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The weather is hot, the kids are bored and they are driving you completely crazy. The younger ones need lots of involvement to stay out of trouble, and the older ones could spend their entire day watching Netflix or YouTube. You need a diversion, stat! The trouble is that your summer bucket list was 90 percent complete by the end of the first week, and you need some new ideas. Check out this list for some fresh takes on summer favorites the whole family can enjoy!

1. Coffee Can Ice Cream

Boy, nothing screams “Summer!” louder than ice cream. However, unless you have an ice cream truck driver who makes you run a block before they stop, you usually don’t spend a ton of calories either preparing or eating the ice cream you make. Until today. Put together coffee can ice cream for a treat that takes hardly any time, requires no bowl to put in the freezer, and can be done by kids of virtually any age. This ice cream is cheaper than the ice cream truck and involves some fun movement in the process. In fact, this activity is so enjoyable and immediately rewarding that even toddlers can help out.
The premise is really quite simple. Get a big can and a small can. If you do not drink coffee, a big can of dried peaches or something similar will work. You just need a tight lid on both cans. Throw the ice cream ingredients into the small can and seal it tightly. Put the crushed ice and the rock salt into the big can along with the small can and seal it. At this point, the kids can roll it back and forth to each other. Look for a hill or even use a slide if the rolling gets too tiring for little kids. After 10-15 minutes, the ice cream should be frozen enough to serve. What a treat!

2. Spy School

Themed day camps are all the rage right now, but they can be quite expensive. $200-$300 for one week of camp for one kid? Madness! The good news is that you can totally create an awesome week of camp activities for your kids and their friends at home, without breaking the bank. Take spy school, for example. With some free printables, you can set up each kid with their own pass for training. The activities could be educational, showing children how to do the following:

  • make and use invisible ink
  • write in code and breaking codes
  • build marshmallow shooters for protection and distraction
  • pass through a spy-themed obstacle course
  • These tasks require following directions, collaboration, critical thinking and physical prowess. You can even keep it super simple by having children play “I Spy” around the house or the backyard as they learn to categorize and look for clues. The best part for you is that the entire time the kids are having fun and getting exercise, they are also learning new skills. Plus, you will not have to spend a week hearing about how bored they are.

    3. Backyard Drive-In Movie

    Outdoor movies are one of the most pleasant parts of summer. However, by the time you schlep all of your stuff to an overcrowded park and find yourself a spot, you are exhausted. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you could just do it at home? Of course, it would, and indeed you can. With an inexpensive outdoor movie screen and a few great backyard movie party ideas, you could host your favorite movies every week and create an entire summer’s worth of movie memories.
    Start by building some of the basics. Make the movie screen and get your hands on a projector (remember that some libraries may rent you one for free or very little money). If you want to make the perfect prop, get some old boxes, and have the kids cut and paint them to look like cars for the drive-in. After you have all of this set up, you and your family can make treats. Feel free to make it as simple as popcorn and soda, or go all out with hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream cones for everyone. You will enjoy this arrangement so much that after the kids are in bed, you might even want to sneak back out to watch the latest thriller or action movie.

    4. Water Obstacle Course at Home

    During the hot summer, the water parks are open and ready for business. The trouble is that they can be expensive and packed with people all day long. However, just running through a plain sprinkler in the yard is hardly nouveau or particularly exciting for the kids. You can find a great mix of the two by building your own water obstacle course at home. Stock up on slip and slides, pool noodles and PVC pipe to create the perfect DIY water park in your backyard.
    You can devise a system that works best for your kids, no matter their age. Drill holes in PVC pipe, connect them together and hook it up to your hose. It gives you a bigger sprinkler system that will spray the whole family, plus the neighbor kids when they come over to play. Build a pool noodle obstacle course that kids can climb and slide through. Hang water balloons from monkey bars on your play equipment to create a watery piñata experience. For older kids or to involve the whole family, set up a water balloon battlefield and divide the sides fairly, so each kid has a chance to win. By the end, your kids will be wet, cool and comfortable, without ever having to leave the backyard.

    5. Field Night

    Field days are very popular in the last weeks of school. Once you get to the middle of summer, however, a lot of outdoor activities are miserable because it is simply too hot during the day. But oh, those summer nights...Make a list of the perfect nighttime activities your family can do in your yard, at the park or even while camping. If you don’t have adequate light, make some. Add glow sticks to stuff you have around the house to play night bowling. Use plastic bats and glow-in-the-dark wiffle balls for a nighttime baseball extravaganza. Have the older kids and adults use pool noodles as bats for an additional challenge.
    You can even take advantage of some timeless nighttime summer activities to get your kids thinking about the way life was like for your parents or grandparents at their age. Grab a few mason jars and catch some interesting nocturnal bugs, or even fireflies. Pull out the flashlights and play Flashlight Tag with the younger kids. If you have a slightly prankish sense of humor, pass on the popular tradition of snipe hunting. At the end of the night, you can finish up by roasting marshmallows or making s’mores by the campfire and telling ghost stories.

    Build Summer Memories to Last a Lifetime

    There is still quite a bit of summer left, but it will be over before you know it. Although having the kids at home all the time can make you long for school days to arrive, you have a chance to build some excellent memories before you start shopping for pencils and backpacks. Take a few of these ideas and plan a time to put them into action. By the time summer is over, you and your kids will be exhausted, but you’ll all be content with the wonderful activities you did.