1. Skip stones
Head to the beach and pick a thin, flat stone no bigger than your palm. The trick is to throw it with a quick flick of the wrist, which should get it to skim along the surface of the water at a 20-degree angle. World record: 88 skips!
2. Catch fireflies
Fireflies hang out in long grasses and marshy areas near water. Turn off your home’s exterior lights and blink a flashlight to attract them, and then use a net to gently scoop them into a jar. The jar should have air holes and a damp piece of paper towel to keep the air humid. Enjoy for an hour or two and then release again at night. Visit firefly.org for more tips.
3. Go to the drive-in
Gone are the days of window speakers at the local drive-in; the audio is broadcast through your vehicle’s FM radio. However, keeping your car radio on for a whole movie without the engine running can kill your battery—leaving you and your family stuck after the credits roll. Save your car battery and bring battery-powered handheld radios to use instead.
4. Binge-read a series
There are plenty of chapter book series kids will love. Think Sweet Valley High, The Girls of Canby Hall, Encyclopedia Brown, Macdonald Hall, The Baby-Sitters Club and Choose Your Own Adventure.
5. Play a marathon card game
Uno, War, Cribbage and Crazy Eights are classic options. If your child has trouble holding cards, make this easy holder: Take two medium container lids (yogurt ones work well) and place the smooth sides together. Make a small hole in the middle and join them with a brad fastener. Slip the cards between the lids.
6. See a falling star
Laying out on a clear summer night looking for falling stars is the best. If you wanna see a lot of them, head away from a city and all that light pollution. For a truly spectacular show, your best bet is the Perseids meteor shower, which peaks on August 12 and 13.
7. Build a fort
Who doesn’t love a fort? To get the job done you need a few good basics: clothespins, sturdy metal or plastic clamps and clips, twine, cardboard boxes and sheets. Bonus points for digging out a string or two of holiday lights.
8. Make a DIY slip and slide
Place a sheet of heavy plastic weighted with sandbags or big water balloons on the lawn. Squirt on a bit of (preferably biodegradable) baby soap or shampoo, turn on the sprinkler and go! Heavy-duty garbage bags would work too—just be sure to cut them to full size.
9. Decorate your bike
Grab some washable paint, homemade handlebar streamers (using ribbon, string or yarn), straws and crepe streamers for the spokes and cardboard for a front shield.
10. Make a grass whistle
Pick a tough, wide blade of grass. Hold between your thumbs, with a small space toward the bottom knuckles. Make a small slit with your lips and blow into the space so the grass vibrates.