Photo: ThinkstockBy Leigh Newman
Throw an Outdoor Film Festival in Your Backyard
No need for an expensive digital projector (though these are fun if you have a spare $500). Just spread the sleeping bags on the grass, pop some popcorn (Add butter? Why...yes!) and pour it into brown paper bags labeled with each child's name to avoid bickering over portion size. Set up the laptop on the grass after dark and watch under the stars. Sure, you could watch the movie inside, but shifting the screening outdoors instills the kind of nonsensical magic that makes kids squeal over the 100 millionth viewing of Madagascar. When it's time for everybody to go to sleep, reminisce extensively about the few, scruffy old drive-ins of your youth (they'll love that).RELATED: Cat Cora's 4 Tasty Twists on Popcorn
Make Jump Rockets
Altitude, yes. Combustion, no. If your child is under 5 or has yet to develop fine motor skills, the deluxe edition is a necessity (the launch pad is better able to withstand a toddler's attempts to jam the rocket on the pole). Also, if your yard or park has hazards (trees, eaves, garage roofs, husbands/uncles who once had NASA dreams, cranky neighbors, psychotic neighbors, neighbors who play by "finders keepers" rules), extra foam rockets are also a necessity. ($18, amazon.com)
Have a Whipped Cream Fight
Rules: (1) Everybody wears a raincoat. (2) Everybody goes outside. (3) Everybody gets a full can of Reddi-wip. (4) Nobody can eat from his or her own can...but you can eat whipped cream from your sister's can if she, say, sprays it all over your nose.
RELATED: Fun Foods to Cook with Your KidsPlay the 5 Miles from Home Game
Take an old-fashioned (i.e., paper) map of your town. Measure the distance of five miles on its key. Mark that distance on a piece of string (or dental floss, whatever you've got). Tack one end of the string onto the location of your house on the map. Attach a pen to the other end. Circle the pen gently around your house, leaving a clear circle on the map. Have the youngest person in the family place her finger anywhere on the circle. Drive to the actual location, get out and take a picture of you and whatever's there.All in a Day
Take time to fall in love with the paper cutout art from the book, then make a paper boat, like the one pictured on page 21, out of old newsprint. Fill the sink or kiddie pool with water and blue food coloring. Float it merrily down the stream.
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