We’re officially in the summer season. You’ve probably heard the words “I’m bored” more than you care to. It’s too hot to just let your little boogers run around outside, and the few activities that you do have will probably only hold their short little attention spans for only a few minutes.
So what do you do?
It’s time to get a little crafty! No need to have a degree in Martha Stewart Living or hold stock in your local craft store. Just grab your glue gun, and a few odds and ends and you can have the following items ready to go before you hear the dreaded “b” word come out of your little one’s lips.
Whether you live in a condo, or have a backyard with a pool, you’ll find that the following four activities are easy to put together; and most importantly, the perfect ways to help your kids beat the heat this summer season.
Indoor/Outdoor Magnet Fishing
What you need:
• wooden dowels – $.50 per dowel
• 2 to 3 circular magnets – $1.99
• miscellaneous refrigerator magnets – (you more than likely already have these)
• hot glue gun
• leather strips (optional)
• small plastic swimming pool (optional)
Total investment: $2.49
How to do it:
Assuming that you already have a glue gun, string, and refrigerator magnets, this is a SUPER inexpensive project that I can guarantee you will have your little ones occupied for hours.
Grab your dowels and place a small line of hot glue around one end. Wrap the string a few times around the end, being careful not to burn your fingers. I wrapped the string without precutting anything, so once I was satisfied that it was secure, I cut the string to about the length of the dowel.
Grab one of your circular magnets and place a dot of glue on one side.
Place the free end of the string on the glue and then quickly place another circular magnet on top sandwiching the string and glue in the middle.
At this point, you’re done! You’ve got a perfectly functional rod for your kids to go “fishing” with. I took things a step further and wrapped some strings of leather around the bottom of my dowel to create a handle. I also added a bit of leather string to the top in an effort to make my rod look authentic. (I’m an over-achiever. What can I say?)
Take your pool, or any sort of large container outside, fill it with an inch or two of water and then throw in your refrigerator magnet “fish”. Step back and watch your little ones have a blast retrieving magnets from the “pond”. Your kids will inevitably make a game out of it to see who can collect the most fish.
We allotted points to the different sizes of magnets turning it into a fun competitive activity that even daddy wanted to be a part of. (Check out that last photo.)
You can very easily keep the pool inside (if it’s a rather hot day), exclude the water and have a blast fishing for magnets indoors.
Pool Noodle Water Wall
What you need:
• long zip ties – $1.50
• 3 plastic funnels – $1.50
• 3 pool noodles – $3.00
• peg board (you can purchase this at your local hardware store pre-cut) – $8.00
Total investment: $14.00
How to do it:
This activity is great for elementary school aged kids and takes only minutes to put together. Once it’s all done, you can lean it up against the back of the house and have it accessible whenever the kids would like something a little different to do.
You can purchase the peg board at any popular hardware store already pre-cut in the lumber section.
Once you get your peg board home, lay it on a flat surface, grab your pool noodles, and sort of map out how you’d like for your noodles to go. Mimic the formation that I have in the photo, or try creating your own. Just remember to start your noodles from the top, and stop them about a foot from the bottom of your board. This will leave plenty of room for your water to flow out of the bottom of the noodles.
You’ll probably need an extra set of hands to hold your noodles in place while you zip-tie them down. My kids enjoyed helping me with this step. Once you have your noodles strapped down tightly, stand up your wall and grab your funnels.
You may want to grab your glue gun and add a few drops of hot glue around the bottom of your funnels before you stick them into the top of the noodles. Since my kids are a little on the small side I found that without the glue, the funnels fell out easily as my kids attempted to pour the water in.
Once you secure your funnels, your water wall is ready to go! Your kids will have a blast pouring the water into the funnels and waiting for it to come out of the bottom. You can even turn it into a mini science lesson. Have your child place their hand over the bottom of the noodle to stop the water from coming out. Explain water pressure and how it works.
When it gets cooler outside, drag your water wall into the garage or mud room and turn it into a marble racer. The holes are the perfect size for marbles to fit.
“Crazy” Sponge Ball Toss
What you need:
• at least 2 large sponges – $3.00
• 2 beach pails – $2.00 (or your kids may already have these available)
• large rubber bands – $1.00
Total investment: $6.00
How to do it:
This craft is super easy to do and makes for a perfect water activity for those who may not have access to a hose or sprinklers.
I found my sponges at my local Walmart. I purchased large car sponges, but I’m sure any large rectangular sponge will do.
Cut one of your sponges into strips, line the strips up evenly, and then grab them all together in your hand around the middle. Then use a large rubber band to secure the sponge strips together. The tighter the rubber band, the more “poof” you’ll get.
Feel free to get creative with this and mix the colors of the sponges to create a fun multi-colored “crazy” sponge.
Now, all you have to do is fill your pails with water and head outdoors. Your kids can make a game of catching the sponges in each other’s buckets, or they can toss them to each other.
We made our sponge game on a 90 degree day; so my twins simply enjoyed filling the sponge ball with water and squeezing it over their heads. It proved to be a cool, cheap, and refreshing way for them to cool down on a hot summer day.
What you need:
• water keeper – $9.00 (from Amazon.com)
• some sort of stand or chair for your water keeper to sit
Total investment: $9.00
How to Use It:
This one is an absolute must if you live in a condo or apartment.
If you go camping frequently, you may already have one of these in your garage. The water keeper is a camping staple; but you may have never thought to use it in your backyard.
Use your water keeper to refill water squirters, balloons, or any water toy; and of course, remember to keep some cups near by in order for your kids to rehydrate quickly and easily. Small children need constant hydration when outdoors in the heart of the summer.
The water keeper is a great way to have water readily accessible and proves to be a fun alternative to plain old water bottles or juice cups. My twins loved having the independence of getting the water themselves, and actually drank water frequently without any encouragement when I had it outside with us.
If you don’t have a water keeper already, you can find one easily in the camping section of your local big box retailer. You can actually purchase them cheaper online. They come in a plastic collapsible version and a hard plastic version. Aesthetically, I think the hard one’s are better, but for price, transportability, and storage, the soft collapsible version wins hands down.
It’s a worthy investment for families who don’t have access to hoses outdoors.