z, characters, boys/girls names, etc.)
Vacuum living room
Play with sibling(s)
Ride your bike
Swiffer the kitchen
Jump on the trampoline for 10 minutes
10 minute dance party
Do a puzzle
Play a board game
Play in the basement (or another room they rarely utilize)
Clean all the mirrors in the house
Have a picnic
Pick up all the trash/toys/miscellaneous stuff around the house
Wash the car
Feed the pets
Clean the bathtub
Draw a picture of your family
Watch a movie
Pick a new recipe for dinner from a kids’ cookbook
Play hide and seek
Learn a new kid-friendly recipe (no bake pie, PBJ, etc.)
Play dress up
Do a “photoshoot” – give your kid a disposable camera or clear out your digital cam and let them go crazy!
Spin in a circle until you fall over
Set up croquet or mini golf (or badminton or volleyball – use what you have!)
Oooooh lookit me bein’ all crafty! Hahaha! Actually this recipe is super easy – all it takes is patience, rubbing alcohol, and liquid food coloring.
JI loves playing with his rice bin. It’s just a big Gladware container, I think a gallon (?), with rice and scoops. Totally simple, totally free!!!
Here we go:
1# rice, divided into 7 bowls
Red, Yellow, and Blue liquid food coloring (note: if you don’t let your kid have artificial dye, you might want to use all natural dyes, but I cannot attest to the colorfastness or if it will even work the same)
After you divide your rice, add 2T rubbing alcohol to each bowl, and then use the following chart to make each color of the rainbow.
Red: 5 drops red
Orange: 2 drops red, 3 drops yellow
Yellow: 3 drops yellow
Green: 2 drops blue, 3-4 drops yellow
Blue: 3 drops blue
Purple: 3 drops red, 2 drops blue
(I left one bowl of plain white for the heck of it!)
After you’ve mixed the rice/alcohol/dye very well and all grains are completely coated, carefully (read: don’t touch!) pour each color onto a cookie sheet and let dry 24 hours. I put mine in the oven overnight, because I knew I wasn’t going to be cooking and it kept the rice away from the cats! Seriously though, DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON WITH THE RICE INSIDE because rubbing alcohol is flammable, and could potentially start a fire.
Okay so the next day, when the rice has dried completely, dump it all together into a lidded container and shake it up. Let junior go at it, and get ready to sweep when it is all over. *wink* Note: This rice is NOT edible! Watch your kids!