Posts Tagged ‘summer fun’

June 25th, 2012

11 Water Games and Summer Activities for Kids

Courtesy of: 

If you are trying to beat the heat this summer, here are some great activities to cool you and your family off.

  • Jump Water. Run a strong stream from a garden hose back and forth like a snake under your child’s feet, allowing him to jump over it. With more kids, turn it into a competition: Whoever’s feet don’t get drenched wins!
  • Liquid limbo. Use the stream from a water hose as the stick for a high-stakes game of limbo. 
  • Backyard Bath. Take advantage of a warm summer evening by bathing your baby (and older siblings if they’re game!) outdoors. Fill a kiddie pool with water, bath toys, and bubbles, and turn a chore into a delight.11 water games and summer activities for children
  • Sponge-worthy. Give each of your kids two buckets — one filled with water and one empty — and a sponge. Instruct them to transfer the water from one bucket to the other using only the sponge. Whoever does it the fastest gets first choice of ice-pops. Solo kids can also play by racing against the clock.
  •  Spray of light. Little tykes can help you garden by watering plants with a spray bottle; give bigger guys the whole hose (and expect them to get wet!). If it’s a sunny day, show them how they can spot a rainbow in the mist.
  •  Ball blast. Use ropes to create a circle or square on your lawn. Place balls of varying sizes and weights inside. Give your child a hose and challenge her to push the balls out with the water in less than a minute.
  • Balloon babies. Fill up a water balloon and draw a face on it with a dark marker. Wrap it in a paper towel, then hand your child (ages 4 and up) his new “baby.” See how long he can take care of it before it breaks.
  • Water-gun tag. This clever twist on a classic is pretty self-explanatory: Have everyone don bathing suits and play tag. Whoever is “It” gets the water gun and tries to tag the other players with a cold squirt!
  • Freeze! Place plastic bugs, toy cars, or other small treasures in your cube tray, add water, and freeze. Then hand a piece of ice to your child (age 3 and up) and have her melt it in her hands until the prize emerges.
  • Pool ping-pong. Float an inner tube in the center of the pool, then toss a bunch of ping-pong balls in the water. Kids who know how to swim unassisted can jump in, retrieve the balls, and try to toss them in the tube.
  • Drink up. Encourage your child to try water flavored with different ingredients. Include slices of cucumber, lemon, lime, orange, and various berries (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry) — and see which one she likes best.

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

June 11th, 2012

Cheap or Free Summer Fun For Kids

Cheap or Free Summer Fun for Kids - Operation SantaHow to find free and cheap things for kids to do this summer.

The school year is at an end and many parents are faced with the same dilemma they faced last year, but more than likely with less available money to spend on outings and vacations. The good news is that there are plenty of fun, free and cheap resources available for the enterprising parent.

Go online and check with your local library and parks department.

  • Many libraries offer summer reading clubs where your children can earn prizes while maintaining those important reading skills.
  • Many towns and cities run day camps in the local park where your children can take part in sports and arts and crafts for free, or for a small fee.
  • Don’t forget our nations wonderful National Parks where you can take guided tours and sneak a bit of history into your summer outings.

Local industries may offer free tours. For instance in my town, there is a wonderful bread company that gives amazing tours of their facility. And it smells wonderful! Go here for a free list of factory tours in the United States. You can also check with Lowe’s and Home Depot to see when they are hosting free make-and-take craft events.

50 Free or Cheap Things to Do With Kids

By Cameron Huddleston, Contributing Editor,

Plant a garden. My kids love planting seeds in the spring and watching them grow through the summer.

Have a water balloon fight. Let the kids toss water balloons at each other or you. My youngest daughter loves the chance to soak her dad.

Go bowling. The Kids Bowl Free program allows kids to play two free games a day at participating bowling centers.

Watch birds. My friend and her two sons take their binoculars and a book of their state’s native birds to the backyard and try to identify as many birds as possible.

Create a water park in the backyard. Turn on the sprinkler, fill the baby pool, get out the Slip ‘N Slide and let the kids have fun cooling off on a hot day.

Take a bubble bath outside. If the kids are tiring of the inflatable pool, make it fun again by filling it with bubbles — and tossing small toys in for them to find under all the foam.

Visit the public library. Public libraries often offer free summer reading programs that include workshops, movies, children’s theater, puppet shows and more. Or just check out how-to books so you and your kids can learn something new together.

Start a book club. Create a summer reading list for your kids, then discuss the books after they read them. Invite their friends to participate, too.

Listen to a concert in park. Many cities have free summer concert series during the day or evening.

Go to a museum. If you have a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, you can get a free ticket on the first Saturday of every month to 150 participating museums (in 31 states). Check out the Bank of America Museums on Us program for more details. Also check with museums in your hometown to see if they offer any freebies for kids.

Participate in a workshop. Home Depot has free workshops for kids ages 5 to 12 on the first Saturday of every month between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Kids make a craft they can keep. Kids can build a wooden project at Lowe’s free kids clinics on weekends.

See free or cheap movies. Many theaters have free or cheap ($1 to $2) showings of family-friendly movies on weekday mornings. Check the Web sites of theaters in your city. Many advertise their summer movie programs on their homepage. Otherwise, check the site’s specials or values page.

Make a movie with your video recorder, smart phone or iPad. If your computer came with free movie-editing software (most do), upload the video and add special effects to it.

Stage a play. If you’re not technically inclined or don’t have movie-making equipment, encourage the kids to create a play instead.

Be Jackson Pollock (the artist known for his drip/splatter painting). Grab a large piece of material, sheet or canvas and let the kids splatter it with paint outside.

Pitch a tent in the backyard and roast hot dogs and marshmallows if you have a fire pit (or on the grill).

Collect bugs. Send the kids out at night with jars to catch (and release) lightning bugs, or let them search for creepy crawlies during the day.

Take a hike along nature trails or at a nearby forest.

Play in a creek. Our daughters loved wading and catching tadpoles in a creek that runs through a public park in our county so much that they asked to go back the next day.

Have a scavenger hunt. Hide items in your house or yard, then give the kids a list of the items and see who can find them the fastest.

Create comic books, then share them with the family.

Make a cardboard box house and let the kids decorate it with paint or markers. My kids spend hours in their box house.

Build a fort. If you don’t have a big box, build a fort with sheets and blankets instead.

Invent something using old parts or things from around the house that you don’t need.

Decorate windows with washable window markers.

Set up a spa. Paint your kids’ nails, do their hair and apply makeup — or let them provide spa services to you.

Visit the fire station. My kids loved visiting the fire station, where fire fighters would let them sit in their big fire engines and load them up with stickers, coloring books and more.

Conduct a science experiment. My kids never seem to tire of the science experiments their dad conducts (even the simple “volcano” made with baking soda, vinegar and food coloring). So pick up a book on kid-friendly science experiments at the library or bookstore and amaze your children.

Launch a rocket. Probably the best $15 we spent was on the Stomp Rocket, which has four foam rockets kids can propel into the air by stomping on a launch pad. Whenever my children’s friends visit, they compete to see who can send the rockets the farthest down the hallway.

Bake. Let the kids help you make cookies, a cake, anything. We fill plastic condiment dispensers with pancake batter and let kids create shapes in the frying pan (we do the flipping).

Go on a picnic. A meal is more fun on a blanket in the park, woods or even the backyard.

Fly a kite after your picnic (or anytime there’s a good breeze).

Create obstacle course in the backyard and let the kids race.

Visit a construction site. For little boys (or girls) who love hammering, sawing and big machines, let them be mesmerized by all the action at a construction site.

Have a dance party. Play your kids’ favorite tunes and let them boogie.

Play in rain. The kids will love the chance to do something that’s taboo.

Have a tea party. Pull out those fancy silver trays or plates you never use (or stick with plastic for toddlers), pile on some cookies and treats, and get dressed for high tea.

Participate in nature programs. City park systems that have nature centers usually offer free programs for children that let them explore the outdoor world.

Play hide and seek. Its’ a favorite at our house, and you can do it indoors or outdoors.

Build ice castles. Freeze water in plastic containers of various sizes then let the kids take the ice blocks outside and create castles with them.

Play charades. My family played this when I was a teen, and we’d try to come up with impossibly difficult things to act out. If you have an iPad, download the free Charadium app — it’s loads of fun.

Have an egg toss, then hose the kids down after (if your kids are squeamish, avoid this activity).

Visit a pet store. Think of it as a mini petting zoo. Just warn the kids before you go that you won’t be bringing home a pet (unless you actually want to). You also could take the kids to the humane society, which might need volunteers to walk the dogs.

Take a trip to the dollar store. My sister used to take my kids to the dollar store for a little math lesson. She would tell them how much they could spend, and they had to find items that didn’t exceed that amount.

Make instruments. Rainsticks are easy to assemble by filling a paper-towel tube with rice and crumpled wiring (or something to make the rice move slower) and covering the ends with paper and tape. Or get really creative and create enough instruments for an entire band, as these Florida high-school students did with items found in the trash (see ‘The Garbage Men’ Rock a Trashy Sound)

Learn a language. Check with your public library to see if offers free programs online. Or visit YouTube and type in, for example, Spanish lessons.

Travel the world without leaving home. Learn about other countries (using Wikipedia) and make their traditional meals (with help from the kids) for dinner.

Create a driving obstacle course with orange cones for teen drivers and award them points for accuracy (not speed).

Look at the stars. You can download an app that helps you identify constellations — or check out a book from the library. If there’s an observatory or planetarium in your town, see if it offers free shows.

Teach your kids money skills. See Kiplinger’s Editor Janet Bodnar’s list of games, Web sites and books that teach personal finance.


August 19th, 2011

End of Summer Activities

End of Summer Activities for Kids from Operation Letter to SantaSummer is not quite over, being that it is only mid-August, but the school year begins soon, effectively spelling the end of long lazy summer days for most kids. Try these nine family activities for an exciting end to your summer.

1. Make a memory book. Have everyone in the family get together and make a memory book or scrapbook. Collect photos from your summer or other scraps and artwork that would fit into a book of memories. This will give you a lasting memento of the good times you had over the summer.

2. Have a splashing good time. The summer usually means a good time around water. Throw a pool party or play around in the sprinklers. Have a water balloon fight with your family. Involve water while you still can, before the cold days of winter arrive.

3. Make summertime recipes. Pick out your favorite summertime recipes and make food and drinks with your family. Start with drinks like iced tea and lemonade, or pick another family favorite that you associate with summer. Then, make summer treats or throw a barbeque.

4. Throw a summer party. Get together with your family and throw an end of the summer bash for all of your friends. Your family can plan the party together, cook the food and make decorations. Take lots of photos of your party so you can remember the good time you had.

5. Go to the zoo. Summer is a great time to enjoy the zoo during your free time. Go to the zoo with your family one last time before school takes away much of that free time. It’s also a great way to learn about many different kinds of animals.

6. Play video games. Video games can be fun for the whole family. Some game consoles even have games that’ll get the whole family active. Choose a sports game, a family board game or a racing game and compete against your family for an exciting time together.

7. Go to the beach. The end of the summer might be one of your last opportunities to hit the beach this year. Wear sunscreen to protect your skin. Bring plenty of towels and beach toys. Build a sand castle with your kids. Bury one of your family members in the sand.

8. Get ready for school. Enjoy getting ready for the school year with your family. Find the fun in shopping for clothing and school supplies. Get the whole family involved. Allow your kids to make some of the clothing decisions and to pick out some of their favorite school supplies.

9. Relax at home. Enjoy some quiet time at home before the craziness of the school year starts. Order takeout and talk around the dinner table. Rent some family friendly movies to enjoy while you beat the heat together.

Pick one of these, or come up with your own end of summer activity ideas. The most important thing is that you take the time to enjoy your family. The end of summer can be an exciting time for your family to bond and experience priceless memories.

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

August 18th, 2011

When Kids Don’t Want To Play Outside

Mom, It’s Too Hot!

Hula-Hoop and other fun outdoor activity tips from Operation Letter To SantaKids… gotta love ’em. But sometimes they can make you want to pull your hair out, as every mom knows. In the winter, it’s too cold to go outside. In the summer, it’s too hot. What’s a mom to do? Actually, you can encourage your kids to get outside and enjoy some simple summer exercises by making them fun and a family fitness event.

The joy of summer fitness activities is that you really don’t need a lot of equipment, planning, or preparation. You can always go for a long walk on the beach, a hike in the woods, or a few laps around the block.

Or take a swim. If you don’t have a pool in your backyard, take a trip to the lake or beach if there’s one nearby. Or drop by a community pool. While it’s not as private as your own home, you can have a lot of fun and still get in some good exercise swimming laps, racing the kids from end to end or side to side, or just jumping around in the water doing your own thing.

Other water exercises are great for summer. You can stay cool while getting in some family fitness time. Consider water skiing and build up those leg muscles, water volleyball, or underwater scavenging contests where everyone takes turns swimming to the bottom of the pool to find a “lost” object.

Dust off the bicycles and take a long ride around town, or strap a picnic lunch on the back and head over to the park for an afternoon playing on the swings and merry-go-round. Don’t forget the monkey bars, which are great for building the muscles in your arms and developing strength, or the slide which is just plain fun!

Dig out your old hula hoop and teach the kids to use it. Remember how much fun you had swinging and swaying to keep that thing from hitting the floor? That’s a tremendous way to exercise your whole body! And the kids will love it, too. They’ll not only have a blast laughing at your antics, but of course, they’ll want to prove they can do it better so the whole family will get a great workout.

Frisbee is a fun way to spend an afternoon as well. If the kids aren’t home, or aren’t interested, get the dog involved. They love chasing the disc, and many of them are better than humans at catching it.

Like to skate? In-line skating is good exercise for everyone in the family. Skates are relatively inexpensive, you can even find them at yard sales at times, and some communities offer rentals places, so check around. If your town has a bike trail or greenbelt, chances are you can find other skaters enjoying the ride and getting some good exercise in the process.

Whatever you like to do, summer is a great time to be outdoors, playing with the kids, and having fun—all in the name of family fitness! Sure, you’ll sweat, but why pay a gym for that privilege when you can sweat for free in your own backyard or neighborhood?

Visit Operation Letter To Santa

snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake snowflake