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Make a Paper Bag Scrapbook

to hold vacation goodies

Take two or three paper bags and fold them in half. Fasten them together in the center with a stapler (for small bags) or a piece of yarn, ribbon or string. Children can draw or paint pictures, write about things that they have seen or paste pictures from brochures or photographs of themselves on the pages. The open-ended bag pages can be used to hold postcards, fliers and brochures, photographs, travel schedules, ticket stubs, patches, or other memorabilia from summer vacations. Use brown shopping bags, lunch bags, colored bags or even gift bags with handles.

Car Travel Ideas

If you haven't yet succumbed to the car video player, here are some ways to keep children entertained while traveling in the car, Make lists of things you see. Write down the types of animals, license plates from different places, types of buildings or vehicles on the road. See how many different things you can find in whatever category you choose. Different players can watch out different sides of the car and compare what they have seen. You can also count things. See how many red cars, white trucks, buildings with more than 3 stories, hawks or dogs you can spot.


Play the Rhyme Game. Start with one simple word like "dog", and see how many rhyming words can be called out before you are "rhymed out". Choose a new word and repeat the process.


Play alphabet games. There are a number of variations. 1) Find something (outside of your vehicle) beginning with each letter of the alphabet (in order from A to Z).

2) Find alphabet letters, in order, on printed signs, license plates, billboards etc.

3) Play the alphabet word game. My name is A___, my husband's (or wife's) name is A____, we live in A___, and we like to eat A____. Fill in the blanks with words beginning with each letter of the alphabet in order. Players take turns with each taking the next letter. So it might be something like: My name is Alicia, my husband's name is Arthur, we live in Alabama and like to eat Artichokes.

Play with Maps



Learn to read a map and see the route you will be taking on a trip. Navigate while on the trip. Follow the map and note names of towns, rivers and other things you see. Look at route numbers and follow the route to and from your destination. Learn to understand the symbols used on maps. Learn to calculate the distance from one point on a map to another.


Draw your own map, perhaps a map of your neighborhood. List show your home, the homes of friends and your school, church, or favorite places. Make a map of a make-believe place. Make a map that goes along with a story you have read. Get on-line and look at your neighborhood and a map finder site.

Display Photos of Summer Fun

Take photos of summer fun. Get a disposable camera that children can use and spend some time taking photos of one another, places or things. Get them developed or put onto a disk and then use them for something fun. Put them on special "hello" cards for grandparents, other family members or friends. Make a simple family newsletter and tell everyone what you did over the summer. Put them in a scrapbook. Add captions. Make a summer fun collage to hang on the wall or a bulletin board.

Cool Things to do on a Hot Day



Make some salt dough (1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 tsp. oil and about 1/2-3/4 cup of water to make the dough workable.) Use a rolling pin, garlic press. cookie cutters, butter knife, fork and fingers to make creations of all sorts. Roll them up and use the dough again or air dry them for sculptures to save. (They can also be baked in a slow oven--but who wants to turn the oven on in August?!)

Make a "Magic Box" with fasteners, latches and all sorts of gadgets to keep busy in any season.

Collect Summer Bugs


Most kids like bugs! To collect bugs, check plants and other areas for harmless ones and put them into an unbreakable jar with a lid that has been prepared with air holes. The jar can also have some leaves, flowers, a sprinkling of water and maybe some tiny scraps of bread. Watch the bugs activities for a while. After observing and discussing the bugs, release them back into their familiar territory. It's not only fun but teaches respect for life...even if it's bugs.

watermelonphoto.JPG (84992 bytes)


Have a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest. (Kids will often do this on their own.) Save some seeds and plant them in time for watermelons for next year. Use a melon ball scoop to make melon balls and eat them. They are much more fun than ordinary pieces of watermelon. Carve you melon. Cut a melon in half and scoop out the red melon. Carve a design that goes through the green rind and exposes the white. Use it as a decorated melon bowl to hold fruit salad or berry sorbet.

Summer Collections

Collect patches or pins from places that you visit. Sew, iron-on, glue or pin them to a jacket, fishing vest, duffle bag or tote bag. Pins can also be attached to hats.


Collect rocks and identify them Label rocks with the location where they were found, and the date. Write the identity of the rock or mineral.


If you are visiting beaches, collect a small bottle of sand from each one and label the bottle with the location and date. Different beaches have different colors of sand. Tuck a few small shells from the beach in the sand before putting the lid on the bottle.

Play a Game of Toss

There are endless ways to play tossing games. Roll up socks and toss them into a laundry basket, box or big plastic bowl. (Get kids to help fold laundry and the reward is time to toss socks!) Toss a shuttlecock through a hoop. You can make one by tying some cotton balls in the center of a piece of scrap fabric. Use an empty cardboard box for a tossing game. Cut one or more holes in the box and draw, paint or paste a paper drawing on the box to make a target, clown's face or something similar. Toss beanbags, socks, balls or other things into the box. You can do the same thing by cutting holes out of a piece of cardboard and standing it up at an angle. Toss buttons, jelly beans or small stones into a muffin cup. Mark the cups with points written on slips of paper so that you can keep score. If you have an old sheet that's ready for the rag bag, cut some holes in it and hang it from a clothesline or other rope outdoors. Let the kids try to toss balls or water balloons through the holes.

Pan for Gold

There are places here in Arizona where you can pan for real gold, and often find garnet and other interesting things in the process. You rarely find more than a few flecks, but it's even fun for grown-ups. For young children, you can spray some rocks with gold paint and mix them with sand after the paint is dry. Put water in a container with the sand and rocks and give the kids pie pans. Put some sand mixture and water in a pan and swish it from side to side so that the lighter sand goes back into the container with the water and the heavier "gold" stays in the pie pan. Collect the "gold" and put it in a bag. You can also use iron pyrite (fool's gold). We've kept kids busy with the activity for extended periods of time! Follow-up by looking for rocks the next time you are out and about. Always watch children around water.


For a good time for younger children, spray paint some small rocks or pebbles with gold paint and mix them in with sand and water. Let the child take a pie pan and dip it into the sand and search for the "gold" nuggets.

Play in a Tent

Summer is a good time to escape to the woods, fields, backyard or wherever you can find a spot to set up a tent. Hike, eat outdoors, fish, look for rocks, bugs, wildflowers and critters. Look at birds with binoculars and listen to their songs. Get a star chart and identify constellations at night. (Look for Perseid meteor showers about the middle of the month.) Toss stones into the water or try to skip them across the top of lake or stream. Play games or read stories in the tent. Tell stories and sing songs around a campfire. Relax before the busy season begins.

No time for a picnic?

With schedules as busy as they are, the old fashioned family picnic is in danger of disappearing. Who has time to fry chicken like my mother used to do? Once in a while, on  a day that is a wee bit less chaotic, it's nice to pick up some fast food and eat in the the back yard or take it to a park. If can can swing by the grocery store before the drive through window, you could even pick up a watermelon and maybe a bag of marshmallows! That's practically an instant picnic! It's also a change of pace that's good for you and the rest of the family. Now just sit for a minute. Breathe in. Breathe out. Ahhhhhh. Now wasn't that great?












Put the FUN in Parenting!

Mother Lode

The Ultimate Collection of Ideas for Keeping Kids Busy

Over 5,000 Ideas for Tots through Teens

By Kas Winters 

USD $30.00

Summer is the season when children slam the doors they left open all winter.

Comfort on the Road

When you travel, think about your comfort. Take a travel pillow, a sweater if the air conditioning may be chilly in the vehicle, an umbrella or poncho if rain is a possibility. If you will be riding for a while, include a book, crossword puzzle, some stitchery or handwork, or something to pass the time (unless, of course, the scenery or conversation with other travelers is likely to be more entertaining!)


Want S'more?

To make a s'more, begin by toasting a marshmallow over a campfire. (Okay, in desperation, we've been known to use the kitchen stove.) If you hold it over hot coals and away from flames, it can become very soft and puffy and not burnt. This is the best way for a s'more. Take a graham cracker and break it in half to make two square pieces of cracker. Place a square of a chocolate bar on top of a graham cracker. When your marshmallow is toasted and soft, place it on top of the chocolate and squish the second piece of graham cracker on top to make a "sandwich". It tastes so good, you will want "s'more"--which is precisely how they were named. For variations, get some chocolate, butterscotch, mint or peanut butter chips and sprinkle them on the graham cracker or on top of the regular piece of chocolate.

Toast Marshmallows

If fire restrictions allow, have a campfire at a campsite, on the beach or in a bar-b-q grill in the backyard. Make your own marshmallow stick using a wire hanger. Straighten it out and then bend one end for a handle. Cover the handle portion with duct tape to insulate it and keep it from getting too hot. In addition to having plain marshmallows, you can, of course, add graham crackers and chocolate to make s'mores. (Another great way to enjoy marshmallows is to take a half of canned peach with a marshmallow in the center and sprinkle a little cinnamon on it. Wrap it all in two layers of aluminum foil and cook it on coals for about 10 minutes.) Always watch children around fire. Marshmallows are especially sticky when melted and can cause serious burns.

Experiment with BUBBLES

Blow bubbles and let children chase them or let them blow bubbles too. Use the bubble blowers you purchase at the store or make you own with wires. You can make interesting shapes of wire bubble blowers, but the bubble will still come out round! Wrap a rubber band around a few straws (maybe 6 or so). Dip one end of the straws in some bubble solution and blow through the other end for a bunch of bubbles at once. Pour some dish soap on a kitchen counter and add water. Place a straw in the soapy mixture on the counter and start to blow air through it. You can make some great bubbles this way. (Dawn  Detergent is especially good for making bubbles.)


Stay Cool in Water

Find a place to play in the water such as a pool, a lake, stream or even a bucket. Always watch children around water. Spray or sprinkle one another with a hose. Sit under misters. Practice swimming. Learn to snorkeling or even try scuba diving. Stay cool and have fun together as summer reaches its hot peak.

Get Ready for School

Decorate some folders to hold all of those school papers that come home daily once school begins. Make one for "Parent Papers" and others for children's papers as needed. Use colored file folders. Paste interesting pictures on them, draw pictures with markers or colored pencils or use decorator paints with nozzle applicators. Put them in a handy place where calendar and contact information are easily available for parents and children's papers "to save" don't stack up on the bedroom desk or floor.

Is a seashore trip in your summer plans? Either way you can travel with friends of a seahorse.


Make new friends

Cinnamon the Sea Horse

by Louise Garcia

Illustrated by Kas Winters

Making new friends

USD $10.00


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