Cheap summer fun to help keep your family cool

With the temperatures rising, we're all thinking wistfully back to the days when it was too cold to go outside...those days when hot chocolate and thick wool socks made for a cozy night.

But now that it's hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, it's time for some chillin' out...some fun activities you and your family can do to cool down on those hot summer days. And with everyone working hard to stretch every dollar, it's a good idea to have some cool summer fun that costs little or nothing. Here's 10 suggestions...

1) Make yourself some ice cream in a bag. Yep. A bag. Take 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of half-and-half and a 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, and combine it in a pint-size ziplock bag. Seal it tightly. Place 1/2 cup of kosher or rock salt in a gallon-size ziplock bag. Fill the bag about half full with ice cubes, then add the smaller bag. Seal the bigger bag tightly. Shake the bags for about 5 minutes, or until the ice cream mixture hardens. You can feel the smaller bag to determine when it's done. Add fruit, candy or whatever mix-ins you like. You can even eat right out of the bag.
2) Make a giant water slide. Stretch a piece of heavy construction plastic out, leaving extra space at the bottom. Stake it into place, making sure it's secure. Hose it down, and leave the hose running slightly at the top of the slide. You can add a little shampoo or dish detergent to make things extra slippery.
3) Go to the library. You can get lost for hours looking for and reading books indoors, where the temperatures are a lot cooler. And summer reading will help your kids maintain what they learned during the past school year.
4) Hit the local community pool. Chances are, lots of your children's friends will be there, and while they socialize, you can catch some rays and cool off, too.
5) Wash the car together. Grab some sponges or rags, some buckets and soap, and the water hose...and head into the backyard for some good, clean family fun. You may even let the kids wash their bikes or outside toys. Make it fun by having a water fight.
6) Get dirty. Find a great spot in your yard that's either sandy or a good spot for a mudhole. Fill it with water, and have some good, unclean fun. if the area is sandy, you can build sand castles. If it's just muddy, just have fun getting dirty and cooling off.
7) Play baseball with a tennis racket, some sponges and a bucket of water. Nerf balls work really well for this.
8) Set up the sprinklers and get the entire family outdoors for some fun. You can play games or just limbo your way to coolness.
9) Have a water balloon fight. It's an oldy, but a goody.
10) Get everyone in the family a water gun – super-soakers work best – and have at it. Make it extra fun by setting up obstacles and places you can hide, or dividing into teams.

Whatever you do this summer to keep yourself and your family cool, make sure to wear sunscreen whenever appropriate, and remember to reapply after swimming or sweating. Even with water games such as these, it's wise to make sure you use sunscreen properly to protect yourself and your children.
Published Monday, July 12, 2010 1:04 PM by bulldog
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