Regardless of where you live, you’re bound to have a few sunny days in the coming months, and when those days come, your kiddos will be champing at the bit to throw on their swimsuits and spend a few hours frolicking in the summer sun. Instead of heading to your go-to swim spot, try mixing things up with some creative ways to beat the heat in your own backyard. So stow away the inflatable pool and the shriveled up water balloons–these activities will give your little ones hours of fun without the mess or the lightheaded-ness.

1. Ice Treasure Chest – Put some favorite toys, and if you’re feeling brave some food coloring, in a bowl of water and freeze it overnight. In the morning your kids will love trying to chip their toys out of the “treasure ice chest” you’ve created.

2. Summer Obstacle Course – Sure your kids have experienced water play, but never like this. Set up a water obstacle course around your back yard. Start with them slip and sliding their way across the main “race way”, next have them grab a “treasure” out of the wading pool before heading to a bucket full of water and bobbing for apples. Next have them jump through a few lawn dart hoops in a row before coming back through the slip-n-slide for a spectacular finish. Want to up the ante? Time each kid to see who’s fastest on the course.

3. Stiff Competition – Here’s a fun way to get kids to cool down during the hottest days, have them race to see who can get a frozen T-shirt on first. Water down several T-shirts and fold them before putting them in the freezer overnight. The next day, enjoy the chaos as the kids do whatever it takes to unfreeze their shirt and get it on fastest. First one to get it over his or her head and through the arm holes wins.

4. Summer Snowball Fight – Grab homemade snow from your favorite specialty store or find it online. Help your kids whip up homemade snow in a few buckets and engage in a good old snowball fight in the middle of July!

5. Balloon Bonanza – Blow up a dozen balloons and arm the neighborhood kids with water guns. Challenge each child to keep their balloon off the ground using only the squirts from their water gun. The last balloon in the air is the winner.

6. Ice Boats or Princess Towers – Freeze water in milk jugs in order to create ice blocks. When frozen, use the blocks to make princess towers or race the “ice boats” in a wading pool.

7. Play “Hose” Limbo – Using a broomstick for limbo is so yesterday! This summer grab the hose and let the stream of water be your guide. Put on a rousing CD and line each kid up as the hose stream gets lower and lower to the ground.

8. “Paint” the House and Fence – Bust a move like Huckleberry Finn and set out an assortment of water buckets, paint brushes and sponges. Ask the kids to repaint your house and fence using water.

9. Make a Homemade Water Wheel – Have your kids help you poke a hole in the bottom of each of the four corners of a paper milk carton. Punch a hole through the top flap of the milk carton and tie a string through it. Next, have little hands cover each hole on the bottom as you fill the carton with water from the garden hose. When ready, hold the milk carton by the string (or hang it from a tree branch) and have your helpers release their holes. Enjoy the “spray” of water as the milk carton twists and turns from the rush of water.

10. Clamming for Marbles – Dump marbles in a wading pool, with or without sand, and have your kids “clam” for them by grabbing the marbles between their toes and dropping them in a bucket. The one with the most marbles added to their bucket wins.

How do you plan to “be­at the heat” with your kids this summer?

— Laurie Halter

 Photo courtesy of MiikaS, Merinda Gray, Roby Ferrari, Devin, Sharon Mollerus, and pawpaw67 via flickr.


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