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Kids driving you nuts too? Too much cabin fever? Even though I love my a/c and can’t stand to part with it, I’m dragging my butt out of the house to let my kids have some fresh air. We took them to a park last night and they slept in until 8 today!  Heck yeah, that’s going to become a new routine around here. Because that means I get to sleep in too. πŸ™‚

Here are my top ten summer activities to keep those little (and big) ones entertained this summer!

1. Books!

Barnes and Noble is having a summer reading challenge (here’s the link) for school-age children. If they read and finish 8 books they can bring in their log sheet and choose a free book (from the list). It’s a great way to keep up their English and make sure they don’t fall behind! We’re actually working on staying at grade level and trying to catch up, so I’m coming up with different ways to make it fun and not seem like work. This is a winner in my book (no pun intended). Thanks Barnes and Noble!

You can also borrow free books from a library which leads us to number 2…

2. Libraries!

Growing up I used to love going to the LA county library in downtown Los Angeles…that place is a gold mine. And their archives are huge. Oh baby. They also would send books to a local branch if you so desired. I may be spoiled as far as libraries are concerned. If they didn’t have it, they would order it for you. Mmm mmm.

Not only can you check out books at your local library you can also rent movies, books on cd/tape, and a lot of them have STORY TIME and summer challenges for kids. I think ours has a Lego building challenge soon. They have activities for little ones like puppets and fun for the bigger kids, like their own reading programs.

Check out your local library! And if you’re local to me, here’s the one we chose (here’s the link).

3. Workshops!

I love Home Depot. They always have what you need. I picked up a bunch of plants last month and stuck them in my garden, and since they keep them outside my plants didn’t experience any shock.

Did you know they have workshops?! I didn’t either. So, I just signed my boys up for some. This week they can make a mini lawn mower and next month they can make a bug catcher…..for free!! Yes, I’m excited. I showed the boys the bug catcher and now they’re excited too. Woo-hoo Home Depot! (here’s the link)

4. Bowling!

I just found out about Kids Bowl Free. Two free games everyday in the summer! (but not on league night, as we found out last night…boo). If you get a family pass, 4 adults can join in the fun too. Woo-hoo! And now that I know which night is league night, I can plan our family fun night better.

Check to see if your local bowling alley participates! (here’s the link)

5. Start a garden!
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Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, kids will benefit from growing a garden. It’s all about science. Watching the little seeds grow, seeing the plants thrive in the sun and water, and enjoying the fruits of their labors….literally. We started our seeds inside and then hardened them off before planting them outside in a big planter box. They’re really thriving now.

What do you put in your garden? From my experience, peas and sunflowers are the best things to start from seed. They grow so fast and are super hardy. If you want quick shoots and buds, those are your best bet. You can pretty much grow anything else you like. We like to have a veggie, herb and fruit garden. Flowers are pretty and all, but they don’t do much. We like our garden to have a purpose.

We have a sweet onion patch, strawberries, bell peppers, new mexico chilies, two types of mini tomatoes, basil, spinach, broccoli, assorted lettuce, peas, radishes, sage, rosemary, peppermint, cucumbers and garlic.

Oh, garlic is also a fun one. You probably have some in your kitchen. Just separate the bulbs and stick the individual cloves into the soil. Boom! Instant plant. Those things grow even when you don’t want them too. πŸ˜‰

Steer away from potatoes, they take too much room. And if you plant corn, make sure you have plenty of room! Those get pretty tall!

You can find seeds in the garden section of your local stores. Just ask a store associate for help.

6. Parks!

As long as kids are roaming the earth, there will be parks. There is no shortage of them. We used to drive to the next city over in Pleasant View (what a cute name) to play at the park. It had an awesome fish bridge, rock wall and tall “spider web” that the kids could climb up. We loved that park.

Parks are great for kids to burn off all that extra energy, get their exercise in for the day and meet other kids. You can feel like an awesome parent just for taking them. Kids are easy to please.

So what makes a good park? Seating for parents/caregivers, equipment up to code, must have slides & swings, and clean & bright restrooms close by. Nothing kills the fun faster than a kid doing the potty dance and not being close to the bathroom. Try to explain that to a kid eyeing a row of hedges nearby. Not gonna happen. Must have clean bathrooms!

7. Camping!
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Camping is the ultimate way to utilize the outdoors this summer. Nothing like pitching a tent, gathering sticks, making a fire and cooking outdoors to make you feel self-reliant. You can add fishing to the mix and make it even more fun.

No campground nearby? Pop that tent in the backyard or even your own living room and you can still have fun. Make foil dinners, peach dump cake and sleep in sleeping bags. All the fun without the bugs!

Don’t forget bug repellant, plastic bags and sunscreen if you camp outside. Plastic bags…so you can take everything back when you’re done. Don’t leave a mess in the wilderness! And don’t forget to add some dirt and water to your camp fire to smother it.
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Must have s’mores!

8. Hobbies!
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Every kid is different, so it’s only natural that every kid has different interests. Summer time is the best time to indulge in those interests!

Have a girl that loves to twirl around? Sign her up for dance classes or stick on some music and rock out with her. Boys that are crazy over bugs? Give them a jar and set them loose in the garden! I found tons of caterpillars just from weeding our backyard. Kids wild over card games or making elastic bracelets? Surprise them with extra supplies.

Perfect time to learn a new skill. Kids are only little once, let them have fun with what they like to do!

My mom always signed me up for classes when I was little. I had ceramics, cooking, ballet classes, etc. That’s why I have so many different interests. I was given opportunities to develop them. Thanks mom!

Can you imagine if my mom didn’t indulge in my crazy little paper dresses on my barbies? Or letting me practice once a week making dinner for the whole family? I never would have developed those talents.

9. Just Add Water!

I can’t think of a better excuse to hose down the kids this summer. With temperatures hitting the triple digits, now is the time to drag out those kiddie pools and turn on the hoses. Whether it’s running through the sprinklers, taking a cold bath in swimsuits with toys (if it’s just too hot outside), or finding a local watering hole to cool down in…now is the time!

Grab some extra sponges, water balloons, super soakers or whatever floats your boat and have a water fight! It’s the best way to keep cool and fight heat exhaustion.

10. Explore!
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That’s right, I said explore. You don’t need anything fancy to do this. Just take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the sights.

Heard about an awesome little restaurant? Go check it out finally! We use the free app “Urbanspoon” when we’re feeling daring. We found an awesome Chinese place with huge portions for the price, and totally authentic taste.

Noticed a little local museum or old train depot? Surprise the kids one day!

Become a tourist in your neighborhood and discover all that your community has to offer! Like, we found out you can catch crayfish in Lake Tahoe without a fishing license because they are an invasive species to that lake. Our kids just pick them up and toss them in the ice cooler whenever we go.

Go have fun! Enjoy the outdoors. Make some memories! Childhood is so fleeting, so enjoy it while you can! πŸ˜€

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