Summer. Doesn’t that just conjure up some of the best memories and images? Sunshine, bikes, popsicles, swings, friends, swimming in the creek , a jug of sun-tea brewing on the porch, and endless hours to fill however you wish. Here we are counting down the last days of school, just two more weeks – 10 days, and looking forward to every minute of the two and half months we have to do whatever we want with no schedules to follow.

I am determined to make this the best summer ever, so I’ve been planning out some fun ideas and working on our summer bucket list. I already know there are bound to be many lazy days spent at the pool with the ducklings and just as many watching them chase each other around the playground and park. But I have some new ideas that I think are really going to be hugely popular with all three boys.

Just today I discovered via pinterest one of those that has you kicking yourself for not coming up with it first – breakfast picnics! I don’t know about your kids, but mine are early risers. I’m talking 6:30 early. So this year I’m going to take advantage of that by getting to the parks when they are still cool and quiet and packing a picnic full of our favorite breakfast foods – such as a breakfast sandwiches, bowls of cereals (pour milk in a thermos to keep it chilled), yogurt, and fresh fruit. Don’t forget your ice-packs to keep everything cool and some water to drink. Maybe even some OJ for a morning treat. We’re lucky enough to have access to a great trail system, literally in our backyard and could even walk a mile up the road to the picnic table with a great view of a local horse farm. It’s a great way to get out and enjoy the day, before the heat and humidity kick-in.

Another great outdoors adventure is letterboxing. If you’ve never heard of letterboxing before, it has a lot in common with geocaching. The basic premise is a treasure hunt. Each letterbox is a watertight box containing a log-book and rubber stamp, some may also include an ink pad and pen/pencil. You will need your own log book, stamp, ink pad, pen/pencil, and possibly a compass. Following a set of clues (many clues can be found at the above website sorted by state and region) you find the letterbox, stamp the logbook with your stamp, sign and date it. You then use the stamp in the box to mark your own logbook, mark the date and location, and then re-hide the letterbox where you found it. This is a great activity for kids who fancy themselves pirates or treasure hunters. It’s also a great way to teach them about nature and orienteering.

I’m also planning to set up some obstacle courses in the yard. How easy is to grab some hula hoops, cones, jump ropes, rocks, sticks or whatever you have handy and create some fun the help get your kids off the couch and into the yard?  These along with some great summer-time games like a giant-sized game of marbles using sports balls, ghosts in the graveyard, sack races using old pillowcases, along with some old standbys like camping (don’t forget that The Great American Backyard Campout is the last Saturday in June), fishing, and hiking are sure to get everyone excited about heading outdoors.

We’ve got the arts and crafts planned out too. How about tie-dye? My boys love tie-dye and I know they’ll enjoy making their own tie-dyed shirts even more. Another great idea with tie-dye is a woven wall. The idea is simple. Tie-dye some sheets and then rip them into strips. Find a good location to create a wall, trees set about five to six feet apart is ideal, wrap twine between them and then weave the strips of tie-dyed sheet around them. It would be simple to turn it into an open air fort by simply making three walls.

Another favorite activity is ice-cube watercolors, if you don’t mind a mess. This one couldn’t be simpler. Simply fill some ice-cube trays with water, use food dye to color the water, and freeze. When they are frozen get some butcher paper, take it all outside, and create works of art before your watercolors melt. Fair warning, wear some old clothes you don’t mind getting stained and it may take a while for your skin to come entirely clean. The kids will thank you for this when it’s super hot outside and you’ll love the works of art that are produced.

If these ideas aren’t enough, then I highly recommend picking up a copy of 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca P. Cohen. A lot of her ideas revolve around gardening because that is what she does, but there are a ton of other great ideas aimed at getting your kids outside for at least 15 minutes every day of the year.

So what is on your summer bucket list? Anything I’ve missed? Or do you just want to sit back and let the sun wash over you?

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