We are about halfway through summer, and it seems that the novelty of “awesome summer activities” has begun to wear off. Hours of playing with the hose, or drawing with chalk, or even blasting super-soakers is definitely less exciting today than it was a few weeks ago. To remedy this situation, I have come up with 4 fun summer activities, re-imagined.

Sand Volcanoes

If sand toys are losing their appeal, sand volcanoes can make playtime more exciting. Sand volcanoes are fairly easy to create, and can be repeated over and over – or until you run out of vinegar and baking soda!

Have your kids create a mountain of sand – we found that adding water to the sand really helped our sand mountains maintain their shape Press a crater into the center of the volcano – try to make it narrow and deep for better eruptions Place about 1 Tablespoon of baking soda into the crater Pour about 1/4 cup vinegar into the crater of your volcano Sit back and enjoy the sand volcano eruption! Repeat until you run out of supplies

**Tip: Add a drop or two of dish soap for an extra bubbly eruption!**

Washing Away Chalk Art

Creating chalk art is fun, but after time, kids may become bored with their chalk. Why not make washing away the chalk into a fun game? Cups of water, paintbrushes, and water guns can be used to wash away the chalk from your sidewalk, driveway, fence, deck, or wherever the chalk art might be.

**Tip: For very young children, you can just skip the chalk altogether, and let them “paint” the fence, driveway, etc. with a paintbrush and bucket of water**

Turn chalk cleaning into a game:

To avoid fights and hurt feelings, I create an equal sized chalk art drawing for each child. (Some kids might take offense if someone else were to wash away their art creation. Me, I don’t mind at all… and watching my children speed cleaning makes me especially happy!) Then, give each child their cleaning supplies: a cup of water, a paintbrush, and/or a water gun. When it is time to start, they can use their cleaning supplies to see who can wash away the chalk art first.

Super Soaker Blast

If your kids are tired of soaking each other with their water guns (and you are tired of hearing them fight about it), why not make a non-human target for their blasting fun? Put your super soaker aiming skills to the test with moving target practice.

Use a string, a straw and a balloon to create a target for super soakers, or make 2 targets and have a race!

Thread a fixed length of string (maybe 10-15 feet) through a plastic drinking straw. Affix both ends of the string between 2 solid objects – a tree, the deck, a chair, the fence, etc. Blow up a balloon, tie it, and tape it to the straw on the string. The balloon can move freely along the string, since it is attached to the straw. The moveable balloon target is now ready for action. Move the balloon to the start line (at one end of the string) When it is time for the race to begin, use your water gun to spray the balloon all the way to the other end of the string. This can be timed for the fastest to reach the other end, or you can make more than one moveable target for a side-by-side race.

**Tip: For an extra activity, try this! Inflate your balloon, but do not tie the end. Attach the inflated balloon to the straw with tape, holding on to the end of the balloon. When you release the end of the balloon, watch it fly across the string just like a zip-line!**

Water Play: Frozen Treasure Chest

At the beginning of the summer, all we needed was the hose, and maybe a sprinkler for some real excitement. Water fun at its simplest! Alas, by the end of the summer, I usually begin hear some whining and complaining when I suggest outdoor water play.

However, nothing can motivate my kids to get outside like the promise of frozen fun and hidden treasures. In this case, I freeze a large plastic container filled with water and goodies (think small, cheap plastic toys). Then, the kids get to break apart and melt the ice in order to reach the treasure. Here are the steps:

Make a large area available in your freezer so that the plastic container of your choice can fit inside. (This is the hardest step!) Fill a freezer-friendly container with a variety of cheap toys (new or old!) and water.  Freeze toy treasures in layers – you will want to make 3 or 4 layers so that toys will be stuck throughout the chunk of ice.

(First add a small layer of toys and water, then place in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Then, add another layer of toys and water on top of the frozen layer, and freeze again. So on and so forth.)

After completing all layers of toys and water, freeze the container overnight. The next day, remove it from the freezer and let it thaw for a bit, so you can slide the giant ice chunk out. Give the kids treasure hunting supplies, such as: water guns, the hose, paintbrushes, cups of water, (age-appropriate!) chiseling tools, etc. and let them get to work. After finding all of the treasures, the kids can divide and play with their newly discovered goodies, or the freezing process can begin again for the next day!

**Tip: if you do not have the time to freeze a large container, try a few small containers, like Solo cups. The freezing time will be much less.**

I hope you soak up all of the fun the rest of this summer has to offer, and enjoy these moments with your family!

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