Looking for some new ideas for fun this summer? Gather up your kids and work your way through the alphabet with these 26 ways to liven up those luscious months of summer.
Art – Create art with your kids. Finger paint, decorate the sidewalk with chalk, paint rocks for garden decorations or visit a paint your own pottery studio. The possibilities are limitless.
Baseball – Play catch. Run the bases. Start a neighborhood game. Get tickets to watch your favorite team. If you don't have a major league team nearby, check out a minor league team or enjoy the fun of your local Little League. Or better yet, grill some hot dogs, get some Cracker Jack and cheer for your team on TV.
Camp out – Whether you are sleeping in a tent in a State Park or camping outside under the stars in your own backyard, camping is a great way to connect with your family.
Drive-in movies – Yes, they do still exist. Check www.drive-ins.com to find one in your area. Then put your kids in their PJs, grab a blanket, pack some bug spray and enjoy the show. For the next best thing, check to see if your community hosts an outdoor movie night.
Entertain – Plan a backyard bar-b-que, bonfire, or block party. Host a summer fiesta or patio party. Get a bounce house and host a kid's party. Entertaining outdoors is one of the joys of summer, plus with everyone outside, your house won't get as messy and clean-up is easy.
Festivals – Summer is the time for outdoor festival fun. Swedish Days in Geneva, IL is just one of the many fests going on around the country. But don't discount the fun of County and State fairs. You can see prize winning farm animals, ride the Ferris wheel, eat cotton candy and experience a demolition derby.
Garden – Get out and dig in the dirt. Flowers or vegetables, container or backyard plots, it's all fun and a great learning experience for your kids as they water and watch their plants grow.
Hula-hoop – A 1960's throwback perhaps, but they're still fun. Why not get some and have a family or neighborhood contest.
Ice cream – No food delights summer taste buds more than ice cream. Make your own or go out to your favorite spot. Set up a make your own sundae bar and surprise your kids with ice cream for breakfast.
Jump – Play jump rope with your kids. Teach them a skipping rhyme like "Texico, Texico, over the hills to Mexico" (remember the rope goes all the way around when you say over.) Or jump off the high dive at your local pool and remember the thrill.
Kick the can – Teach your kids the neighborhood games you played as a child like kick the can, capture the flag, ghost in the graveyard, flashlight tag or kickball.
Lemonade Stand – A fun rite of passage for every child during the summer. Set up one with your kids and they'll learn about advertising (make a monster sized poster), counting money and how to sell.
Museums – A great place to spend a hot or a rainy afternoon. Kane-DuPage Regional Museum Association in Illinois provides a Passport to Adventure booklet listing its over 50 museums and nature centers. Railway museums are another fun option to consider. Check to see what's offered in your area.
National Parks – Sure, they're crowded in the summer but that's because it's the best time to visit. There are amazing sights to see and everyone needs to experience nature. If a visit to a National Park isn't in the offing, stay close by and enjoy a State Park.
Outside – Eat, play, read, sleep, you name it, summer's the time to do it outdoors.
Parades – Whether it's for Memorial Day, 4th of July, or a community celebration, enjoy a parade with your kids this summer.
Quilt – Work on a memory quilt for your kids. Use their old baby clothes, t-shirts from activities or vacations, sports uniforms, whatever you want for those fond memories of your children.
Read – What's better than a cool library on a hot day? Or, grab some books and read outside under a tree, read by the beach, or read to your kids. Discover what reading programs your library offers during the summer.
Swim – In a pool, at the beach, in a lake. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a summer swim.
Tie – dye – Use old white t-shirts, buy a kit, do the work outside and create some groovy new shirts for your family.
Umbrella – Break out the umbrellas and take a walk in a summer rain shower. Make sure your kids wear boots so they can splash in the puddles.
Visit – It's a great time to visit the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. If that won't work, visit a neighbor or friend. It's nice if you bring some flowers from your garden or homemade treats.
Walk – Walk to town, walk after dinner, walk around the block with flashlights after dark, or talk a walk in the woods. Visit the website www.localhikes.com to find some great trails in your area.
X-marks the spot – Plan a treasure hunt for your kids and their friends. Make a treasure map, set some boundaries, hide the treasure and they're off.
Yawn – Indulge in a luxurious afternoon nap.
Zoo – Enjoy a trip to the zoo. But if you don't have a zoo nearby, rent the movie "I Bought a Zoo."
Lisa Nord Seplak is a freelance writer and mom who loves to enjoy the summer with her family.