1. Transform old broken crayons into snazzy new Hot Car Crayons.
2. Make target shooting a sweet experience using homemade marshmallow shooters.
3. Mix up and shape your own bouncy ball.
4. Listen to a recording of an old radio show, like the original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds, then make your own audio story complete with narration and sound effects. Toss in some campy advertisements for extra fun.
5. Make Flarp. It’s said to have the same properties as Silly Putty, except it also farts. (You know this will be a hit.)
6. Paint without using your hands. Try taping the brush to a remote control toy, dangling it by a string, or rolling it across the paper. Or you might paint as this talented young artist does, by holding it in your mouth.
7. Make your own family board game. Keep it simple for small ones, add twists and more complex questions for older kids. Together you can incorporate inside jokes, everyone’s names, favorite places around town, whatever your family decides. Better yet, step back to let the kids make their own game without help.
8. Create art out of salt and glue.
9. Save cardboard tubes, boxes, string, and other supplies to make your own robots. Light-up LED eyes would really enliven this project.
10. Make all sorts of paper airplanes. You might rely on The World Record Paper Airplane Book for design ideas. Consider rolling out some butcher paper so your kids can make a paper airport. Or write messages in your planes and deliver some (you knew the pun was coming) air mail. Open an upstairs window, guess where the planes will land, then fling. Or just go ahead and stage paper airplane races.
11. Play Angry Birds in your backyard.
12. Let your kids set up a mudpie kitchen.
13. Make geodes out of eggshells and Epsom salts.
14. Use a bleach pen to decorate t-shirts, pillow cases, hats, tote bags. A plain dark-colored background gives the best results.
15. Turn milk jugs into Stormtroopers.
16. Make a movie. Remember Spielberg started making movies as a kid so make sure you save your child’s film for posterity, just in case fame hits.
17. Use an old clay pot to make a toad house in the yard.
18. Make your own “lava lamp.”
19. Hang water-filled balloons from your backyard swing set or low tree branch as splashy pinatas.
20. Grab a bag of mini marshmallows and a few boxes of toothpicks, then let the kids make their own fantastic geometric sculptures. The marshmallows hold the toothpicks firmly. In a few days they’ll shrink and make the sculptures even more durable.
21. On a rainy day, use washable window markers to play tic tac toe or hangman or draw some sunshine.
22. Make homemade playdough using one of these six recipes. No mess to clean up indoors when they use it on a picnic table.
23. Learn easy magic tricks using these online tutorials.
24. Use household items to make giant bubble snakes.
25. Play games safe enough for little ones using pool noodles. First cut a few pool noodles in half. Toss balloons across the yard. Chances are they’ll come up with games on their own. If they need a little nudging, suggest goals like cooperative lifting of balloons to see how far they can carry them together.
26. Race balloon rockets.
27. Make a few sock puppets. Add features like ping pong ball eyes , yarn hair, and cardboard mouth. For more ideas grab a copy of Puppet Play: 20 Puppet Projects Made with Recycled Mittens, Towels, Socks, and More. Once your puppets are ready, create a theater out of a large cardboard box, practice a few scenes, then put on a performance.
28. Make fairies and superheroes out of wooden clothespins.
29. Set up backyard bowling. Save 10 empty plastic bottles, set them up in a triangular pattern, then roll a ball toward them. This makes a satisfying clatter on the driveway. If you like, teach your kids how to keep score.
30. Rely on Fineas and Ferb for a new idea each day.
This is second in a series of idea-filled GeekMom summer posts. Catch the first, 30 Ideas For Outdoor Summer Fun. Still to come: summer fun food for geeklets and smart summer fun for geeklets. Collect them all!