5 fun family activities that will blow your kids' minds

Bust up the summer doldrums with an adventure in your neighborhood or by learning a new game.

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  • As the lazy days of summer wane, it's a great time for an excellent adventure you haven't tried before. There's probably a bunch of them close to home. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking outside the house.

  • High-tech treasure hunt

  • Millions of geocaches are hidden around the world — some are in a quiet park, on a bustling street, or in your own neighborhood. Your smartphone is the treasure map. Sign up for a free account at geocaching.com and start hunting immediately.

  • Tips from the pros: Families with young kids will want to start by searching for bigger caches — they're usually easier to find — and bring something along if your kids like to trade. If your kids are older, they might enjoy the challenge of the microcaches — sometimes as small as a film canister.

  • Geocaching will introduce you to areas of your town you haven't appreciated before. Soon you'll be looking around for a great place to hide a cache of your own.

  • Unusual trip to the library

  • Along the lines of a treasure hunt, but more like a book exchange are Little Free Libraries. You have to find them, but they aren't hidden. More than 25,000 of these gems around the world invite people to "take a book, leave a book" as a grassroots literacy project. There's probably one near you. If not, you could build one.

  • Expand your circle

  • For a less-structured adventure, take a map and draw a circle with a radius of how far you can get in a certain amount of time whether that's an hour or an entire day. Then, choose your destination and explore your city. Or, try these five apps — they'll do the legwork for you, if you prefer. The goal is to try something new near you.

  • Play like a Viking

  • For a low-tech change of pace, make yourself a koob set. For setup, you'll need an eight-foot 4x4, two 1-inch dowels and five minutes with a saw. To mix things up, after your family is addicted to this new, fun game, take it to a different park every time you play.

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  • Summer sledding

  • Ice blocking is a great way to cool off on a hot day, and you'll get plenty of exercise lugging your ice back up the hill. You'll need a block of ice (more if you want to be able to sled at the same time), as many towels as ice blocks, and a grassy hill. Fold the towel and put it on the top of the ice and, voilà, you have a summer sled. It's quick and cheap, and your crew will be worn out long before your ice melts. Everyone will sleep well that night. A word of caution: Ice blocking has the same inherent risks as sledding. Make sure the landing area is clear; i.e., no buildings, boulders, railings, or roads.

  • Whatever you do, take advantage of the summer sun to play outside with the ones you love.

  • _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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Shelly Norman has worked as a journalist for 25 years, both on the editing and writing side. She has a bachelor's degree in communication.

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