Friday, August 5, 2011

15 Things to do before back-to-school

I can't believe it is August already! Fall/Autumn and Back-to-School are closer and closer everyday. It seems that all of the stores are already bombarding us with pencils, crayons, erasers, binders, laptops and all of the accessories for a new school year and Halloween items all at the same time. I stopped at a local craft store this past week where they even have Thanksgiving and Christmas just about set up for the season! I have to admit, I have started thinking Fall and Winter, but in my defense, it takes me much longer to hand-sew each of my items. I was just starting out this time last year, so I had very little time to get ready for the fall/winter holidays. This year I am a little better prepared! :) 
This morning the sun is shining bright, the weather is still hot, the pool is waiting for its first swimmers of the day, and the flowers are growing like crazy. Here are a few ways to slow down the rush and enjoy the few weeks we have left of summertime:

  1. Sidewalk Art: Grab your bucket of sidewalk chalk and head outside! Draw pictures, letters, numbers, play games, anything! Draw your friend's portrait and write their name underneath. Play tic-tac-toe with your sister. If you don't have sidewalk chalk at home make your own, or use large paintbrushes (like the kind you use to paint your house) and water. Fill a bucket with water, dip your paintbrush and draw on the sidewalk or even the side of the garage. As soon as the water dries, you have a fresh canvas to draw some more!

  2. Check out some extremely large and life-like sidewalk chalk art in person or online:There are a lot of wonderful artists out there creating giant chalk masterpieces- if you run in to one, be sure to stop and get a picture! Many rely on perspective to appear 3-D, so it may take a minute to find just the right place to view it from.

  3. Sidewalk Chalk Art
    Have a picnic: Grab your picnic basket, a blanket and some friends and head outside to have lunch. Pack a few sandwiches, pieces of fruit, some lemonade and other goodies to enjoy on the open grass or under a shade tree. If you can't get time to go to the park, head outside on your lunch break or set up your picnic in the backyard.

  4. Play catch: Dig out your old ball mitt from the box in the garage and head outside and play catch! Little ones love to try and toss a ball as far as they can, and older ones love to learn how to throw a curve ball just like dad!

  5. Play four-square: Remember that game we used to play at recess? Teach it to your little ones or younger siblings! If you can't quite remember the rules or are new to the game, you can find a refresher course here: How to Play Foursquare

  6. Rollerblade/rollerskate: Grab your blades or skates and head outside or to the roller rink!
    When I rollerblade, I prefer the outdoors. I look for paved and relatively flat biking trails. Don't forget the helmets and all of your padding!
    When I skate, I head over to the roller rink. I find that the rink runs about $5-7/person  for 2-3 hours (depending on the rink and location). Skate rentals usually run about $1-2 for basic skates and about $3 for speedskates or rollerblades. If you have your own at home, as long as they are in decent condition and the wheels are clean from gunk and rocks, you can use them at the rink and save a few dollars. I find the best time to go is earlier in the day, especially for beginners and younger children. Older students and adults typically crowd the rink the evening time, and this may make it harder for newcomers to learn how to skate with the "big kids" whizzing past at high speeds.
    Indoor/outdoor or inline/quad, both make for a great family day out!

  7. Frisbee: Grab a friend and a frisbee and head outside to an open area. This is also a great game to play with the family dog!

  8. Tie-dye: Available in pre-made kits or in individual packets of dye, this is a great way to extend the life of your older white shirts! (Like the one with the mustard stain that didn't quite come out!) There a several ways to create interesting designs and shapes- it all depends on how you twist, knot, rubberband and crinkle your shirt. Kids love seeing their artwork turn into something they can wear! This is also a great way to teach children about what happens when two colors touch and mix. There are dozens of tutorials, supply companies and videos online such as How to Tie Dye. Craft stores and even Walmart sell dye and kits. This makes a great outdoors project for a group!
  9. Take a hike: Grab your hiking boots, water bottle, compass and a trail map and head out for a hike! Depending on how far you plan to go, you may want to pack a small lunch or snack and extra water. Don't forget your bug spray and/or sunscreen!

  10. Have a BBQ: Get your friends and family together for a cookout in the backyard! Burgers, hot dogs and chicken on the grill are must-have summertime foods! If you are worried about costs, make it pot luck and have everyone bring a side-dish!

  11. Go Fishing: Head out to the lake, river or pond with the family for a day of fishing! If you don't care for the feel of live worms, minnows or frogs, grab some artificial lures from your local bait and tackle shop. Depending on how far your favorite fishing hole is from your car, pack a small cooler with cold drinks and a few snacks.  (Be sure to check your local laws.)

  12. Look at the stars: Find an area away from the city traffic and bright lights and watch the stars. How many constellations can you find and name? Don't forget to make a wish on a shooting star!

  13. The Ice-cream Man: You hear the music every time the ice cream man drives by... so run out there and get a rocket pop, a choco-taco or an ice cream cone! This is a great way for children to practice counting money and making a purchase.
  14. Make your own ice cream: What is better then eating ice cream? Making it yourself! You can find many different recipes and methods online. You can find one great tutorial here.  I have found the baggie method to be pretty quick and it works well with 2% milk.

  15. Gather veggies from the garden: The garden is flourishing and everyday new vegetables are appearing!  Have the kids help you gather up the ripe veggies (and perhaps even the weeds). Younger children love naming what they find. Older children enjoy helping out in the kitchen to turn their findings into a yummy meal!

There are so many things to do before school starts again! What are some of your favorites?

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