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Summer is here! The sun is bright, the weather is warm, and the kids are bored…. This section of the Playground is dedicated to fun and inexpensive ways to keep the kids entertained and happy this summer season!

Sand Art

Create a work of art to remind you of sunny summer beach days! This is a simple craft that is appropriate for a wide range of ages. All you need is sand, food coloring, glue, and heavy card stock or construction paper.

Put a small amount of sand in Ziplock plastic bags. Add a few drops of different colors of food coloring to each and shake and massage the bag until the sand is the desired color. Transfer the sand to a paper plate so that it can dry. Now use the glue and sand alternately to make a multi-colored picture or design. Allow to dry and hang!

You can also create a sand greeting card by taking a 9"x12" piece of colored construction paper, folding it in half, writing your message in the inside fold, and then making your design on the front!

Ice Cream in 5 Minutes!

This is what you'll need:
· 1 gallon-sized ziploc bag
· 1 quart-sized ziploc bag
· milk
· sugar
· vanilla
· salt
· ice

Here's what you do:
· In the 1 quart-sized bag, put: 1 cup milk , 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
· In the gallon-sized bag, put: 1/3 cup salt, 3/4 of the bag filled with ice cubes
· Place the smaller bag inside the larger bag (make sure the seal is tight!).
· Shake vigorously for 5 minutes. ENJOY!

(In case you're wondering....YES YES YES...this really works!)

Treasure Hunts Are a Great Summer Activity!

Need a quick activity to keep the kids entertained? Treasure hunts are fun for children of all ages, are easy to put together quickly, and can provide hours of fun! Here are just a few ideas…

Coin Hunt:
Collect your loose change and prepare for a serious hunt! You can play this one indoors or outdoors. Simply "hide" your treasure throughout the predetermined hunting area, and let the kids find the goods! You can also have 2 teams that hide coins in different areas and then race to see who can find all the treasure first! (Note: this is not a good game for toddlers, as they may put the coins in their mouth- for the younger set, use a larger item, like wooden blocks)

Follow the Clues:
This can be done indoors or outdoors as well, but requires a bit more preparation. You'll need a "treasure" (you can use a treat like a bag of chocolate coins, or a colorful certificate), and a supply of post-it notes. Find a good place to hide the treasure, then write a clue that leads right to it. Hide the clue, then write and hide another clue that leads to that one, and so on. Try to hide each clue so that a small piece of the paper shows, and don't hide clues too close together. Use as many clues as you want, numbering them in order. Leave one clue unhidden to start the hunt! Make the clues age appropriate- you can draw pictures for preschoolers who can't yet read- or read the clues for them.

Nature Scavenger Hunt:
Here's a fun outdoor treasure hunt that will keep the kids busy! Make a list of at least 20 small, naturally occurring things that might be found in your area. Some examples include: a pink flower petal, an acorn, a dandelion, a red leaf, a long pinecone, a white pebble, a feather, a leaf an insect has chewed on, etc.

Happy Hunting!

Recommended Summer Reading:

"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" by Mark Teague
"Fluffy's Silly Summer" by Kate McMullen
"The Bag I'm Taking to Grandma's" by Shirley Neitzel
"Arthur's Family Vacation" by Marc Brown
"Better Not Get Wet, Jesse Bear" by Nancy White Carlstrom
"Splash!" by Ann Jonas
"Joe's Pool" by Claire Henley
"Andrew's Bath" by David McPhail


Friendship Day is August 1st! This special day was sanctioned by Congress in 1935 as a day to honor and celebrate friendships. Send a Friendship Day electronic postcard, get some ideas for Friendship Day activities and crafts, and take a peek at our upcoming Friendship Day mail package our Friendship Day page.

Create an Indoor Summer Garden!

Welcome warm sunny days by turning your bedroom into a glorious garden! Here are a few ideas:

Summer Grass:
You'll need a foil or paper tray, some popsicle or craft sticks, soil, grass seed (or bird seed), and colored construction paper. Cut out flower shapes on different colors of construction paper. Glue them to the tops of the craft sticks and allow to dry. Fill the tray with soil and scatter the seeds on it. Push the flower sticks into the soil in the tray. Put the tray in a light place and water regularly, then wait for the grass to grow around the flowers.

Bug Garden:
Take a sheet of construction paper and some washable poster paints. Pour a little bit of each color of paint onto a paper plate. Dip your finger into the paint, and press onto the paper to make a fingerprint. Repeat with the different colors, until the paper has a number of different colorful fingerprint shapes. Now use markers or crayons to make bugs out of your fingerprint designs! You can add antennae, legs and other markings to make butterflies, ladybugs, snails, centipedes and more!

Quick Homemade Summer Games Activities

Here are a few quick games you create yourself using items you have around the house!

Scoop and Toss:
All you need for this game is a few large empty and clean plastic containers with side handles. They can be water bottles (the large 2.5 gallon containers work great!), or laundry detergent containers. First, remove the paper labels by running hot water over them. An adult should then cut off and discard one end of the container (if using large water bottle) or the base of the container (if using standard size plastic jug). Decorate with stickers or fabric paint from squeeze bottles. Make a second scoop and you're ready to play scooper catch! You can use a whiffle ball or fill an old sock with sand and tie a knot! To play the game, toss the ball in the air to a friend who tries to catch it in his scoop. Continue tossing and catching! When you're done, you can use it as a sand scoop!

Homemade Badminton:
Create racquets using wire coat hangers, nylon stockings and string. Bend the wire hanger into an oval shape, so it looks like a racquet. Twist the ends together to make a handle. Pull the nylon over the top of the oval and wrap it tightly around the handle. Wrap the string around the handle to make it secure and easy to hold. Now hit a light, soft ball back and forth across a net or long string stretched between trees.

Some quick sun activities:

* Have a water balloon toss
* Play limbo in the backyard sprinklers
* Have a picnic- eat watermelon and count the seeds!
* Make a summer memory scrapbook
* Get out of the heat and go see a movie!
* Have a sponge toss- take soaked sponges and throw them at a designated target

Bubble Mania!

Start by mixing together 1/4 cup of dishwashing liquid, 2 cups of water, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Pour the mixture into a shallow container and have a bubble blowing frenzy using a variety of unusual bubble blowing tools! Plastic funnels, six pack soda rings, plastic cups with holes punched through the bottom.

Bubble Art!

Now take the bubble mix, pour some into a cup and add a few drops of food coloring. Blow rainbow bubbles into the air, and try to catch them with a white sheet of paper! After the paper dries, use markers or crayons to finish your masterpiece!

Ready, Aim, Squirt!

It's target practice time, got your squirt bottles ready? To play this game, label each of several plastic cups with a different number, letter or word. Have the children sit side by side on the ground. Ask each child to balance a cup on his head with the labeled side aligned with his back. Then give another child the squirter!! Call out a number, letter or word, and see how long it takes the "squirter" to knock the designated cup off the child's head!


Grandparents Day is September 10th! Be sure to send one of our adorable Mail Just 4 Me electronic postcards!

Our Grandparents Day mailing is scheduled to be sent out the second week of August! Included is everything your child needs to make a special photo frame keepsake box for Grandma & Grandpa! Don't forget to order Mail Just 4 Me!

A Splashy Tune
(sung to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ball Game)
One last blast for the summer.
One last blast before fall.
I'll run in the sun-
Feel the heat on my face.
Splish-splashing cool water
All over the place!

Now there's June, July and yes, August-
Each month is my summertime friend.
For its one...two....three months of fun
Before summer's end!

Recommended sites for more Summer fun ideas:

Want to play a game? Games Kids Play has the rules for hundreds of games to learn and play!

Visit National Geographic for Kids! Lots of fun and educational activities!

Kids can make a difference too! The Kids Care site shares opportunities for kids to volunteer their time to help others.

How about selling lemonade from your own lemonade stand? The Hewlett Packard page has some great printables to get you started- plus a recipe for gingerbread cookies to accompany the lemonade!

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