100 ideas to fill your summer

1. Go to Lincoln Park Zoo – hands down, the best free zoo around.

2. Trace your body with chalk on the sidewalk, color in funny faces and clothes.

3. Have a talent show-raid your stash of old Halloween costumes to get started.

4. Dig for worms.

5. Plant a small vegetable garden. Use starter plants to get going quickly. Need tips for reaping — and eating — what you sow? We’ve got those, too.

6. Keep a journal of what you do this summer.

7. Visit the LaGrange Pet Parade at 9:30 a.m. June 5 to see local pets hit the streets.

8. Camp out in the backyard.

9. Make s’mores. Then make some more!

10. Visit the Chicago History Museum on a Monday when it’s free.

11. Take a nature hike. Collect fun stuff to make a nature collage.

12. Set up a lemonade stand. Get squeezing with these ideas.

n Pick a good, safe location. If your house isn’t on a street with lots of foot traffic, try one of these ideas: church or temple parking lots after worship services, Little League baseball or soccer games, the local supermarket, outside your community swimming pool or recreation center. Make sure to get permission first.
n Wash hands, tie back long hair and wear a clean apron to protect clothing from spills.
n Have plenty of ice on hand in an insulated cooler. Use a ladle or tongs-not kids’ hands!-to serve ice. Use plastic or paper cups and keep a covered garbage can nearby for trash.
n Get attention! Decorate your stand with brightly colored balloons, streamers and pinwheels.
n Have a sturdy box with a lid to hold your money. You’ll need a small bank to start so that you can make change.
n Be polite and cheerful. Smile at your customers and thank them for stopping by, even if they don’t buy anything.
n Here’s a recipe to get you started:
6 lemons, juiced
1 cup sugar, or to taste
4 cups cold water
1 lemon, cut into slices
Ice cubes
In a large pitcher, combine the lemon juice and sugar; stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. For pink lemonade variation, add a few drops of red food coloring or grenadine syrup. For honeyed lemonade variation, substitute honey to taste for the sugar. For more recipes, go to sunkist.com/takeastand/success. (Tips and recipe courtesy of Sunkist)

13. Grab some blankets, drape them over the low branches of a tree and make a tree house.

14. Get your friends and neighbors together-have a parade with the decorated bikes.

15. Make a compost bin. Use the worms you dug up.

16. Make pancakes for dinner-add chocolate chips for a sweet treat.

17. Have a neighborhood baseball game. Make it Cubs vs. White Sox.

18. Run through a sprinkler.

19. Grab a flashlight and go on a night hike-search for moths and nighttime bugs.

20. Bake some brownies to sell at the garage sale.

21. Learn to tie your shoes.


22. Round up the pooches. Have a dog wash.

23. Pull out the slip ‘n’ slide and slip away for an afternoon.

24. Decorateyour bike.

25. Help a neighbor.

26. Stay up late and look for the Big Dipper.

27. Have a picnic. Let everyone plan and help make the food. Bring a Frisbee.

28. Catch fireflies.

29. Paint a birdhouse.

30. Go to the beach-the best sandbox in Chicago. Check out our favorite Chicagoland beaches.

31. Collect photos and buy an inexpensive album. Create a family album.

32. Jump rope.

33. Learn to swim. Visit yourpark districtor YMCA forlessons.

34. Go rollerblading.

35. Learn more about stars at the Adler Planetarium.

36. Walk barefoot through the grass.

37. Play Ghost in the Graveyard while you’re up late.

38. Take a bike ride.

39. Have a bubble gum-blowing contest.

40. Have a car wash with bikes.

41. Visit the library. Find the public library closest to you here.

42. Make homemade bubbles to blow.

43. Go to a baseball game-inexpensive minor leagues abound in the area.

44. Go swimming.

45. Clean up your neighborhood. Pick up litter.

46. Paint a terra cotta pot and plant a flower.

47. Have a water balloon fight.

48. Paint a rock family.


49. See a baby mammoth at the Field Museum, where Lyuba the Ice Age baby is on display. Read our review.

50. Have a fashion show with your friends. Take lots of pictures.

51. Visit the new Great Bear Wilderness at Brookfield Zoo. Watch our video for a preview.

52. Go on a scavenger hunt.

53. String beads.

54. Make popsicles with Kool-aid or juice, paper cups and popsicle sticks.

55. Grab a camera, take a walk and photograph nature.

56. Put on a skit.

57. Have a barbecue.

58. Get out the squirt guns and get wet.

59. Look for butterflies. See them upclose at Notebaert Nature Museum or read blogger Amy Bizzarri’s review.

60. Collect flowers to press and frame.

61. Gather pillows and blankets and make a fort.

62. Read a book.

63. Clean out your toy box.

64. Have a garage sale with all the extra toys. Need some tips to get started? Click here.

65. Fly a kite. Need suggestions? Check out readers’ favorite places to fly a kite.

66. Make popcorn and watch a movie.

67. Have game day in the backyard. Make it board games if it rains.

68. Send a care package to the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

69. Take a hike in a forest preserve.

70. Learn about storms at the Museum of Science and Industry’s new Science Storm exhibit. Read our review.

71. Learn how tospell your name insign language.

72. Learn a magic trick.Darien dad Tim Balster knows a thing or two about magic. He and his wife Robin have spent the last 25 years performing magic shows around the world. Here’s a simple trick from Tim to get your kids started creating a little magic of their own:

  • Draw a circle and two stars on a rectangular piece of paper. Then tear it into three pieces and place the pieces in a hat or a bag. The magician is blindfolded and asked by the audience to pull out either a piece with a star or a circle. To the amazement of the audience, the magician gets it right every time.
  • To prepare, see figures A, B and C. Draw circles and stars in the corresponding positions on a rectangular piece of paper.
  • To perform, show the paper with the drawings on it. Tear it into three pieces and place them in the hat or bag. Have someone blindfold you and request either a circle or a star to be pulled from the bag. The secret is that the circle will have two ragged edges. The stars will only have one ragged edge. All you have to do is feel for the correct number of ragged edges.

73. Get up early and watch the sunrise. Even better, head to the beach super-early to watch the sun come up over the water.

74. Play at the park.

75. Write a letter to a friend or relative.

76. Go on a bug hunt.

77. Learn something new.

78. Build a sand castle.

79. Visit the Bean at Millennium Park. Splash in Crown Fountain. Don’t forget a towel.

80. Play loud music. Have a dance party.

81. Have a cultural day. Learn about another country on the Internet or at the library. Plan a meal in honor of your chosen country. For more ideas on visiting ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago, click here.

82. Make a dandelion bouquet.

83. Tie-dye a shirt.

84. Learn to do a headstand. Make it a handstand if you’re really talented.

85. Make a kazoo from a paper towel roll, waxed paper and rubber band. Have a marching band parade.

87. Inflate your wading pool and throw a pool party.

88. Go bird-watching. Learn to identify different kinds of birds.

89. Stay up late and tell ghost stories. Make it silly stories if the kids are little. Let everybody add a line to the story-see how scary or silly you can get.

90. See a concert in the park. Check Chicago Parent’s calendar for one near you.

91. Make sock puppets. Put on a show.

92. Make your own yummy ice cream sandwiches. Soften ice cream, smoosh between two cookies, roll edges in mini-chocolate chips. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in freezer until ready to eat.


93. Play hopscotch.

94. Make a volcano with stuff from your recycle bin and some homemade playdough. Mix vinegar and baking soda and prepare for explosions. Add food coloring for special effect.

95. Pick berries and other seasonal fruit. Search “u-pick” on our site for where to go.

96. Learn to whistle.When it comes to whistling-and just about any other sound you can make with your mouth-we turned to the expert: Fred Newman, author of the book MouthSounds: How to whistle, pop, boing and honk. Here are his step-by-step tips to a Pucker Whistle:

  1. Relax your tongue on the floor of your mouth, setting the front edge of it against the back of your bottom teeth.
  2. Pucker your lips slightly. Don’t exaggerate the pucker. All you really need to do is form a small, round opening in the center, between the lips.
  3. Blow, gently-as if you were romantically blowing out a lighted match in front of your lips. Blowing hard only distorts the whistle.

If you have trouble producing a whistle, look in the mirror as you try. Open and close the small hole between your lips ever so slightly, make it as round as possible. (Be sure your tongue is out of the way of the center hole.) Try tensing your lips into a more “pointed” pucker and vary your lip tension.

97. Take a sketch pad outside and draw a picture of your house.

98. Make paper airplanes. Fly them outside.

99. Write 10 things you like about someone and send it to them.

100. Relax!

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