summerfun.jpg Summer vacation is finally here for most kids across the country. It’s a time when students can go to camp, spend days at the pool or just hang around the neighborhood. But somehow it always seems that at least a few times each summer, parents hear their children wail, “I’m bored!” The latest water toys or squirt guns – often costing mom and dad a pretty penny, may tempt them. Luckily, there are literally hundreds of different DIY projects parents and kids can make for fun outdoor play, from homemade slip and slides to extra messy games that will make for hours and hours of fun for your little ones. Check out some of these awesome – and super easy – outdoor DIY activities for kids of all ages.

Make bubbles that bounce instead of pop

Kids of all ages love bubbles and no summer would be complete without efforts to make them bigger and better than ever. Instead of doing the traditional “make bubble blowers out of household items” activity, work with your children to make bubbles that bounce – and take more than just a tiny poke to pop. This recipe calls for traditional bubble mix ingredients, except that it has to “set” for 24 hours – after which your children will be able to blow huge bubbles that are seemingly indestructible.

Play synchronized snack toss game

There’s nothing kids love more than getting messy and this game will have them giggling all day long. Players will be split into teams of two; their first task will be to cover one teammate’s head with a shower curtain, rubbing as much shaving cream on it as possible. If that’s not fun enough, the goal of the game is for the non-capped teammate to throw cheese puffs at their capped-friend – the winning team being the one that has the most puffs still stuck on the shaving cream hat at the end. Make sure to let kids take turns being the capped and uncapped person, as both roles are equally fun.

Build a water blob

A DIY “water blob” is literally a large clear tarp folded over and filled with water that children can bounce and slide on. Younger children will love jumping on the blob and watching the water spread inside while older kids may add a bit of soap to make a slipper play pad (watch out as small children could slip and fall if going this route). Try adding some blue food coloring when you fill the tarp with water – the sun will make it fade over time, giving you a teachable moment about how the sun can affect the color of things. See the full instructions here.

Turn a pizza box into a solar oven

Speaking of fun teachable moments, this project is an awesome way to teach children about the power of the sun and heat. This video shows how to build a solar oven out of a pizza box, plastic wrap and some tin foil. There are other DIY solar boxes out there, but this one lets children watch their food cook through the clear wrap. Let children experiment with making different foods in the oven – s’mores is one popular item that works perfectly as the sun melts the chocolate and makes marshmallows nice and soft.

Create a beach wind chime

Spending a day at the beach is a rite of passage for kids across the country – whether it’s a local lake or a trip to the ocean. One fun way to use those neat shells and rocks that the kids collect is to build a natural wind chime reminiscent of the sea. This blogger used light crafting wire to create strands of shells and other beach mementos. She then wound the ends around a piece of driftwood, perfect for completing the nautical theme. Twine or string may a bit easier for kids to do on their own, but the shells may not be as secure this way.

Build an insect house

Lots of children love looking for bugs around the yard; in the past, we may have put insects in plain jars for a little bit before releasing them back into their natural habitats. This DIY insect house is a fun project for kids as it allows them to express their creativity and learn empathy for the bugs that may reside there in the future. While building the house is a tad more labor intensive than other DIY projects, it’s worth it. Just find an old oatmeal or other round container, paint and some nylon window screen (make sure kid are supervised when cutting and attaching the screen). Once their unique houses are complete, the kids will be digging around the yard for the rest of the day.

Go fishing in a tin foil river

This easy activity works especially well for families that live on or near a slight slope, as the water will travel more naturally “down stream.” The idea is to build a long “river” out of plain tin foil, bending it ever so slightly in the middle to create a bit of a riverbank. Then send toy fish, boats and ducks down the stream and encourage children to try to fish for them. Younger children may enjoy sitting with a bucket of toys to splash around with, while older kids could use nets or homemade poles to “catch” the toys.

Build a pool noodle croquet game

Pool noodles are cheap and versatile – they can be made into so many things! In this kickball croquet game, children kick larger balls through pool noodle loops. Simply cut pool noodles in half down the middle and use garden stakes to make arches on the lawn. Kids will have hours of fun trying to kick their ball through the croquet course – first one to get through the course wins! Try making different sized arches and experimenting with different types of sports balls to make things really interesting.