If your family is like mine, you won’t make it through the first week of summer vacation without hearing the “b” word: “bored.” But with a whole cyber-universe of activities and instructions at your fingertips, there’s no excuse. Here are eight fantastically fun things to do this summer, along with links for learning more.
1. Serve up some stop-motion movies. With a digital camera, a bit of patience, and some free software, you can make Lego minifigures, clay shapes, or paper cutouts move like magic. Find easy-to-understand instructions at http://tinyurl.com/stopmotionfun. Kids younger than 12 will probably need help, but once they get the hang of it you’ll be amazed by the results.
2. Hold a neighborhood film festival. Using your garage door or a white sheet for a screen, show your favorite family movies outdoors! Add a community concessions stand, bug spray, and lawn chairs for a cheap and unforgettable night out. Get great ideas at http://tinyurl.com/garagemovie.
3. Sharpen your word skills. On the occasional rainy day, make your own word searches, crossword puzzles, and more at www.discoveryeducation.com/puzzlemaker. Then swap with a friend and solve.
4. Seek hidden treasure. Geocaching is a worldwide phenomenon. Using a GPS device or a GPS-enabled cell phone or PDA, search for “treasure” someone else has hidden near your home or vacation site. To learn how, visit www.geocaching.com.
5. Chronicle your adventures.Turn one piece of paper into a mini-journal with instructions from http://tinyurl.com/foldedbook. Or learn how to turn an empty CD case and some fun paper into a mini scrapbook at http://tinyurl.com/cdscrapbook (simplify the process for younger kids—just decorate the inside of the CD case with scrapbook paper, then glue in a long accordion-folded piece of paper for the scrapbook pages).
6. Read up a storm.Challenge your kids to read one Caldecott or Newbery award book for each year of their age. Find lists of all past winners at www.ala.org/alsc/caldecott.cfmor www.ala.org/alsc/newbery.cfm.
7. Make stuff. Visit standby site www.familyfun.go.com for great kids’ crafts, recipes, and more. Another site, www.BusyBeeKidsCrafts.com, offers fun, nonthreatening crafts for the younger set. And whatever you think of her, Martha Stewart’s kids’ crafts are sophisticated, stylish, and relatively simple (www.marthastewart.com).
8. Let the games begin! Hold your own summer Olympics with games even non-athletes will love. Visit www.pbskids.org/zoom/activities/games for the longest list of relay races, chase games, and physical challenges you’ve ever seen.