4 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

4 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

Summer vacation means only one thing for children: Freedom from school! For young ones, this time of the year means a blissful few months without having to wake up early, do homework or see their teachers. It means fun, fun and more fun. For parents, however, summer vacation can be a completely different story. Many parents tend to stress over just how much time their children should spend lazing around on the couch and watching television or playing computer games.

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Mind, Body and Soul Fitness with BGCA Triple Play

Disclosure – I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.”

Kids Playing Basketball

There are so many screens vying for my kids attention these days – television, tablets, computers, XBox and Wii – and while I think technology is great and I’m glad they have access to these things, I worry sometimes that they’re not getting enough activity away from the screens.  It is so important for kids to develop good habits early in life for mind, body and soul health and wellness.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America has developed their Triple Play healthy lifestyles program to help kids learn about the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition.  Did you know that nearly 3 out of 10 kids in the United States is either overweight or obese? The BGCA has partnered with The Coca-Cola Company and Amerigroup Foundation to help motivate kids to be healthy through nutrition and health education.

Kids Playing Basketball

You can download the BGCA Triple Play Parents Game Plan to get lots of great information and fun mind, body and soul activities that you can do with your family. There are wonderful tips for teaching your kids how to make healthy food choices, including what to look for in fast food restaurants, convenience stores and even at the school cafeteria. I really liked their tips on helping children to believe in their self worth and positive relationships with others in addition to their suggestions on how to include physical activity in your daily schedule.

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One of my favorite ideas in the Parents Game Plan is their Basketball Challenge – they include lots of techniques and instructions to help kids improve their skills and the challenge also details several different games for kids of different ages. We have a basketball hoop in our driveway and the kids and I like to play HORSE in the afternoons after homework. It’s such a fun way to do something physical together and it keeps everybody away from their screens for awhile!

Visiting the Battleship USS Alabama

We recently took the kids over to the Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama and spent the day exploring the USS Alabama, their large aircraft museum, and the USS Drum submarine.  They had a blast getting to climb all over the Battleship, sit in the gun turrets, and take a “nap” in the bunk beds.  The kids are already asking when they can go back and I’m sure after the Battleship movie comes out this weekend they’ll be really anxious to get back over there again.  Check out my guest post at the HotelCoupons.com blog today to get all the details and see more pictures!

How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Okay, it’s confession time guys!  I’ve really been looking forward to the Brandcation blogging conference next weekend at Portofino Island and all the planned activities including the Blogger Olympics and an exciting day at Adventures Unlimited.  Well I just recently found out that there will be a hula hoop competition and while I’m not averse to making a fool of myself in public, especially with a group of other participants, I’m not really willing to put the evidence on YouTube so I bought a hula hoop and started to practice.

I figured that I’d have plenty of time to master the hoop and this way I wouldn’t let my team down or risk making it onto the Today Show for a completely different reason than I had imagined!  I’m actually pretty embarrassed to admit that I tried for three days (not ALL day people!) and couldn’t get the hoop to go around more than three times in a row.

Refusing to give up (or miss the conference!) I went online in search of tips and found out that my $5 hoop was really “child sized” and would be the most difficult thing for an adult to learn with or use.  To determine the proper size you stand the hula hoop up on the ground and the top should reach somewhere between your waist and your chest.  The standard size for an adult is 42″ diameter, 36″ diameter for a small adult, and 32″ diameter for a child.

When I searched Amazon for fitness hoops (that’s what they call the adult version) they were $30 to $40 so I thought I’d make my own instead!  At Home Depot I bought a 25′ coil of 3/4″ 160 PSI PVC tubing, two 3/4″ nylon couplings (see connector pic below), and a roll of red duct tape for $26 – this was enough to make two hula hoops so they were $13 each.  I was so excited to try out my new hoop and I’m thrilled to report that the difference is amazing! (on a side note, my abs really hurt today!)

I watched this video to learn some hoop techniques and the two sisters who do the videos are incredibly fit and the hoop is so much fun that I believe I’ve found my new workout!  It’s definitely not easy which makes it an exciting workout, and it’s good for all your parts since you’re moving your hips and legs and holding your arms up at the same time.

How to Make Your Own Hula Hoop

Materials Needed:

  • 3/4″ irrigation tubing (120 to 160 PSI for adults, 100 PSI for kids)
    • 42″ Adult – 11′ length tube
    • 36″ Adult – 10′ length tube
    • 32″ Child – 8′ 4 1/2″ length tube
  • 3/4″ nylon coupling
  • Duct tape or electrical tape in color of choice

Use a PVC cutter or handsaw to cut the tubing to the desired length and insert the coupling into both ends.  If it is a tight fit then run the ends of the tube under hot water to soften before inserting the coupling.

Place a 3″ to 4″ length of duct tape around the coupled area to hold securely in place.  To finish the hoop, decorate it and give it a good weight wrap tape all the way around the hoop on the diagonal.

6 Cheap Entertainment Ideas at Practically No Cost

Are you on a limited budget and out of entertainment ideas? Sure, many forms of entertainment are expensive—but there’s no rule that says you can’t have fun on a limited budget.

1)  Rent movies.

Why not rent a movie instead of watch one at the theater? The RedBox kiosks allow you to rent a movie for just $1 a day. Get hold of a rental code and you’ll get an even better deal on your movie rental. Don’t have a RedBox kiosk in your area? Then keep an eye out for a Blockbuster Express kiosk. You can also try websites such as Hulu and Netflix, which are jam-packed with TV shows and movies or you can check out movies from the library for free.

2) Play board games.

When was the last time you and your friends (or family) brought out the board games? Dust off the old Monopoly set or borrow your cousin’s Cranium set. Board games are guaranteed to provide hours of fun!

3)  Take a peek at the community calendar.

Check out your community center or city hall and take a look at the schedule of activities lined up for the month. Your community center will likely have a wide selection of free or inexpensive classes and ongoing programs you can take part in.

4)  Check out the museums.

Are you up for a little culture? Surf the net and see if there are any exhibits that interest you. Many museums offer free admission on certain days of the week, while other museums are free all year long.

5)  Get your friends together.

Why not call up your friends and get a game of frisbee, basketball or football going? If sports aren’t your thing, then why not hold a potluck picnic in a nearby park or play some video games at home? It doesn’t really matter what you do—hanging out with friends is always fun and it doesn’t have to cost a thing.

6)  Take advantage of your surroundings.

Take your location into consideration. Do you live near the beach? Why not spend the day working on your tan or going fishing? If you’re near the mountains, go skiing or sledding! It’s easy to forget about what’s easily accessible.

These are just some of the many, many things you can do that are either free or inexpensive. You don’t always have to spend cash in order to enjoy yourself. These activities may not be the obvious choice for entertainment, but they’re just as fun!

Photo Credit: iClipart

9 Fun Activity Ideas for the Frugal Family

Are you living on a limited budget? After paying off bills for utilities, gas, groceries and other essentials, it’s pretty obvious that there isn’t a whole lot of budget left for family fun.

Thankfully, entertaining activities don’t always have to be expensive. Here are some wonderful activity ideas that you and your entire family can enjoy:

Hold a Pizza and Movie Night

Instead of having an expensive pizza delivered to your home, buy a wide assortment of frozen pizzas at the grocery store instead. Try all the pizzas while watching a rented movie, and then vote for the family’s favorite pizza at the end of the night.

Have a Regular Game Night

If you own a lot of board games, then why not make game night a weekly event in your household? The winner can choose next week’s board game!

Make Your Own Clay

Try a homemade project with your children—like making clay from scratch. All you need are everyday ingredients like peanut butter and flour. Scour the Internet for your favorite recipe and get ready to have some fun!

Hold a Treasure Hunt

Buy little knick-knacks and candies at the dollar store and hide them all around the house and yard while your kids are out. Then, draw a map with directions or clues to finding these treasures. Nothing brings as much excitement as a search for treasure!

Watch Family Videos

If you’ve got old family videos stored up in the attic, then bring them out for the entire family to enjoy. Everyone will definitely get a kick out of seeing what you all looked like a decade ago.

Host a Magic Show

Head to the local library and borrow a book on beginner magic tricks. You can choose to study the tricks on your own or even teach one of your older children how to perform a few tricks. After dinner, you can put on a magic show for the entire family to enjoy!

Create an Obstacle Course

There’s no need to stay indoors all the time. Head out to the backyard and grab some old tires, buckets, rope and other objects lying around. Create an obstacle course for the entire family to play with!

Camp Out in the Backyard

If the weather permits, schedule a campout in your backyard. Pitch a tent, cook your food on the grill and tell ghost stories until you can barely keep your eyes open.

Play Paintball

Water guns are pretty inexpensive toys. Purchase a water gun and a different color of dye for each family member. Set up your weapons, put on your oldest clothes and enjoy a game of DIY paintball!

These are just some of the many fun and inexpensive activities you can enjoy with your spouse and kids. With a little creativity, you’ll definitely come up with activities your entire family will remember for years to come!

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Photo Credit: iClipart

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Does Your Youth Sports Team Need a Sponsor?

Do your kids participate in organized sports activities?  Do you have a Murphy USA gas station in your town?  If you answered yes to both questions then your team could qualify for a $150 sponsorship from Team Murphy USA!

Each store location will sponsor one team from any type of sport (baseball, soccer, basketball, etc) and there are LOTS of available sponsorships left in my area – go to the Team Murphy USA website to see if there are sponsorships available in your area too!  Click here to see the team sponsorship guidelines and get started on your team's application.

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Our Constitution Day Project

We enjoy doing lots of after school craft activities with the kids and this week we chose a project in honor of Constitution Day, officially celebrated today to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.

Before the kids got home I shopped for the supplies then got our folding craft table set up and ready to go.  To prepare I went to an educational website about the U.S. Constitution and printed some coloring pages for the kids to do, as well as some actual photographs of the pages of the constitution that we could glue to our display.  The kids had a great time coloring these pages:

We used the coloring pages as talking points to discuss why we need rules and laws and how we choose the people who are in charge of creating and upholding the laws in this country.

Next, we let the kids cut out the pictures of the Constitution pages and they used Elmer’s washable school glue sticks to stick them in place on the tri-fold display board.

I really like the disappearing purple glue sticks that we used because the kids can see at a glance where they’ve placed the glue and whether they have enough on the paper before sticking their masterpieces on the board.  They were all so proud of their individual artwork that they insisted on signing them before we were finished and couldn’t wait to pose with the final project!

Disclosure – This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Elmer’s #gluenglitter #collectivebias, however all thoughts and opinions are  my own.