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Enjoy some great outdoor activities before the summer season is over! Fly a kite, build a bug house, and have a backyard camp-out with s'mores, sing a longs, and more!

Make a Kite to Fly!

All you need is 2 sheets of newspaper, colored paper- including one large sheet, kite string, fabric scraps, glue, tape, markers, and a slight breeze!

Fold one sheet of newspaper in half, and roll it up tightly to make a pole. Tape it at both ends and in the middle. So the same with the other piece of newspaper. Make a cross with the 2 poles, and tie them together in the middle.

Now take the string, and, beginning at one end of one of the poles, wrap and tape string around each of the four ends, to form a kite shape. Lay the kite frame on top of the large piece of paper, and trace- making your tracing a bit larger than the kite frame.

Cut out the kite shape, and then cut off each of the four pointed corners. Use crayons, markers, colored paper and glue to decorate your kite. Lay the kite frame on the back of the kite cutout. Fold the paper over the string on one side of the kite. Tape it down. Repeat this with the other 3 sides. Add a string and a tail made out of fabric scraps- and go fly your kite!

Make A Bug House!

Collecting bugs is a classic summer activity- and one that can be done just about anywhere! Here's how to make a temporary home for your collection.You'll need a tape measure, fine mesh screen, 2 tuna cans (empty and washed), wire and glue.

Here's what you do:
1. Measure the outside of a tuna can by wrapping a ribbon around it, marking it where the ends meet, and then using a ruler to see how long the length of ribbon is.

2. Add one inch to your measurement, and then cut a rectangle out of screen using this measurement for one side and five inches for the other.

3. Wrap the screen around the inside on one of the tuna cans, so that it fits snugly. Lace the overlapped edges together with a 12" piece of wire. Knot the wire at the bottom edge.

4. Fit the screen into the tuna can and glue in place.

5. Loop the remaining wire over the top and attach it to the other side for a handle.

6. Use the other can for the other end of the bug barracks & go hunting!

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Have a Backyard Camp-Out!

Kids love camping in the great outdoors, and although a trip to Yosemite would be great- you can enjoy a super camping experience in your own backyard! Pick a night when the whole family can take a break from the usual routine. Turn the answering machine on and declare the house off-limits. Then, pitch a tent in your yard or drape a tarp over a clothesline for shelter, and pile sleeping bags or blankets inside. You can even build a safe campfire in a portable grill or hibachi for roasting marshmallows!

When everyone's had his fill, strike up a round of campfire songs or storytelling. And don't forget to help your kids search the sky for the Big Dipper, Little Bear and other favorite constellations. Although stargazing is best on dark, moonless nights, you might consider camping out under a full moon-when nature's own night-light can take some of the spookiness out of the enterprise.

Here are just a few ideas to make your backyard camp-out great!


Luminarias, or candle lanterns, can lend an extra glow to your special camp out! To create a classic luminaria, nest a candle in a small brown paper bag, half filled with sand. For a stained-glass effect, glue colored tissue paper over cutouts in the bag. Or make a luminaria out of an empty soda can using the directions that follow.

You'll need: an empty soda can, marker, craft knife, pencil, a votive candle, small screw-in hook, 20-inch wooden dowel, & thin wire for hanging.

First, draw two lines around the can, the first 1 inch down from the top of the can and the second 1 inch up from the bottom of the can. Using the craft knife (an adult's job), make straight cuts between the top and bottom lines 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart. Once you've cut all the way around the can, make a cut across the bottom of two adjacent strips to create an opening for the candle. Wearing gloves, carefully pull the two strips away from the can.

Next, use the pencil to bend out the remaining strips, while slightly pressing the top of the can so it has a squatty, Chinese lantern-like shape. Pass the candle through the opening and use a drop of melted wax to attach it to the bottom of the can. Next, bend the two cut strips and tuck them into place inside the can. Screw the hook into one end of the wooden dowel. To hang, loop a length of wire between the hook and the circular opening on the soda can tab.

Kid's Trail Mix

Mix up the following ingredients in a large ziplock bag to make this classic camping snack: 4 cups of Chex cereal, 1/2 cup of dried fruit bits, 1/2 cup of raisins, 1/2 cup of peanuts, and 1/2 cup of M & Ms.

Recommended Camp-Out Books:

"Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping" by Peggy Parish
"Arthur's Camp-Out" by Lillian Hoban
"Berenstain Bears go to Camp" by Stan Berenstain
"Curious George Goes Hiking" by Margaret Rey and Alan J. Shalleck
"Camping In The Mountains" by Lucille Wood


Mmmmm! These tasty treats are a must for any camp-out! You'll need graham crackers, chocolate bars, marshmallows, sticks or skewers, and a bbq, grill or campfire.

First, place a piece of chocolate on top of a graham cracker. Then, roast a marshmallow by piercing it with your skewer and holding it over the flame. When it is cooked to your liking, place it on top of the chocolate, put another cracker on top of the marshmallow, and squeeze the crackers together so that the marshmallow is stuck between the crackers and chocolate. Pull out your skewer. Enjoy your s'more carefully- the marshmallow might be very hot!

Sing-A-Long Camping Tunes

Another must for any camp-out is the classic campfire sing-a-long! Need a "fire" to gather around? Just get some bright red, yellow and orange tissue paper sheets, crumple loosely, and stack in a small circle. Now you're ready to sing!


In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine
Lived a miner, forty-niner, and his daughter Clementine
Oh my darling, Oh my darling
Oh my darling Clementine
You are lost and gone forever
dreadful sorry, Clementine
Light she was, and like a fairy, and her shoes were number nine
Herring boxes without topses, sandals were for Clementine
Drove she ducklings to the water every morning just at nine
Hit her foot against a splinter,fell into the foaming brine
Ruby lips above the water, blowing bubbles soft and fine
Alas for me! I was no swimmer, so I lost my Clementine
In a churchyard near the canyon, where the myrtle doth entwine
There grow roses and other posies, fertilized by Clementine
Then the miner, forty-niner, soon began to peak and pine
Thought he oughter join his daughter, now he's with his Clementine
In my dreams she still doth haunt me, robed in garments soaked in brine
While in life I used to hug her, now she's dead I draw the line
How I missed her, how I missed her, how I missed my Clementine
Until I kissed her little sister, and forgot my Clementine
Now ye Scouts all heed the warning to this tragic tale of mine
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would have saved my Clementine

Coming of the Frogs
(to the tune of Battle Hymn of the Republic)

Mine eyes have seen the horror
of the coming of the frogs
They are sneaking through the swamps
they are lurking under logs
You can hear their mournful croaking
through the early morning fog
The frogs keep hopping on
Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, croak, croak
Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, croak, croak
Ribbit, ribbit, ribbit, croak, croak
The frogs keep hopping on
The frogs have grown in numbers
and their croaking fills the air
There's no place to escape to
'cause the frogs are everywhere
They've eaten all the flies
and now they're hungry as a bear
The frogs keep hopping on
I used to like the bullfrogs
like to feel their slimy skin
Liked to put them in my teacher's desk
and take them home again
You can hear their mournful croaking
through the early morning fog
The frogs keep hopping on

Down by the Old Mill Stream

Down by the old (not the new, but the old)
Mill stream (not the river but, the stream)
Where I first (not last, but first)
Met you (not me, but you)
With your eyes of blue (not green, but blue)
Dressed in gingham too (not three, but too)
You were sixteen (not six, but sixteen)
My village queen (not king, but queen)
Down by the old (not new, but the old)
Mill stream (not the river, but the stream)

Flashlight Tag

After the sun goes down, your children can flicker their flashlights in this nocturnal game. As they play, they'll learn how fireflies communicate-the lightning bugs send signals of blinking light to attract mates.

To begin, players should pair off and create a flashlight signal (one short and one long flash, three short flashes and so on). Partners must then separate and go to opposite ends of a large, open playing area (a park is ideal). Players are given one minute to scatter before they may begin flashing signals. Each pair tries to reunite as quickly as possible by sending flashlight signals to partners. The first pair to reunite is the winner


Heavenly lights have guided voyagers, inspired philosophers and entranced children for centuries. With some orientation, the mysterious pictures in the night canopy become easier to see. The best viewing conditions are on clear, moonless evenings. Pack a star chart (available at science stores), a flashlight (covering the lens with red cellophane will let you read the chart, yet keep your eyes adjusted to the dark) and a blanket.

The Big Dipper is probably the best-recognized constellation. American children think of it as a ladle. (It's said that wishes made on it in summer won't fall out because the bowl is facing up.) Kids in other countries see different shapes: Polynesians call it the Rat; Poles call it the Wagon; English folks call it the Plow; and Hindus call it the Seven Wise Men. The Big Dipper is part of a larger constellation called the Great Bearits handle forms the bear's tail. The middle star on the handle has a tiny, faint companion star that was used by the ancient Arabs to test people's vision.

If you look at the bowl of the Big Dipper, you'll find two pointer stars that aim straight at Polaris, the North Star, which in turn forms the tip of the Little Dipper's handle. As any Girl Scout knows, if you can locate the North Star, you don't need a compass. In Pawnee creation myths, it's known as The Star That Does Not Move.

In addition to seeking out the 3,000 or so stars that are visible to the naked eye, stargazers can also search for planets by looking for starlike objects that do not twinkle, Satellites too, are a rewarding quarry. They move steadily and slowly across the sky, which makes them easy to spot. If your group is lucky enough to spy shooting stars you can explain that they are not actually stars but chunks of metal and stone called meteors.

Recommended sites for more Camp-out ideas:

For a collection of tall tales and campfire stories suitable for telling to a group of young people, visit the Macscouter site. There must be dozens, perhaps hundreds of Tall Tales out there!

Looking for more sing-a-long songs for your campfire time? Check out the Mich Camp Grounds site. They have a huge list of appropriate songs.

For some great information on star gazing visit the Skywatch site

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