Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh what do you do in the summertime?

Ahh the joys of summer! The little ones (and maybe even a few big ones) are home for THREE LONG MONTHS! For me, this was my personal Nirvana, I totally dug it that the offspring were home and we could finally go play. Why? Because I live in sunny California, home of fantastic places to see and wondrous things to do!

So here we go, a list of S'mee's favorite haunts for summertime fun with little and medium, and well heck, large sized offspring and neighborhood foundlings of all sizes. (Most, granted are in SoCAL, however this list of links can inspire you to find places within your own state that are fun, free, and worth the drive to explore.)

May I suggest a cultural Summer Safari? It seems that a few museums have gotten together and offer up a plethora of fun activities tied to together so that you can drag the group from one place to another over a few weeks time. Collect stamps in a passport, see all kinds of grown up museum type things, a bunch of animal and insect type things, and if you make it through the entire safari earn a prize! Seriously, this sounds like fun to me.

One of my all time favorite places to visit is also FREE! The Getty! Parking is $8.00 Now let me tell ya, if you have never been there the $8 is chump change for the experience. You must go if you are in the area, and plan to stay ALL day. There is plenty to see and places to eat. It does work out better for older kids, but if your kids have any attention span they could enjoy this too.
For a GREAT listing/resource for SOCAL Museums and art galleries try the The ART Scene. You can find over a hundred different galleries, museums, and all the info you'll need to get there; map, fees, links to the website, everything. There are TOO many of my favorites to post about, go and scan through to see what looks good to you!

California Freebies is a good source for FREE things to do. Full of coupons, discounts and um, free things to do, this list is worth the click. (go to ASK or Google and see what's free in your area)

The La Brea Tar Pits is totally fun for pretty much every one. Adult admission is $7.00 Seniors 62 and older and Students with I.D. get in for $4.50. 13-17 years old: $4.50 and children 5-12 years old: $2.00. Members and Children under 5: Free. Parking is $6.00 with validation from the museum in the museum parking lot.

The California Science Center used to fascinate my kids to no end, or "know" end if you look at it right. It was pretty much fun for me too! Right next door to Exhibition Park (home of the L.A Olympics) the permanent exhibits are FREE! and there is an IMAX movie theatre on site to watch cool movies on. If you have never seen a movie at an IMAX, make this the summer to it. Very cool, and the kids will dig it.

The Parent Zone has links and a search engine for many locations across the U.S. that help a frustrated mom find just the right activity for little ones. There are also discussions, blogs, and articles from moms all over with ideas that have been home tested on their own kids! Check it out. Fabulous!

Is your family into the Civil War or early American history? How would kids like to meet Ben Franklin? Then a trip to Riley's Farm in beautiful Oak Glen in the Inland Empire has activities your family will remember for years to come. Check out their calender for summer long fun in the cool apple groves of this quaint mountain community. There are plenty of apple farms in the area that provide opportunities to learn about farming and the apple industry as well. Stroll through the free "zoo" and community museum, then have some pie and cider.

Historic Julian is another gorgeous tiny town, this one nestled in San Diego County, where history lives on a daily basis. Fishing, wandering through stores, waiting for skits, gazing at brights stars in the night and seeing reenactments daily...all in a days visit. While you're there don't forget to visit the Indian Museum, Mission, gold digging, wolf center, horse back riding, bird watching, boat, it just doesn't end!

Want to just stay home a few days? Child Parenting (and also here) has a list of links that goes on and on with ideas for k-6 craft ideas from many different sources, Martha Stewart to moms just like you.

Nutriwize and the American Council on Exercise has a couple of ideas that will get the kiddies off the couch and up and moving. They also have recipes, a health calculator, fit facts and links that may interest the entire family.

If you are in the southern most part of the state this link will give you 50 Free things to do in San Diego!

Rocky Mountain high? Check out the free things to do in Vail Colorado!

Mommy Savers has more lists f fun summer activities that range from "rice craft, silly slime, tye dye, and no sew projects; the list is pretty cool and labeled "FRUGAL". Wahoo!

Stretcher as in Dollar has a list of 200!!! free tings to keep kids from using the "B" word this summer. Check. It. Out.

California Observatories offer great opportunities during the day and after dark for summer fun that can open new horizons up to your children.

Total Escape offers hundres of links for places to explore California from camping to hiking and off roading and even shopping experiences.

3rd Street Promanade has street performers and shops, restaraunts, and the beach within walking distance. All of my kids enjoy this famous pedestrian mall still! Great for all ages.

Summertime is the perfect time to take the kids out to your local Framer's Markets. After a visit here take the kids to the back yard and help them plant a small Farmer's Market of their own. Plant now for pumpkins in the fall!

Something really fun is to plant watermelons and pumpkins now and in a few weeks when the actual fruit has begun to arrive tuck the tiny little melon through a hole in a LARGE plastic jug or water bottle to finish growing inside. When the fruit has filled up the inside of the jug, they can cut the stem and show their friends their "bottled fruit".

One of my favorite childhood memories is of the 4th of July. Partially because for a few years our family would ride the train from Oceanside south to Del Mar for the day. Why not find a way to ride the train this summer with your family? California Trains gives you many options from historic trains and museums to destination trips. You can also give your kids just that one day trip into town via the Amtrack.

Ghost Towns! can be a way to teach history and have a fun day in the desert. This list has many to choose from.

Looking for festivals or fairs? June, July, and August!

Sometime you just need to DRIVE! to a Small Town. has great links for Recycling Crafts.

Olvera Street! bueno!

A few more tips from S'mee: Do you need a half hour to yourself? Grab a bucket, fill it with water and give your kids a paint brush or roller and have them "paint" the porch. The water will change the colour of the stucco and cement on the walk and keep them occupied so you can go to the bathroom alone. You can also make an assignment and tell them you want them to paint you a picture, write the alphabet, or draw certain animals on the driveway.

Do your kids argue? Put one on each side of a window and have them wash the windows until they become friends again. After a few minutes they will either kill each other or laugh at each other.

Use rubbing alcohol and food colouring to dye dry noodles for stringing. Just put noodles in a ziplock bag, add a few drops of food colouring and a few drops of the alcohol, zip, and shake to dye. Empty the bag onto a paper towel and dry in the sun or on the counter. It only takes about ten minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and they can begin stringing necklaces and friendship bracelets. Use kite string. Cut a length and dip the end in melted wax, twist the end and allow it to dry into a nice "needle".

You can use the same method to dye dry rice for "sand" painting.

Grab some free or nearly free plain ceramic tiles from your local tile store and have the kids paint them with glass paints that can be heat set in your home oven. These can be set aside as hot plates to give Gramma at Christmas. Paint little hands and feet and place on the tiles for mementos of how small they are this summer.

Get thee to a lake or pond and grab a few tadpole and polliwogs. Put them in a container and watch them turn into frogs and toads!

Watch some National Geographic videos with the kids. See if you can replicate the same experience in your yard or neighborhood. (star gazing, beaver ponds, etc.)

Teach your kids how to crochet and help them make tote bags (thanks Kevin) out of plastic bags from the local stores. Or teach older kids how to fuse plastic into a wallet and sew their own shopping totes. Addition tutorial thanks to Eclipse...Fused Totes

Grab some heavy sand paper and old crayons. Have the kids colour geometric shapes on the sand paper. Make sure to emphasis that the crayon should be thick on the sand paper and cover the entire surface. Once they have finished colouring their shapes, have them put the sand paper outside for the afternoon. The heat of the day should melt the crayon into the grit of the paper and make a beautiful piece of art work. If the day is too cool, you can bake the art in your oven at 200 degrees for a few minutes until the crayon melts. Let the paper cool and then allow the kids to show off their work!

Speaking of old crayons you can use candy molds to remake your old crayons. Let the kids choose which designs they want. Mom or dad will need to slowly melt the crayons and pout it into the mold. Place it in the freezer for a few minutes and the crayons pop right out ready to use.

Give your kids little boxes and containers and tell them you need them to make a house or furniture for their dolls. Give them plenty of scrap fabric, paper and glues, glitter and beads, and whatever else you can find around the house.

Grab a stack of card stock or even blank 5x7 index cards, some rubber stamps, ink, pens, and other art supplies. Have your kids make pretty cards to give to the local Convalescent home for their dinner trays. They can make holiday cards to share as well.

Help your kids get a taste for volunteering by finding a local charity and asking what you can donate or gather for the needs of the facility. Have your kids make posters or flyers asking the neighborhood to join in and see how quickly they can help out.

Well this ends the worlds longest post. Have a great summer y'all.

UPDATE!!! Found one more spot that has great ideas: Crayola! Lots of fun things to create.

add to sk*rt


melissa c said...

Those are WONDERFUL ideas! WOW! I am going to use some of these!

chronicler said...

this has to be the mother of all lists! Totally cool!

Sarah said...

I instantly bookmarked this post - I'll probably wear it out by the end of the summer - what a great stash of resources for the L.A. mom! I haven't been to Olivera Street yet but am going to try and make it down there next week with my little ones.

It always surprises me how much stuff around here I've never done. I just went to the L.A. Arboretum for the first time yesterday and am SHOCKED on how much I've missed out on in the three years I've lived here. I feel like I need to go every day for a month to make up for lost time there. It's fantastic for kids and I swear I'm never going back the The Huntington again.

Thanks again for the great mommy guide!

s'mee said...

Melissa, Thanks! I know most of them are for so Cal, but really, just googling or ASK will get you a ton of ideas! Good luck! crack me up.

Sarah, Thanks, I know what you mean. We are totally blessed to live within three hours of pretty much everything you need for the perfect life! But I have to argue on the Huntington, I still LOVE it there!

Have fun everyone!

Kim Carney said...

I wanna come stay at YOUR house for the summer ;)

s'mee said...

kim, call me, I'll give you directions!

Sally said...

I envy you still living in California. I miss Magic Mountain and Disneyland, and the beaches. There are things to do here, but we've done them all. Alas and alack. I like the washing windows idea, and the painting of the porch. We do have a nice big porch....

1stdaughter said...

This is totally cool! I can't wait until Jace is a little older and we can do some of the bigger kid stuff on the list.

Alan and I already love 3rd street and the getty. I have a funny story about the getty you'll have to ask me about some time, but I'm not going to put it in writing..hehe.

s'mee said...

Sally, Have oyu been out to the Buddist Temple yet? #5 loves to go there; it's down near Spanish Fork. WIth the internet you can google your state and find out a bunch of weird stuff I bet you have missed somehow. Try it and let me know.

1st, now you have me curious! lol, I can't wait to see you so I can hear the story. With Jace you can hit all the "quiet" places you can't go when he wants to run and climb on antiquities! Have you been down to the original site of the Getty? It's great as well.

I have seen those plaster casting kits for baby hands and feet, nows the time to use those too! OH! and (I love this) I have seen many folks who take a set photo each week (like Maren and her "Sunday Photos) so that you can chrnicle Jace's small growth. Try one certain space in the house or a certain piece of furniture...whatever. You egt the idea. lol

Maren said...

We have so much to do back East in my neck of the woods. So much that I hope to some day be able to share with Reilly. I live in between, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York. It's kind of in the middle. Then there is always Lancaster, which is my personal favorite. Closer to home, are many historical areas in Delaware, Maryland, and PA (I live on the corner of all 3 states). This truly is one my biggest current dreams--to be able to be an active participant in R's life and to take him to all of these fun places that I enjoyed while growing up.

Oh, and I'm glad you like my Sunday Morning Picture idea. I started doing that a few years ago when my mom had made him some new outfits for church. I would photograph him wearing them so she could see. She had made enough new clothes for him that he was wearing a different fun outfit each week, and each one needing a new photograph. After enough time of this, it just kind of became a tradition. I do love photos and I love looking back and seeing how much he has grown.

1stdaughter said...

Actually, you reminded me today is his 3 month date and so far every month I have taken a picture in his favorite spot...the swing. Its crazy to see how big he has gotten. I am starting to think I should do it more often since he is getting so big so fast.

Rick and Kara said...

S'mee, I'm Kara from the Pancakes and Pinesol blog. I love your blog! It's great! These ideas are fantastic and guess what...we're moving to San Diego at the end of this year. YAH! I'm so excited, now, to have all these great ideas and things we can do. I homeschool so this will be a valuable resource for me. Thanks!!