16 summer hacks to keep your kids entertained and your sanity intact

Need to keep your sanity when school gets out? Try one of these fun activities to keep your kids happy and busy all summer long.

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  • This summer, you don't ever have to hear the dreaded words, "I'm bored." Just keep the supplies for this list of summer activities on hand and prepare for lots and lots of smiles.

  • 1. Clothesline volleyball

  • You don't have to have a volleyball court or even a net to play volleyball in your own backyard. Just string a clothesline from the house to the fence and mark boundaries with a couple soccer cones. For extra fun, choose a color-changing volleyball with colors that appear and disappear with the sun.

  • 2. Fishing in the pool

  • Fill a wading pool or large plastic bin with water, throw in some laminated fish with magnets glued on, and go fishing with a homemade fishing pole made from a stick, string, and magnet tied to the end of the string. This also doubles for an awesome matching game.

  • 3. Chalk photo shoots

  • Draw some chalk scenes on the sidewalk or driveway and take turns posing with your creations wearing costumes or using props. Take lots of pictures!

  • 4. Melting ice

  • Fill a Tupperware container with a variety of waterproof toys, top off with water, and freeze. On a hot day, put it outside and provide kids with a variety of tools (including warm water) to chip away at the ice so they can free their toys. To make the game last longer, put the ice in the shade.

  • 5. Extreme hopscotch

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  • This isn't your average hopscotch game. Instead of squares for players to hop to, draw out different shapes and symbols with instructions like "spin in place," "do five jumping jacks" or "shout hooray!"

  • 6. Lawn art

  • Spread an old sheet out on the yard, pinning it to the lawn with heavy objects or with a nail in each corner. Pour paint into foam dishes and lay out art implements like sponges, stamps and brushes. Let kids paint the sheet to their hearts' delight, though be warned: It can get messy. Make sure they're wearing clothes you don't care about.

  • 7. Drip, Drip, Drench

  • This game is self-explanatory once you know it's based on Duck, Duck, Goose. Use a sponge or glass of water so the person who is "it" can drip a drop of water on the head of each person in the circle. They'll pour the water or wring out the sponge over the head of one person who then must get up and chase the "it" person, trying to tag him before he reaches the open spot in the circle.

  • 8. Soap boat races

  • Use squares of soap and little homemade sails made from toothpicks and a triangle of fabric to make your soap boats. If you don't live near a natural water source, your racetrack will be made from a length of gutter, which can be purchased inexpensively from a home improvement store. Put your gutter on the lawn and position your garden hose so water pours down it, creating the current for your soap boat race.

  • 9. Clown targets and squirt guns

  • Create a squirt gun range with laminated pictures attached to long, thin sticks stuck in the grass. Fill squirt guns with colored water to make it easier to tell when they've hit their marks, or place the sticks very shallowly in the grass so they'll tip over when hit with a direct spray.

  • 10. Sponge Bullseye

  • Draw a big target on your driveway with points assigned to each ring. Let kids throw wet sponges, trying to make a bullseye, and add up the points to see who the best sponge-slinger is.

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  • 11. Color-changing shirts

  • Color-changing shirts could well be your new favorite babysitters. With colors that fade or appear depending on sun exposure, kids will keep themselves entertained all day long running in and out of the house, watching their T-shirts change colors in the sun.

  • 12. DIY slip-n-slide

  • Creating your own slip-n-slide is easy. All you need is a tarp, some shampoo and a water source. The shampoo is necessary to make the tarp slippery enough to slide on. Get some from the dollar store — you'll probably need the whole bottle.

  • 13. Frisbee Tic-Tac-Toe

  • Make Tic-Tac-Toe more fun and challenging with this fresh take on a traditional childhood game. Divide a sheet or tablecloth into the nine traditional squares with colored tape. Players take turns throwing frisbees from a distance, trying to land three in a row.

  • 14. Sponge ball toss

  • Give your kids some extra entertainment by playing toss with a sponge ball soaked in water. Amp up any other sport by replacing the ball with a sponge ball: sponge ball tag, sponge football, sponge ball soccer, sponge ball baseball…the list goes on!

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  • 15. Yard scrabble

  • For a fun family game, print letters on large cards and distribute them to players. Take turns spelling words out on the grass, the winner being whoever can use up all her letters the fastest.

  • 16. Water relay

  • Challenge kids to fill the bucket with water wrung from a sponge, have them try to carry a full bucket between their knees for a certain distance, or use it for its traditional purpose on a trip to the beach. There are all kinds of water relays to choose from, but what better way to make it extra fun than with a bucket that changes colors in the sun?

  • _Del Sol is your fun-in-the-sun expert! Check out their line of color-changing sunglasses, flip-flops, T-shirts and more at delsol.com

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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