Family Fun Month: Hiking

Exploring the outdoors is a wholesome activity for the entire family (including the dog) to enjoy. Hiking provides physical exercise, reduces stress, and boosts creativity.

Find the Right Trail

Before heading out, do your research. Find the right hiking trail for you and your family to safely enjoy. Trails generally run from easy to extremely difficult with numerous obstacles. Finding the best one for your family requires research. If you are uncertain about where to start, set out on an easy trail than work your way through the rest.

What to Pack

If you are just beginning, day trips are the best. Heading out on the trail for a day gives your family a chance to familiarize themselves with the trails and the equipment.

Do you need ideas for the basics for backpacking essentials for day trips?

  • Backpack: Use a high-quality backpack to protect your basic hiking necessities. Even younger children can carry a lightweight backpack.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is critical when hiking.
  • Food: Pack plenty of food to get you through your hiking trip. Small children may require frequent stops with extra snacks. Pack to meet each family members’ needs.
  • First Aid: Bringing a first aid kit is essential for handling minor scrapes and cuts on the trail.
  • Compass: Do not always rely on your cell phone. If your battery goes dead, you may need an alternative navigation device.
  • Hand Sanitizer: Use to clean your hands before eating.
  • Mask: Once you are on the open trail away from people, you will not need a mask. However, certain areas of the park may require a face covering. Be respectful of others. Pack a mask to follow any restrictions.
  • Extra Socks and Hiking Shoes: If you accidentally get your feet wet, having additional foot attire is a priority, especially with children. You want to make hiking a positive experience.

Before You Hit the Trail

Before heading to your destination, check the weather forecast. Dress in weather-appropriate clothing. Remember, clothing layers are the best option for being outdoors. If you are uncertain what to wear, add an extra layer. If the weather is too warm, a sweatshirt is easy to remove.

Have Fun

Hiking is not a race to get through the trails as fast as possible. Take your time with your family. Pause to view numerous scenic areas or enjoy nature.

Ask your children open-ended questions or make up stories. Being outdoors increases creativity. Encourage conversation among your family about the experience. Bring your camera or use your cell phone to take lots of photos to create a memory book. Wildlife and nature discoveries can lead to a lifetime love of the outdoors.

 

Celebrating the Summer Solstice

Most people associate the first day of summer with the 3-day Memorial weekend. But technically this year, on June 20, 2020, the northern hemisphere will officially begin the first day of summer. Staying light longer, the sun will finally reach the furthest northern point in the sky. The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year. After the summer solstice, the days will begin to lose light.

Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Different cultures have a wide range of traditions to welcome the summer. Unfortunately, due to recent health mandates, social distancing, and stay at home guidelines, many festivals and celebrations are canceled this year. But do not let all the restrictions keep you from celebrating the summer solstice.

  • Go Hiking: Numerous parks are open to the public. Yes, social distancing still applies to the trails, but you still can enjoy the great outdoors. Hike a new trail. Spend an extra hour outdoors. Hiking is good for the entire family. Even young children can enjoy easy trails. Of course, don’t forget your dog.
  • Go for a Walk: A simple walk around the block can be refreshing. Walk to your local park. The playground equipment may still be inaccessible. But enjoy the different paths throughout the park. If you are working, go for a short walk on your lunch break.
  • Enjoy Nature: Take a leisurely stroll in your local park to enjoy nature. Take along binoculars and a camera to capture your view. If you are allowed, pick wildflowers, collect rocks, and other nature items to use for craft projects later.
  • Meditate or Pray: Sitting outside in nature is the perfect time to reflect. Give yourself time to meditate or pray.
  • Watch the Sunrise or Sunset: Taking a moment out of your day to simply watch the sunrise or set, gives you a chance to relax and destress.
  • Cook a Feast: Okay, a simple BBQ or a picnic will do the trick. But cooking a meal and enjoying the celebration as a family is a great way to honor the changing season.
  • Host a Bonfire: If you haven’t used your fire pit this year yet, the summer solstice is the perfect day to start. Build a small fire, watch the sunset, and marvel at the stars. Oh, and don’t forget the chocolatey, marshmallow goodness of S’mores.
  • Celebrate Virtual: Due to restrictions, many popular sites, including Stonehenge, are celebrating the summer solstice online. Watch the sunrise or set, listen to music, or watch an event.

Regardless of the way you celebrate the solstice, enjoy the summer day. Summer goes by quickly. Soon, the cold weather will return.

August Photo Prompts

August is National Back to School Month and Family Fun Month. Incorporating these themes into your photo prompts to make a wonderful way to celebrate August. 

31 August Photo Prompt Ideas

  1. Selfie (always start the month with a new selfie)
  2. Current view
  3.  Beach
  4. Besties (Friendship Day)
  5. Green
  6. Beverage
  7. Something down low
  8. Skyscape
  9. Friday Fun
  10. Bonfire (S’mores Day)
  11. Relaxation
  12. Something up high
  13. Flowers
  14. Black and White
  15. Small
  16. Large
  17. Water
  18. Sunset/Sunrise
  19. Wish
  20. Travel
  21. School Supplies
  22. Signs
  23. Love
  24. Favorite Meal
  25. Ice Cream
  26. Clouds
  27. Rocks
  28. Nature
  29. Activity
  30. Vintage
  31. Good-bye to Summer

Use the prompt list as a guide to photographing the month of August. For additional fun, make the photo prompt quest a family activity. Or gather your friends to do the photo prompts and create a social media page. The photo possibilities are endless. Use your imagination and set out for an August adventure. 

Low Cost (or Free) Activities for Family Summer Fun

The school year is finally winding down. Warmer weather is the perfect time to engage in family activities. Do you need ideas for summer family fun for both sunny and rainy days? Check out the following list.

Rainy Day Activity Ideas

Rainy days do not need to be boring. Checking the weather ahead of time will help you plan for your rainy day fun.

  • Family Movie Night: Pick a movie, make pizza, or make popcorn.
  • Board Game Night: Video games are fun. But for a night, unplug from technology and host a board game night. Make snacks, make root beer floats, and enjoy each others’ conversation as you play games.
  • Go to Your Local Library: Check out the latest summer books, movies or other media. Most libraries host summer reading clubs or other events. Participating in a group is the perfect way to meet new friends while learning.
  • Craft Day: Check out Pinterest for summer craft ideas. Many craft supplies may be found at your local dollar store. Picking up a wide variety of craft items is a low-cost alternative for a rainy day.
  • Summer Journal: Summers go by fast. Set aside time to write. Even a local stop can easily turn into a page in your scrapbook. Jot down information about the place. Add pictures, stickers, and other memorabilia to your summer scrapbook. On a rainy day, relax and relieve the memory.
  • Summer Bucket List: Create a summer bucket list. Write down all the activities for you and family to enjoy over the warmer months.

Outdoor Activities 

Unplugging from your electrical devices may be necessary to recharge. Keep in mind; switching your mobile device is advisable. You may never know when an emergency may arise.

  • Nature Walk: Go for a nature walk. Look for summer birds, flowers blooming, and other wildlife. Take pictures. Just simply enjoy the sights and sounds of being outdoors.
  • Go Hiking: State and national parks have hiking trails available for the beginner to the expert hiker. Many trails are pet-friendly. Your dog will enjoy the change of scenery.
  • Go Geocaching: Geocaching is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Host a BBQ: Invite friends or extended family members to a BBQ.
  • Bonfire Night: Sitting around a bonfire is a great way to spend a summer evening. Make s’mores. Look at the stars. Chase fireflies.
  • Go Dog Walking: Walking your dog is a perfect exercise for both of you. If you do not have a dog of your own, many local dog rescues or shelters need volunteers to walk adoptable dogs. Who knows maybe you will find your new best friend.
  • Local Tourist: Be a hometown tourist for a day. When was the last time, you visited your local museum, art gallery, or other tourist sites?
  • Go to the Splash Park:  Splash parks or splash pads are a great activity to beat the summer heat. Pack a lunch and enjoy an afternoon outdoors.
  • Attend a Free Outdoor Concert/Movie Night: Many communities host numerous community events in the summer. Make an outdoor concert or a movie in the park part of your weekend fun.

Summertime activities can easily turn into long-lasting memories for your family or friends. Enjoy your time together.

 

90 Summer Bucket List Ideas

When most people think about a bucket list, images of faraway places generally come to mind. A summer bucket list is simply a way to enjoy each day to the fullest. Creating a list with your family or friends is a wonderful way to inspire a fun-filled summer.

90 Bucket List Ideas for Summer

  1. Plant flowers
  2. Keep a summer journal or scrapbook
  3. Attend summer activities including VBS, Science Camp, Library Events, or Art Classes
  4. Learn tennis or other summer outdoor sporting activities
  5. Play in the rain
  6. Visit a state or national park
  7. Go berry picking
  8. Make tye-dyed shirts
  9. Listen to a free, outdoor community concert
  10. Play a game of catch or Frisbee
  11. Take silly selfies with your family or friends
  12. Go to the library
  13. Ride a Ferris wheel
  14. Watch fireflies
  15. Read a book under a tree or on the beach
  16. Try kayaking or paddle boarding
  17. Go camping
  18. Roast marshmallows or make S’mores
  19. Attend a festival or fair
  20. Go to an amusement park for the day
  21. Go on a canoe or boat ride
  22. Play hide-n-seek
  23. Walk your dog or volunteer to walk dogs at the local shelter/rescue
  24. Try rollerblading or skateboarding
  25. Nap in a hammock or lawn chair
  26. Visit a waterfall
  27. Throw pennies into a wish fountain
  28. Create a summer playlist of your favorite songs
  29. Take a tour
  30. Go to the park for the day
  31. Watch a parade
  32. Visit a splash park or splash pad
  33. Try a Pinterest craft
  34. Go to the zoo
  35. Volunteer
  36. Make Root beer floats
  37. Go to the lake
  38. Go for a bike ride
  39. Have a water balloon fight
  40. Visit an aquarium
  41. host a scavenger hunt
  42. Go swimming
  43. Make sandcastles
  44. paint rocks
  45. Host a movie night
  46. Make homemade popsicles
  47. Go on a day trip
  48. Make homemade lemonade
  49. Host a photo shoot in your backyard
  50. Go Geocaching
  51. Do sidewalk chalk art
  52. Eat banana splits
  53. Watch a sunrise
  54. Make homemade playdough or salt dough
  55. Watch fireworks
  56. Use sparklers
  57. Visit a historical site
  58. Go to a drive-in or outdoor movie night
  59. Eat watermelon
  60. Go to a farmer’s market
  61. Avoid social media for a day or week
  62. Play in the sprinklers or on a slip-n-slide
  63. Go bowling
  64. Make homemade ice cream
  65. Play laser tag
  66. Fly a kite
  67. Host a BBQ
  68. Host a rainy day craft day
  69. Go on a picnic
  70. Watch a sunset
  71. Go horseback riding
  72. Go miniature golfing
  73. Go tubing, float down a river
  74. Lay out a blanket and star gaze
  75. Go on a nature walk
  76. Make a YouTube video
  77. Host a family board game night
  78. Join a summer reading group
  79. Paint picture of something in nature
  80. Make and host a paper airplane flying contest
  81. Make sun catchers out of Pony beads
  82. Go hiking
  83. Go to your local botanical garden
  84. Try a snow cone
  85. Eat a funnel cake or elephant ear
  86. Collect and send postcards
  87. Blow bubbles
  88. Go on a train ride
  89. Spend an afternoon visiting family members
  90. Sit outdoors and just listen to the sounds of summer

 

School’s out. The weather is warmer. Have fun and enjoy the upcoming summer days.

 

Boredom Busters: Creating a Summer Bucket List

School’s out! Now, what is the first thing you hear –“I’m bored.” Consider creating a summer bucket list with your children to help chase away the boredom. Keep in mind, the list should be ideas you are willing or able to do.

Creating the Bucket List

Make the summer bucket list a family project. Use a notebook or purchase a poster board to write out your ideas. Consider using a different colored marker for each child. Allow each family member to come up with different activities. Of course, younger children may need help with the writing part of the project.

Summer Bucket List Ideas

Summer bucket lists can be simple everyday items to planned vacation adventures. The choice is up to you.

  • Have a bonfire
  • Make S’mores
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Go to the zoo
  • Ride in a canoe
  • Have a slumber party
  • Get an ice cream cone
  • Go hiking
  • Have a pool party
  • Sleep in a tent
  • Listen to music in the park
  • Go to an amusement park
  • Go to the library
  • Volunteer
  • Ride a roller coaster
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Go skateboarding
  • Make root beer floats
  • Bake cookies
  • Paint rocks
  • Have an arts and crafts day
  • Have a Harry Potter movie marathon
  • Pick strawberries
  • Go to a lake
  • Go for a walk
  • Make art with sidewalk chalk
  • Go swimming
  • Visit grandma and grandpa
  • Day road trips
  • Visit an art gallery
  • Go to a museum
  • Go to a sporting event
  • Go to a splash park
  • Go to a fair or festival
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Make a fort
  • Go fishing
  • Go to petting zoo or local farm
  • Have a family game night
  • Cook a meal together
  • Take swimming lessons

If you are uncertain on the type of activities, become a tourist in your town or surrounding towns. Use an Internet search. Local activities often get overlooked. Providing you a chance to join in on the fun on a weekly basis, community activities are free or minimal costs to participate.

Stay Home: Tips for Enjoying a Long Holiday Weekend

Many Americans use the long Labor Day weekend as a chance to hit the road to their favorite travel destination. More and more individuals are opting to forego the hustle and bustle of holiday travel. Keep in mind, staying at home does not have to be boring. Use the time to relax or enjoy activities close to home. The simplistic nature of staying at home may be the best decision for you and your loved ones.

Tips for Enjoying a Stay at Home Weekend

  1. Unplug

Make the decision to spend time away from the computer. Everyday work, school or personal commitments keep you online. Even though you are staying home, act like you are on vacation.

  • Set your email message to out of town or out of the office.
  • Put your cell phone on vibrate.
  • Check your cell phone sparingly.
  • Stay off social media.
  • Leave your work at the office.
  1. Go Outdoors

Labor Day weekend is the unofficial end of summer. Use the time to go outdoors for activities other than lawn maintenance.

  • Go for a walk.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Go canoeing or kayaking.
  • Soak up the sun.
  • Lay in the hammock.
  • Watch the sunset while enjoying your favorite beverage
  1. Be a Local Tourist

When many people think of tourists, images of far off places come to mind. Be a local tourist. Holiday weekends usually bring special events. Using a little research of your hometown area, you may find enough activities to keep you busy all weekend.

  • Go to an art gallery.
  • Visit a museum.
  • Attend an outdoor concert.
  • Watch a parade.
  • Go to the local, state or federal park.
  • Attend a local fair or festival.
  1. Family Night

Hosting a family night is a great way to relax and spend time with your loved ones. Family nights can be a quiet evening with a movie or night out. Involving everyone in the final decision helps make the evening more fun.

  • Backyard camping
  • Pizza night
  • Movie marathon night
  • Special dinner night
  • Game night
  • Music night
  • Special activity night, for example, laser tag or bowling
  • Slumber party night
  • Complete a family project
  • Volunteer as a family

Using your imitation, the types of family nights are endless.

  1. Host a Party

Impromptu parties or barbeques create a last minute event. You are not alone in staying close to home on a holiday weekend. Ask family and friends to come over. Due to the last minute planning, go old school with the menu. Ask everyone to bring a dish to pass. The variety will be a refreshing break from a themed or planned menus.

Lack of funds, family commitments, or just a desire to relax without worrying about packing and driving, everyone has a different reason for staying home on a holiday weekend. Whether you decide to go out or simply relax on the couch all weekend, enjoy your decision to stay home.

Celebrating Harry Potter’s Birthday

I am a full believer in celebrating life. Small celebrations bring lasting memories. Every day our daily schedules and commitments keep us busy. Enjoying little moments is a necessity. For fans of the Harry Potter series, myself included, today, July 31st represents the fictional character, Harry Potter’s birthday. Along with Harry, J.K. Rowling celebrates her birthday today too.

In the book, Rubeus Hagrid provides Harry with a birthday cake on his 11th birthday. The simple scene from the Keeper of the Keys immediately ushers us into the magical world of Harry Potter. Why not incorporate his birthday into a family fun night? Or invite your friends for some magical fun.

  • Consider making a quick birthday cake as a special dessert treat.
  • Gather the family or friends around to watch the first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
  • Make wands.
  • Eat chocolate frogs.
  • Create your own owl, cat, or toad.
  • Have special snacks or cook an entire meal based on the Wizarding World’s cuisine.
  • Make magical themed crafts.

    Melt pony beads on old pizza pans to create large Harry Potter inspired sun catchers.
  • Need a quieter activity, reread the Harry Potter series or listen to the audio versions.

In a couple weeks, school, homework, sports and enforced bedtime routines will be part of your already full schedule. Take a moment to enjoy the little things and celebrate “The Boy Who Lived”.

Reference:

Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. London: Bloomsbury Children’s, 1997.

Summer Bucket List

When most people think about bucket lists, ideas of long exotic vacations usually come to mind. A bucket list can consist of anything. With the official kick-off of the summer season, why not create a bucket list to enjoy the warm months?

Now, school is out, the summer boredom’s probably are already setting in. Creating a summer bucket list can help discover new local sites and other fun activities. Allowing you to keep from hearing those words, “I am bored”.  In addition to chasing away the summer boredoms, you and loved ones will be given a chance to learn and explore.

Consider adding a variety of items to the list. Allow your children to help participate in creating the summer bucket list ideas may surprise you.

Outdoor Fun

Being a strong advocate of unplugging from electronic devices, being outdoors is a great way to spend a day or afternoon.

  • Go to the Park: Local and state parks can be an exciting getaway.
  • Go to the Splash Park: Many communities open splash parks. Playing in the water with peers is a great way to spend the afternoon.
  • Go Swimming or Take Swim Lessons: Being at the pool or at the beach is a perfect way to spend the day.
  • Go Hiking: Unplug for the day. Leave your electronic devices behind, well, except for a cell phone for emergencies.
  • Picnic: Go on a picnic. You do not need to pack a fancy picnic basket. Just go, peanut butter and jelly make a quick lunch. Enjoy the outdoors.
  • Stargazing: Spread out a blanket in the backyard at night to watch the stars. Popcorn and making up stories make a wonderful night out.
  • Attend Local Fairs and Festivals: Summertime is the perfect opportunity to attend local fairs and festivals. Many hold a theme, providing you with a chance to learn about different foods, culture or other interesting events.
  • Music in the Park: Local art councils generally host music in the park series. Attending the weekly concerts provide you and your family a chance to learn about new music genres.
  • Watch the Sunset: The beauty of a sunset or sunrise is a perfect memory.
  • Volunteer: Summertime generally brings numerous volunteer hours. Help clean up the environment. Volunteer your time at a local animal shelter, many need dog walkers. Volunteer your time at a nursing home. Even a couple hours a week allows you to try something new. For teens, volunteering looks good on college applications. You also get a chance to meet others outside of your normal group.

For Rainy Days

  • Museums: Look up local art, science and history museums. When was the last time you visited your hometown museum? Many museums have special kid days to try to get youth interested in specific genres.
  • Attend Workshops: Learning a new skill at any age is a benefit.
  • Host a Movie Marathon: Order pizza and spend an afternoon watching the Harry Potter series or other movie franchises.
  • Art Day: Spend a day creating art. Painting, sculpt, or drawing enhances the imagination.
  • Go to the Library: Local libraries usually host summer reading programs. Allowing your children to participate with others in the community.

A summer bucket list is only limited by your imagination. Life is short. Try something new. Spend the summer having fun.

 

 

 

Ice Cream Soda Day

Today, June 20, 2017, is Ice Cream Soda Day. Celebrating small unofficial holidays is a chance to enjoy every single day with a special twist. Let’s face it, the start of summer is always a fun and exciting time. Unfortunately, after being out of school for as little as a week, you may already hear those words, “I’m bored.” Taking advantage of the various unofficial holidays helps in chasing away the summer boredom and creates lasting memories.

Ice cream floats is a wholesome party idea. Consider hosting an impromptu ice cream soda party with friends and family. Or simply make ice cream sodas as a special treat for a warm evening. Regardless of the reason, enjoy the day.

Ice Cream Soda Ideas

The beauty of ice cream sodas is the endless mixtures. Providing a variety of flavors is a perfect way to host a successful ice cream soda party. Using cans of soda is ideal for eliminating wastes and saving money. Picking up different flavors enables your guests to mix with no limits. Larger bottles are great for bigger parties.

Consider these combinations to help create the perfect ice cream soda party.

  • Root Beer Float: Vanilla ice cream and root beer
  • Orange Dream: Vanilla ice cream and orange soda
  • Cherry Vanilla Fun: Cherry ice cream and crème soda
  • Chocolate Vanilla: Chocolate ice cream and crème soda

Along with ice cream, you may want to offer sherbet as an option to replace the ice cream. Some people may not be able to eat ice cream. Finding alternatives allows everyone to have fun.

In addition to ice cream and soda, offer toppings for extra fun.

  • Sprinkles
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Whip cream topping
  • Cherries

Adding toppings is half of the fun in building the perfect ice cream soda. Have fun creating.