1. Put big globs of shaving cream on the table, and let your kids sculpt and fingerpaint. (It’ll clean your table, too!)
2. Make tinfoil boats and float them down a creek or pond.
3. Have a picnic in your backyard.
4. Play dress-up. Let the kids dress up in some of your old clothing.
5. Create a literacy library for the summer. Put a price tag on good books for incentives for your kids to read at a more challenging level.
6. Make family T-shirts and conduct your activities like summer camp.
7. Plant a small garden and have your kids tend it.
8. Go to a you-pick site for summer strawberries, blueberries or blackberries.
9. Put a sprinkler under the trampoline.
10. Create a slip ’n’ slide out of a hose and a tarp.
11. Make homemade popsicles with Dixie cups and craft sticks. This is one of my favorite recipes.
12. Sort through the year’s worth of artwork and paperwork your kids made in school, and file it away. You’ll be surprised how much fun your kids will have looking back on their projects.
13. Set up a tent and camp in the backyard.
14. Hand over the flip camera, and let your kids make a music video.
15. Help organize a neighborhood talent show on your back porch.
16. Finally let your kids set up the lemonade stand they’ve been begging for all year.
17. Pull out your GPS or smartphone and go geocaching. Haven’t heard about this popular pastime? Check it out here.
18. Pay your kids to pull weeds, 5 cents apiece.
19. Duct-tape sponges to your kids’ feet and let them shine your kitchen floor.
20. Memorize poetry as a family. Alternate between poignant and silly.
21. Have a science experiment day. Pull out baking soda and vinegar, and let the kids mix them. Use a plastic egg carton, an eyedropper and a plastic or Styrofoam egg carton for color-mixing experiments.
22. Create a jug band with old glasses and bottles.
23. Play tug-of-war.
24. Turn on music and have a dance party.
25. Drive down a street you’ve never explored before and see what you can discover.
26. Build stilt-like walking cans out of your used No. 10 food storage cans.
27. Set up a bird feeder in the backyard and record the summer wildlife, or make your own with a pine cone, peanut butter and bird seed.
28. Go fishing.
29. Fill a dishpan with soapy water, and use a metal clothes hanger to create giant bubbles.
30. Have a family (or neighborhood) Olympics in the backyard.
31. Put a blanket on the grass and read aloud to your kids. Pick a few chapter books that you read to your kids every day. (Laura Ingalls Wilder or Roald Dahl are great read-aloud choices.)
32. Make mini pizzas. Let everyone shape and top them to their liking.
33. Have the kids help make jam or pickles for summer canning.
34. Go to a nearby farmer’s market to support local agriculture.
35. Buy something unusual, like whole honeycomb, and let everyone taste it.
36. Visit a historic site near your home, one you’ve never been to before.
37. Go to the library and let everyone pick a stack of books. Have a summer read-a-thon in the backyard.
38. Build a fire pit and roast marshmallows.
39. Make orange-juice slushies in the blender.
40. Set up a snow-cone stand.
41. Pick a summer building project, like a bike rack or compost bin, and build it with the kids.
42. Take advantage of free workshops in the area. Home Depot, Lowe’s and Michaels all have fun, kid-centered activities on a monthly basis.
43. Attend a free, outdoor concert in your area.
44. Build a backyard obstacle course.
45. Go to a local park and have your kids run obstacle courses. (This is a favorite in our family.)
46. Roll out butcher paper and trace your kids’ outline. Let them fill in the rest.
47. Or tape the paper to a wall and create a family mural.
48. Create a chalk city on the driveway with sidewalk chalk.
49. Put out cones for your kids to race around on their bikes or scooters. Time them to see how fast they go.
50. Clean out the no-man’s-land under the couches and couch cushions. Have each child put away 10 items.
51. Make homemade play-dough.
52. Train for a local race together.
53. March in a parade.
54. Find pen pals for your kids in a foreign country. It’s a good way to keep up their summer writing skills.
55. Write and illustrate a book together.
56. Fingerpaint with chocolate pudding.
57. Teach your kids to sew and work on a simple project, like a pillow or a beanbag.
58. Go to the fabric store and let them pick out their own special pattern or cloth. Then sew it together.
59. Make cheese or yogurt. (It’s easier than you think.)
60. Make a backyard hammock out of curtains or an old sheet.
61. Use a shoebox and bits of nature to create a diorama.
62. Make a mosaic out of pasta or beans.
63. Bring in the recycling bin and have an invention day to see what you can create with recycled materials.
64. Take a day hike in your area.
65. Look in your local paper for summer festivals and attend one.
66. Learn about a different culture and make an ethnic 67. Sort through all the toys and create a box for charity.
68. Have a kid-run garage sale. Use the earnings to go on a family outing.
69. Take a tour. Call up your local fire station, library or grocery store, and see if you can schedule a visit. (Combine with other friends to create a larger group.)
70. Make every Friday a field trip day to explore museums, parks, trails or historic sites.
71. Park near the airport and watch the planes take off and land.
72. Visit a local cemetery and lay flowers on a grave.
73. Go to the local thrift store, hand everyone two or three dollars, and see who can get the best find for their money.
74. Visit a retirement home and sing to the residents.
75. Hold your own neighborhood beautification day. Give each person a trash bag, and challenge him or her to collect 20 pieces of trash.
76. Build a sandbox.
77. Teach your kids how to write haiku. Bring notebooks to a favorite nature spot and write poetry together.
78. Have your kids keep a summer journal. Have them write or draw in it every day.
79. Have a daily quiet reading time so you can get a break (or a nap.)
80. Pick up a giant box from a local refrigerator store, and turn it into a rocket ship or playhouse.
81. Build a blanket fort.
82. Build a playhouse or tree house in the backyard.
83. Plant a fruit tree.
84. Hold a summer tea party.
85. Collect sticks on a nature walk and paint them into magic wands.
86. On the theme of wizards, grab the kitchen brooms and play Quidditch in the backyard.
87. Melt old, broken crayons in a pie tin to create block crayons for coloring.
88. Find a good bird book and a pair of binoculars, and go bird watching. See if you can identify five types of birds.
89. Get a regional tree book from the library, and try to name all the trees growing in your yard. Or go on a walk and see how many you can identify.
90. Make leaf rubbings.
91. Collect tadpoles, and bring them home so you can watch them grow into frogs. Then release them back into the wild.
92. Visit a local pet store and just window shop the snakes, lizards and bunnies.
93. Let each kid pick out one fruit or vegetable they’ve never eaten at the grocery store. Have a taste-testing party for dinner.
94. Set up a summer store where your kids can cash in for chores, summer homework or good behavior.
95. Get a star chart and teach your kids (and yourself) the constellations.
96. Learn some old-fashioned games, like stick-pull, kick-the-can or ghost-in-the-graveyard, capture-the-flag, or hide-and-seek.
97. Tap into the summer reading program through your local library or bookstore. Many give out free books at the end.
98. Have a silly day, where you start with dinner and end with breakfast, sleep in your clothes and wear your pajamas all day.
99. Pick wildflowers and make a bouquet for the table. Or press them so they keep forever.
100. Have a blast. Throw open the door, let down your hair, put aside the schedule of the school year, and enjoy the free and easy days of summer. Make it memorable. Make it magical. With 100 ideas under your belt, September will be here before you know it.