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DIY Cool

Beat the heat (and entertain the kids) with these easy do-it-yourself ideas.

This summer’s first heat wave is on its way out (thank goodness!), but with three solid months of summer rolling out before us, you know it won’t be the last.

If you have a backyard pool, or a membership to a community pool, you have a chance at some relief when Mother Nature cranks up the thermostat, but what about us pool-less families? Are we doomed to be stuck indoors in front of the air conditioner or window fan?

Here are some great ways to beat the heat, and get your kids active and outside.

Make-your-own sponge bombs – All you need are some (new, clean) kitchen sponges, a pair of scissors and a few lengths of fishing line. Cut the sponges into four strips. Make a row of four strips, then layer on a second row of four. Let the kids play with mixing and matching the colors. Take a length of fishing line and tie the strips together in the center, as tightly as possible. “Squish. Soak. Throw. Play.” Sponge bombs also make great inexpensive pool toys.

Water blob tutorial – Although this project will probably only last about a day, the fun your family has in that one day will be worth the small expense and effort to set it up. You’ll need to take a trip to Home Depot to pick up a roll of plastic sheeting and a roll of duct tape. Unroll the plastic sheeting (when you get home, of course), and fold it in half, like a hamburger bun. Tape closed the three open sides, leaving a space big enough to fit a garden hose. Be generous with the tape, you don’t want any leaks. Fill the blob up with water, and maybe some food coloring if you want. Then tape the hole shut and have at it! If it springs a leak, don’t worry, just patch it up with duct tape. If it springs a large leak, the fun is probably over.

Make-your-own freeze pops – Let your kids pick out their favorite fruit, stir into yogurt and freeze. If you don’t have Popsicle molds, try paper cups, shot glasses or even just a plain old ice-cube tray. For the sticks, use toothpicks, wooden dowel rods or plastic spoons. The kids will love having their very own personalized freeze pops.

Ice-cube watercolor painting – Fill an ice-cube tray with water, and mix watercolor paints into each reservoir. Freeze overnight. Lay out paper or fabric, and let your kids get creative with color while the cubes melt. What’s left at the end is sure to be a masterpiece!

DIY water wall – This project takes some planning and a bit more effort than some of the others, but after you build it the kids can play with it all summer so it’ll be worth it. You’ll need a wall – a section of wooden fencing, peg board, the front of a wooden pallet would even work – as well as an assortment of plastic containers, a drill, some screws and a few little helping hands. If you want to get really serious, add some lengths of hose, tubing or PVC pile to transport water from one container to the next. Work out how the water will flow from top to bottom, side to side, from container to container, and then attach your containers to the water wall. Remember you can modify some of your containers if you want, like making a boat out of a two-liter soda bottle or cutting a margarine tub in half. 

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