Vacation Tips: Summer Boredom Busters
Ah, summer. School's out, and the days are long, lazy...and hot.
It's paradise--at least until the kids' midsummer chorus of "I'm bored!" begins. If you and your kids are struggling to find something to do, we've got thesolution!
You may not be able to escape to the beautiful Outer Banks for the entire summer, so hereare several indoor and outdoor boredom busters that’ll help you slow down, have some fun...and quickly solve the "there's nothing to do" problem.
Inside Boredom Busters
Not every day is picture perfect in the summertime, but there's plenty of fun to be had indoors. Here are some ideas guaranteed to provide plenty of funwhile indoors.
- Beach Themed Snack
Gather the following ingredients: goldfish crackers (fish), pretzel sticks (fishing rods), sprinkles (plankton), peanut butter (bait), M&ms (clams)and put them in individual bowls. Have your child go "fishing" for different sea life by dipping the pretzel stick in the peanut butter bait and seeingwhat they can catch!
- Sand or Sea?
This fun experiment will teach children the different habitats where different "beach" animals live! For this boredom buster you'll need a box ofgraham crackers, some water, 2 shallow pans or pie plates and some plastic/toy beach animals. Crush the graham crackers (so they look like sand) andput in one pan. Pour water in the other pan. Gather your beach animals and have the children decide where each animal lives - the sea or the sand?
- Food Art
Tired of drawing with crayons and building with blocks? Get creative and turn nature's bounty into a work of art. Cut up carrots, tomatoes, celery, orother fruits and vegetables, and help your child arrange the food into pictures on a large plate. The two of you can create a clown, train, or abeautiful piece of abstract art. You can use olives for eyes, round crackers for wheels, slices of cheese as windows — the possibilities are endless.And then the real fun begins: Eating your masterpiece!
- Bubble Magic
Bubbles are a blast whether you're 3 or 30. Make your own bubble solution by mixing one part dishwashing detergent with ten parts water, and a littleglycerin or corn syrup to make the bubbles hold. Your child can use almost any open-ended object to make bubbles, including the rings from a six-packof soda or a clothes hanger (with sharp ends bent back for safety). Try making bigger and bigger bubbles, but be careful he doesn't drink the solution!
- Living Room Campouts
Campouts are always fun, but the living-room variety has the added benefit of being temperature controlled and replete with carpet, cushions, and theall-important access to the kitchen and bathroom. Pitch a small pup tent, or make your own by placing blankets over carefully arranged furniture. Thenpull out the sleeping bags, pillows, flashlights, and s'mores for a real camping experience. The "tent" can stay up for as long as you want, making iteasy for you and your child to go camping anytime.
- Homemade Ice Pops
Nothing cools you down on a steamy summer afternoon like a frozen pop — especially one you made just a few hours before. The following recipe can beused to fill either store-bought plastic ice pop molds (available at most department stores) or plain old paper cups (the smallest size works best).Here's a trick for the latter: to keep your craft stick handles centered in the pop, cover the cups with aluminum foil and insert the craft sticksthrough the covering. If using plastic molds, briefly run the mold under hot tap water to remove the pop.
- 1 small package flavored gelatin
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1-1/3 cups cold water
- Mix the gelatin and sugar in a bowl. Add the boiling water (adults only) and stir until the mixture is dissolved. Stir in the cold water.
- Pour into molds or cups and freeze for about 4 hours. Fills 6 ice pop molds or about 10 small paper cups.
- Ice-Cream Sandwiches
- 2 cups (475 mL) of your favorite ice cream or frozen yogurt
- 8 large cookies
- Recommended cookie/ice cream combos:
- Chocolate cookie/mint chocolate chip ice cream
- Peanut butter cookie/chocolate ice cream
- Vanilla cookie/strawberry ice cream
- Chocolate chip cookie/vanilla ice cream
- Let ice cream sit out for ten minutes.
- Top four cookies with 1/2 cup (120 mL) ice cream.
- Top each one with another cookie to form ice cream sandwiches!
- Wrap the four cookies in plastic or wax paper and freeze until firm.
- Break out these ice cream-filled sandwiches for dessert on a hot night.
Water Fun Boredom Busters
When temperatures soar, water play is a guaranteed good time for kids. Whether they're playing in a pool or simply having fun in the backyard, kidswill go wild for these cool and fun summer games.
- Bucket Blast
For this game, you need two or more children. Each child or team will need a bucket of water, an empty bucket and a paper cup. The first childfills the cup with water from the full bucket and runs with it to the empty bucket to pour their water into it. Both children (or teams) continueuntil they empty the original bucket of water and fill the second bucket. The child or team with the most water in the bucket wins. For even morefun, cut a quarter-sized hole in each cup and get the kids to plug it using their fingers or by placing it on their heads while they run to fillthe bucket.
- Butterfinger Ball
This one is played in the shallow end of a pool. Butter each child's hand with suntan lotion and then wet a large beach ball, says Penny Warner,author ofSplish Splash: Water Fun for Kids (Chicago Review Press). The kids throw a ball back and forth to each other and have a fungiggly time trying to hold on to it.
- Tug of War
Grab a skipping rope or backyard hose and get the kids to hang on to each end. (With more than two children, divvy them up by strength or size,with an even number on each side.) Place the middle of the hose over a running sprinkler. Laughs will ensue as they tug on the hose and pull eachother back and forth into the water.
- Water Limbo
Hold a hose horizontally with the water on full force; place your thumb partway into the stream so it jets into a straight line. Each child takes aturn walking under the water. Keep lowering the height of the water limbo line. The winner is the one who makes it under the water at the lowestlevel without touching it. The losers will be all wet, of course.
- Water Ball
Players use homemade plastic scoops (just cut the bottom off an empty milk or water jug and cover the edge with tape) to catch and throw a waterballoon back and forth until it bursts.
- Balloon Blast
Supply each child with an inflated balloon and a spray bottle filled with water. The object of this game is to keep your balloon in the air thelongest by squirting it repeatedly with water.
Fun in the Sun (Backyard) Boredom Busters
Sooner or later, kids get bored with a backyard game of hide-and-seek, and then it's Seaside to the rescue! With just a few minutes of planning,you can keep the kids active - and entertained - in fun, out-of-the-ordinary ways all summer long!
- Relay Races
You'll need four to six players, so you may want to invite the neighbors over. Split the group into two teams for a tag relay, says Harden. Butinstead of just running back and forth, make the challenges a little more interesting with multiple steps. For example, each person could startwith step one: build a model rocket. Then they run to the designated spot to do step two: sing the family's favorite song. Next they run to atable for step three: eat a cookie. Once the player completes all his tasks, he passes the baton to the next person who then follows the samesteps. The first team to have all their players complete the challenge wins.
- Scavenger Hunt
Your child can do this activity alone, with a friend or in teams, says Lisa Hall, director of the Eastern Start School Age Program in Oriskany,N.Y. Give your child a list of items to find in nature, such as a rock, dandelion, leaf or something a bird would eat. Have the kids drawpictures of what they find and finish the hunt by tallying up how many things they ticked off the list.
- Backyard Bowling
Find household items that will tumble over easily, such as empty cereal boxes, empty soda cans and small stuffed toys and align them in a rowlike bowling pins, suggests Warner. Then, using a smaller ball for older kids and a bigger ball for the young ones, have the children roll theball. They score a point for each object they knock down..
- Body Painting
Have your children put on their oldest swimsuits, then go out to the yard and use their imaginations. Grab hold of non-toxic tempera paints,fingerpaint, or foaming bath paints and create colorful pictures on each other. Kids can take turns drawing shapes on each others' backs andthen guess what was drawn. Draw a bull's eye on a tummy and try to hit the target (and wash it off) with a water squirt bottle. Use sponges orleaves dipped in paint to make prints on shoulders and legs. After your kids have covered as much skin as possible, get out the hose andwashcloths and scrub their "canvases" clean—but not before taking memorable photos of each human masterpiece.
As summer rolls around, you can look forward to months of sun and surf, pools and popsicles, camp and cookouts. And classic summer movies!Slather on your sunscreen, freshen up your lemonade, and check out our list of wonderful movies all about summer.
- American Graffiti (PG, 1973)
Hollywood loves nostalgic movies, and George Lucas’ film takes place in the 1950s on the last day of summer, following a group ofteenagers in their adventures before they leave for college. With heavyweights such as Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Mackenzie Phillipsand Harrison Ford, this is a must-see for any teenager heading off to college.
- The Bad News Bears(PG, 1976)
Looking for a fun family film? The original Bad News Bears has misfit kids, a washed up baseball player and a wacky team that actuallyturns around.
- Charlotte's Web (G, 2006)
Charlotte’s Web is a family movie based on the classic book, with an all-star cast, including Julia Roberts, Dakota Fanning, OprahWinfrey, and Robert Redford.
- Dirty Dancing (PG13, 1987)
The summer romance between Baby and Johnny Castle is a favorite among many. We could save you from the multitude of cliched quotesDirty Dancingdelivers, but where’s the fun in that? Instead we’ll end with this—when you watch this movie, you’ll have thetime of your life.
- The Endless Summer (PG, 1966)
A classic documentary about surfers in search for the perfect wave, The Endless Summer transports viewers around the world tosome of the most beautiful oceans and sunny, sandy beaches.
- Grease (PG13, 1978)
Before High School Musical, Grease was the word. Tweens and teens will enjoy bopping along with Danny, Sandy and the gang watching thisclassic film.
- Hoot(PG, 2006)
In the movie Hoot, an unlikely group of kids work together to save habitat belonging to some feathered friends.
- Jaws (PG, 1975)
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel is considered the father of the summer blockbuster. But perhaps the realmastermind of Jaws is composer John Williams, who, with only two notes, managed to instill fear in every audience member.
- National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
Our favorite family man, Clark Griswold, and his family road-trip to an amusement park in California for the great American Vacation.It’s Chevy Chase. It’s funny. Watch it.
- Now and Then (PG13, 1995)
The Stand By Me for girls, Now and Then brings together four women who were childhood friends. Demi Moore narratesthe film, as they reminisce about the summer of 1970—a summer of discovery that changed their lives.
- The Parent Trap (G, 1961)
Hayley Mills plays twins who, unknown to their divorced parents, meet at a summer camp. Products of single parent households, theyswitch places (surprise!) so as to meet the parent they never knew, and then contrive to reunite them.
- The Sandlot (1993)
You're killing me Smalls! The epitome of summer as a kid—complete with swimming pools, cute lifeguards, s’mores, treehouses, and, ofcourse, baseball—The Sandlot touches on childhood memories of both boys and girls alike.
- Summer Magic(G, 1963)
Summer Magic is a nostalgic classic that brings Disney favorite Hayley Mills from Boston to rural Maine to start a new life. A lovelyfamily movie.
- Surf's Up (PG, 2007)
Looking for a fun family movie kids will love? A heartwarming tale of a young Penguin's quest to become more than a fish factory workerwill have them glued to the set. It's especially good for kids between six and 10.