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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Still got time for some activities

Activities to entertain a family can be expensive, but spending quality time together does not have to cost anyone anything, except for their time. In fact, activities for a family don't have to cost a penny, and they can be enjoyed all year long when you use a little bit of imagination and a few supplies found right around the house. Here's something that perhaps you can try anytime of year.


Everyone is craving to get outside after a long winter, and some of the best free activities can be enjoyed in the great outdoors, and they include:

bicycling, hiking on trails, rock collecting, building a club house from scrap wood found on walks through the woods, sight seeing at local points of interest, wildlife tours through wooded areas, quality time in the kitchen, and an indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt using items from around the house.


This is the time of year that picnics and barbecuing are at an all time high, so why not let the kids join in on the preparations? Summer activities are endless and some of the best ones are:

Pitching a tent in your backyard, complete with spooky or even funny stories, melt some marshmallows or hotdogs over the bbq, play flashlight tag, swim in a local creek or (unsuspected but friendly neighbors pool), local pond or river, hide n seek, make a raft from scrap wood found on walks in a wooded area, picnics by a stream, bird watching, wildlife watching, and activities with younger kids can be enjoyed by using your sidewalk to draw four square or hopscotch games with chalk.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ideas for the summer

Summer time is a time to get outside. But being outside doesn't have to just be swimming and barbecues. Here are some great outdoor project ideas that dads and kids will really enjoy.  They involve things that move, learning about the world, or building things.  There is something suitable for every kind of dad.


Making Things that Go!

Model Rockets - This is a relatively inexpensive hobby and you can usually get a complete start up set for around thirty five dollars. The hobby is composed of spending a few hours making rockets out of cardboard and plastic tubes then taking them outside and launching them.  Kits are readily available that have everything needed and the dual aspects of  making something then firing it off will appeal to every type of dad and every type of child.


Kites - If something less involved (and less expensive) is desired kite making and flying is a great alternative. There are plenty of websites that will show you how to make a kit from scratch. Or you can spend a few dollars and purchase one.  Once it is assembled it will provide many hours of outdoor fun – until it gets stuck in a tree!


Remote Control Toys - A more complex build and use project would be something in the remote control genre. Just about everything imaginable is now available as a remote control project. You can build boats, airplanes, helicopters, or cars and then race them on the lake, driveway, or airways in the neighborhood.   This pursuit has some flexibility in that you can purchase the items completely assembled and ready to use or you can buy kits and plans that will give you many hours of fun just building them before you actually use them.


If you want to pull out all the stops you might want to consider making a go-kart. It could be either motorized or not.  Now this would be a project that is remembered for life.


Learning and Science Projects

Summer time is a great time to get outdoors but how often do we think about getting outside at night? Astronomy and telescopes are an often overlooked pursuit that is quite rewarding. And you really don't need a telescope.  A pair of binoculars and a star chart will be more than sufficient.  If you are looking for something spectacular to watch in the night sky you might want to plan your adventure around August twelfth this is the peak night for the Perseid meteor showers which will often come down at a rate of 90 per hour.  


Nature Walks that are something more

We are all familiar with the concept of a nature walk but you can take it to another level by picking a specific theme and making your own guide as you take your walk.   You make a guide by creating a book out of your experience. You can take notes, draw pictures, and collect items for your book. Think of it as something like Darwin did on his adventures. Here are some specific subjects you could focus on during your nature walk:

  • Rocks and Minerals – Bring a field manual with you and look for various types of mineral and rock formations. Chip off samples for your collection. 
  • Bird watching – You can draw pictures of bird or even record their sounds
  • Archaeology – Maybe there are some old sites not far from where you live that you ould dig.
  • Animal Watching – Even in cities you will be surprised by the wildlife you find. Make notes of what types of animals you see and where you see them. 
  • Cartography – Make maps of parks and walking paths much like a modern day Lewis and Clark
  • Treasure Hunting – Panning for gold is a fun adventure even if you don't find any
  • Eco Systems – You can get a field manual and visit a particular type of  eco system like a beach, wetland, forest, marsh or desert. 
  • Eco Awareness projects -  You can use a nature walk as a means of raising environmental issues. Volunteering with a local clean up group is also a great idea. 


Building Things

What Dad doesn't like to build things? Here are some ideas ranging from easy to spectacular. Some easy indoor/outdoor projects include bird houses, bat houses, and whirligigs.  Something a little more challenging might be a lemonade stand, small greenhouse, or a small windmill. If you are looking for something spectacular you might want to think about building a fort, dollhouse, or tree house! What Dad, or kid, wouldn't love a tree house! Summertime is the time to get outdoors and it is also a great time for dads and kids to do things together.  These ideas are ways to turn an average Sunday of sitting around the barbecue into something extraordinary and memorable.


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