How To Make a Catapult for Kids and Earn All the Cool Dad Cred

How To Build A Catapult
(Getty/Imgorthand)

Can you think of a medieval contraption that fascinates the young brain more than a catapult? Yeah, we can’t either. Remember in the 1988 cult classic Willow when Madmartigan uses one to fling himself onto the back of a troll and save our hero? Epic. Our obsession with catapults has been building since that formative scene took root in our early adolescent memories. It seems like an organic progression that here were are, as adults, Googling “how to build a catapult” so we can teach our kids. Or, you know, at least that’s the way we’re rationalizing our compulsion to send things flying through the air.

As luck would have it, building a catapult isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. Granted, we’re not talking about building one elaborate enough to launch yourself over castle walls during the Battle of Nockmaar, like Willow and co. But making a basic catapult is a fun and relatively easy DIY afternoon craft to do with your little Daikinis.

With that said, here are the basics of how to build a catapult — and different variations you can make.

How To Build A Catapult: Supplies

Your materials list will vary based on what type of catapult you want to create. Plus, part of the fun of building a catapult at home is using found objects around the house. The more creative, the better! Got a bunch of random LEGOs haunting your every late-night step? See if you can put them to better use. Do you keep finding arms popped off of action figures? There’s gotta be a way to incorporate those errant limbs. So, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it should get you going:

  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Popsicle/craft sticks
  • Straws
  • Paper clips
  • Clothespins
  • Chopsticks
  • Paper or plastic cups
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Bottle caps
  • Paper
  • Bowls
  • Tape
  • Hot glue guns and sticks (only under supervised use, of course)
  • Mini-marshmallows for launching

How to Make a Catapult with a Spoon

If your engineering skills are minimal — or your kid is still honing their fine-motor skills — a spoon catapult could be your best bet. Because, well, it can’t really get much easier. For this catapult, you just need your hot glue gun, a plastic spoon, colored electrical tape, and a wooden clothespin (the vintage style may work best here).

Squeeze your hot glue into the gap of the clothespin, sliding the handle of the spoon into the hot glue. Once the glue cools with the spoon affixed in place, wrap the area of the clothespin with the spoon handle in your electrical tape. Once everything is dried and secured, pop a mini-marshmallow into the spoon, and use your finger to bend the spoon back. The clothespin acts as a fulcrum so, when you release the spoon face, the mini-marshmallow should go flying.

How to Make a Catapult with Popsicle Sticks

Another popular option for building a DIY catapult is using popsicle/craft sticks as the base. To do this, you’d make a stack of popsicle sticks and rubber band them together on each end. Next, take two more popsicle sticks and rubberband them together only at one end (you can also use spare chopsticks for this part!). Pulling the two popsicle sticks apart to create a gap, place the larger stack of popsicle sticks in the gap. Rubber band the stack of sticks to just the upper popsicle stick of the pair.

Also on the upper popsicle stick, you’ll want to rubberband a spoon — its “head” should be secured facing up and hanging off of the top of the popsicle stick. Place a mini-marshmallow into the spoon, hold the catapult with one hand, and use your other hand to pull the spoon down. Release, and watch that sucker fly!

How to Make a Catapult Out of Wood

Are we saying you should build a massive catapult in your backyard? No. Are we also saying it would be badass? Yup. Still, we aren’t going to attempt to teach you how to do something at this scale. We will, however, point you in the direction of this tutorial by I Like To Make Stuff.

Catapults Created Using Other Stuff

There are plenty of other simple, at-home versions you can try with your kids once you’ve mastered the basics. Need inspiration? You could put together a catapult using repurposed bottle caps and a scotch tape dispenser.

Or one made entirely of pencils and rubber bands…

The idea is to get creative, right? You may wind up with more than a few catapulting fails, but figuring out what works (and what doesn’t) will be half the fun.

It’s Not Too Late for Your Kids to Have a Virtual Visit With Santa

Santa visit
(Instagram/SamsClub)

Taking your kids to visit Santa is one of the mainstay holiday traditions. Sure, they probably get super nervous or cry, or tell Santa they want something crazy expensive you didn’t plan for. And yes, the price of a picture with Santa is roughly $320. But it’s also a memorable experience for kids who get genuinely starstruck, and the pictures with Santa year-over-year are a fun trip down memory lane for parents. In terms of rip-offs (it’s not the real Santa!), this one is recommended.

This year, though, most mall Santas are not adorning their throne in the food courts in malls around the country. But there’s still a way for your little ones to get a chance to talk to Santa, and it’s actually not bad (and maybe preferable?). You won’t be stuck in a long line, you won’t be tempted to buy six things you don’t need, and your kid will feel a little more comfortable. This year, meeting Santa has gone virtual.

There are a bunch of great options, and it’s not too late, for your kids to meet up with Santa. Macy’s, home of the iconic department store Santa, is offering a FREE virtual Santa meeting for kids.

You can even get a free downloadable “selfie” with the big guy, which will be another testament to “this crazy time.”

Nordstrom is also doing the virtual Santa, although their visits cost $20. But all proceeds are benefitting the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which is super cool and a very good operation (said as someone who was a Big Brother for a decade).

 

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Sam’s Club is also offering free Santa experiences for members, and they let you personalize it by giving Santa your child’s name, age, and something you want Santa to say. And you get a free video and photo to mark the occasion! They also have a pretty diverse lineup of Santas, including English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and ASL Santas.

 

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A post shared by Sam’s Club (@samsclub)

And if you want a more in-depth Santa virtual experience, you can go with JingleRing. It’s cool because you get a little more bang for your buck, and also because you can have more than one person on the call, so you can have guests (cousins?) in different areas all get to “visit” Santa at the same time.

Yeah, 2020 has changed almost everything, so we have to get a little more creative with keeping the magic of the season alive.

10-Year-Old Boy Immediately Finds Ancient Sword With New Metal Detector

Metal Detector Sword
(Facebook/Clonoe Gallery)

There was a time when having a metal detector was every kid’s dream. It was a simpler time, before everything became an app, and back when kids liked to play outside. The metal detector was awesome because you never knew when you were about to find ancient pirate treasure buried conveniently in your Midwestern suburb. And the metal detector craze isn’t gone everywhere, as a 10-year-old boy recently got one and the first time he used it, he found an ancient sword on the banks of a river near his home.

Treasure hunting isn’t as much fun as it used to be. These days, it’s more about eccentric millionaires burying a chest and sending people on a futile chase than it is about finding something old and cool. Treasure just doesn’t seem as much fun in real life as it does when Nicolas Cage is involved.

But stories like this renew our faith in the simple joys of a metal detector and an imagination. A 10-year-old boy in Ireland begged for a metal detector for his birthday. His dad delivered, and the two went out on their property with a cousin to see what they could find. After a couple of hits on small metal trinkets, the boy landed on something more substantial. A 300-year-old sword.

“I felt excited… it was a sword and it was just here… I didn’t really expect anything too big,” the kid told BBC Newsline. Antique arms experts believe it’s a basket hilt-type sword used by English officers from 1720 to 1780.

After their discovery, the boy’s dad reached out to the National Museum’s Northern Ireland archaeology curator for more insight on the sword, as he didn’t want a piece of history to just keep decaying in his garage.

It’s unsure what will happen to the artifact, but to be a boy who pulls an ancient sword from the ground sounds like the start of a straight-to-streaming TV series. Even if he doesn’t have magical powers or a future as the chosen one for mankind, he will have a pretty badass story and a great bonding experience with his dad.

You’ll Dig This Theme Park That Lets Kids Safely Operate Construction Equipment

Diggerland Theme Park
(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

If you’re like us, you have many unfulfilled childhood wishes involving heavy machine. Be it demolishing a brick silo with your wrecking ball or simply commandeering an unattended backhoe to take for a joy ride, there’s always been something deeply enticing about operating a big piece of construction equipment.

Well now, kids can live out those dreams at DIGGERLAND, an amusement park where they can drive, ride, and operate heavy machinery. Located in West Berlin, New Jersey, this theme park allows attendees of all ages to indulge their wildest construction fantasies. The park spans 21 acres, and features over 40 attractions.

They’ve got the classic backhoes.

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

STEAMROLLERS. Seriously, when’s the last time you got to ride a STEAMROLLER? Does Six Flags have STEAMROLLERS? Didn’t think so.

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

Dinosaur mascots in hard hats? Say no more.

 

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

The “Dig-A-Round”: half merry-go-round, half excavator. Probably also great for digging moats.

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

Here we have a giant fake dump truck that dumps kids out the back and dangles them 34-feet in the air. Sentences don’t get much cooler than that one.

(Diggerland USA)

Wanna get swung back and forth in the bucket of an excavator? They got that.

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

Or test your claw machine skills by snatching fake ducks out of a little pond.

(Diggerland USA)

Who among us has looked at a hydraulic scissor life, saw keys dangling from its ignition, and didn’t consider giving that bad boy a good stretch?

(Diggerland USA)

And hey, what’s an amusement park without some adjacent water slides. Oh and those already look like ongoing pipe construction? Beautiful.

(Facebook | Diggerland USA)

Adults get to play too!

(Diggerland USA)

Schedule your next bachelor party or team-building retreat at Diggerland and they’ll let you play around with real construction equipment for a few hours. For an extra $395 they’ll even give you a car to smash up!

You can check out more awesome attractions on the Diggerland website right here.

Disney World and Disneyland Are Re-Opening: Here’s What Will Be Different

Disney is Re-opening
(Twitter/DisneyParksNews)

While we all continue to push through an extremely challenging time in world history, there’s at least a little magic coming back into the world. Soon, both the “Happiest Place on Earth” and the “Most Magical Place on Earth” will be open for business, as Disney World and Disneyland plan their re-openings. But…things will definitely be different.

All 12 parks that closed around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic will start to let customers in again, but it won’t be quite the Disney experience you may have been used to. For starters, all employees AND GUESTS must wear facial coverings. Face masks can be a hot topic depending on what part of the country you’re in, but they are recognized as playing a crucial role in limiting the spread of the virus. Still, the thought of spending long hot days in a mask may not be appealing to some park-goers, especially if they have to get their kids to keep them on.

Additional safety measures include the elimination of all parades and of the nightly fireworks (sad face). On the plus side, they are also reducing capacity at the parks to encourage social distancing. This is a good thing because if you go, it means shorter lines and less crushing humanity everywhere you go. There will also be additional hand sanitizing stations throughout the parks and an increase in contactless payments.

Disney World is circling a July 11 return for the Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, with EPCOT coming online July 15. Disneyland is beginning their phased re-opening July 17, the 65th anniversary of the park’s opening.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNN he believes guests will be safe in their return.

“We’ve done everything we can to open up responsibly,” he said. “Taking the guidance of local health officials, state health officials, national health officials, plus our own well-qualified doctors on staff to create an environment to create new operating procedures, to create new policies, to do new training, new standards of hygiene.”

San Diego Comic-Con Is Gonna Happen, at Home, Over Video, for Free

Comic-Con @Home
(Comic-Con)

Over the past few months, all manner of things have been canceled. Bars and beaches and restaurants, movies and concerts and sporting events; anything where people gather in groups have been casualties of the quarantine as the country – and the world – tries to limit the spread of the coronavirus so we can stem the tide and get back to normal life as soon as possible.

We’ve all been forced to miss out on some of the communal events that make life more fun, whether that meant having to watch the latest movies at home instead of at the multiplex with friends, or having to wait for our favorite sports to find a way to come back and salvage their seasons, or even if it meant canceling a long-planned vacation.

Many movie and pop culture fans look forward to traveling to San Diego for the Comic-Con every summer. Comic-Con is a huge convention where movie studios showcase previews of forthcoming blockbusters and panels of beloved casts and creators and fans of all stripes dress up and wait in long lines for first-looks and exclusive interviews.

Unfortunately, Comic-Con won’t be happening this year, at least not in the normal way. But the good news is that the show is still going on, and on the same dates it was initially scheduled – July 22-26. It will just be held over video, just like everything else. And it will be FREE!

They announced it earlier today:

There aren’t a lot of details yet, but they do promise panels and presentations, one way or another, including an online Exhibit Hall complete with exhibitors offering promotions, specials, and limited-edition products, and a Masquerade, gaming, and many other activities in which fans will be able to participate from their own homes. Somehow.

“For the first time in our 50-year history, we are happy to welcome virtually anyone from around the globe. Though stay-at-home conditions makes this a very difficult time, we see this as an opportunity to spread some joy and strengthen our sense of community,” said SDCC spokesperson David Glanzer.

As plans solidify, fans can monitor Toucan, the official Comic-Con and WonderCon blog, as well as SDCC’s website and social channels, and the social feeds of their favorite creators themselves for future updates. You can even get into your favorite cosplay outfit. There are no rules against it!

9 Ways to Quickly Distract Your Bored Kids for 30 Minutes Without a Screen

9 Quick Distractions for Bored Kids
(Getty/Richard Lewisohn)

As much as we love our kids, these days we could really use some peace and quiet in a pinch. Sometimes you need to hop on a last-minute Zoom meeting or submit and overdue TPS report. The easy thing to do would be to plop them in front of the TV and turn on a movie that’s being released digitally. But if we don’t want a bunch of dead-eyed drones running the world, we need to get creative with some screen-less things to do to keep our kids occupied, and fast.

In order to assist all dads everywhere, we thought it might be helpful to provide sort of a series of ideas, we’ll call it a list, of ways to distract your kids without screens.

Here are 9 quick ways to distract your kids during the quarantine without screens.

Make Paper Airplanes

(Fold N Fly)

All you need for this activity is a tiny stack of paper and a little patience. Challenge your aviators to create a fleet that will compete for distance and acrobatics. Check out Fold ‘N Fly – it’s the perfect wingman for this. The website features over 35 different paper airplane designs, data on their aerial abilities, and crystal clear printable instructions on how to make them. Print off a bunch in advance so when you need a moment to yourself can dole out a few sheets and challenge your kids to create and then fly ’em.

Make a Time Capsule

You’re going to need to be involved in this project at some point – but you can still buy yourself some time by challenging the kids to think about what the future might be like. Will there be flying cars yet? I mean, I’ve been waiting for these since I was a boy and am still hoping! Let them explore their imagination and draw, paint, or write down an image of life 10 years from now. Then get them to make a list of their favorite stuff. Maybe they add a few tiny toys or write letters to their futures selves. Then tell them to figure out a good spot in the yard to bury it. All of these activities will distract them while you get a little work done.

Once they’re done gathering the contents you’ll decide on a container for their goodies. We’ve all heard stories about an excavated time capsule that disintegrated or the contents got destroyed by moisture. A paint can works if you’re able to seal it completely and it’s not a bad idea to individually seal other documents inside for added insurance.

Sock Puppet Theater

Cardboard Puppet Theater
(Getty/PeopleImages)

This activity is part crafty and one part performance art. Gather up some old socks, markers, fabric scraps, buttons, and some glue and let the kids create their characters. They’ll be busy for at least 30 minutes. Then give them a box to design with paint and crayons. Boom, 30 more minutes. One done, cut a hole in it and tell them to practice their show. Make sure to record it, everyone can watch it later when it’s finally screentime.

Have Them Make a Movie

Tell them you’re in the mood to watch a sci-fi movie tonight, then give them your phone and tell them to go make it. This doesn’t count as a screen because making movies on your phone is awesome and creative and do you have a RED Digital Cinema camera lying around? Tell them that “real” movies are pretty long and you might get a whole afternoon to yourself.

Have Them Learn a Choreographed Dance

The obvious, and frankly only, pick here is ‘I Want You Back’ by N*Sync. Send your kids off to learn this entire dance so they can perform it at dinner. The benefits of this are two-fold: you’ll get to laugh at your kids dancing to a 90s boy band song and they might find something they actually want to pursue career-wise. And what if they absolutely blow you away? Like what if they’re better than N*Sync? What if you end up managing them as a group? So many possibilities.

Build a Fort

cushion fort
(New York Times)

Oldie but a goodie. Get some couch cushions and tell them to have at it. You can make tin foil hats, create signage that says “No Parents Allowed” but the “s” is all backward and cute. Do the whole nine yards with this one and they’ll be occupied for at least 30 minutes. Or challenge them to build all 6 forts that IKEA provided instructions for.

Treasure Hunt!

Tell your kids to take turns hiding something in the backyard and then create a detailed treasure map so the other one can try to track it down. This is a three-part distraction. First, they’ll spend a little time finding a spot to bury something. Then they’ll have to create the map. And then they’ll have to find the treasure. By the time they’re done you’ve bought yourself at least 30 minutes.

Make a Comic Book

(Picklebums)

Every awesome superhero movie originated as a comic book so it’s time your kids channeled their inner Stan Lee. Have the kids create their own hero, change an ending, or even introduce themselves into a story. Use one of these printable templates from Picklebums to bring a new story to life.

Have Them Paint Each Other

Get some paints, a couple of easels, line the floor with newspaper (lol jk what is this 1947?) I mean trash bags, and encourage them to paint either each other or some wicked cool still-life. Before you leave the room make sure you explain you want them to paint an image of each other on canvas, not paint on each other. You may discover one of them is the next Bob Ross. Or you may discover what you suspected all along: they are kids and their paintings will stink and you just need to lie and tell them they are amazing.

Bonus: Books?

kids books
(Esquire)

We know. Har har. Not happening, right? But there is always a window in which to get your kid to become an avid reader, you just need to find it. It’s that perfect moment when they are bored, but not too bored. And you have to be like, “Oh hey this book is cool, whatevs” and not press it too hard. Maybe they’ll pick it up and maybe they’ll actually become invested. And maybe they start reading a lot and go to Harvard on scholarship and become rich and take care of you in your dying age. All we are saying is get your kids to read.

IKEA Put Together 6 Guides to Fort Building During Quarantine Life

(IKEA)

Building a fort out of your existing furniture is like a rite of passage for every child. Not only is it insanely fun for them, but it’s even more fun for you because it keeps them occupied for a nice long while. IKEA has decided to make fort-building official with ideas on how to build 6 types of forts during the quarantine using nothing but IKEA products. Equipped with their notoriously difficult-to-follow IKEA instructions, you can spend hours building the actual furniture (and claim that you “built that” as we all do), and the kids can take it from there. Once they’re done might we suggest pairing it with homemade IKEA meatballs?

Ikea Castle
(IKEA)

Krokig goes in there. See the arrow? It’s out there but it’s also in there.

Ikea House
(IKEA)

An obese bear by the name of Djungelskog resides in this house. Do not disturb Djungelskog.

Ikea campingtent
(IKEA)

You cannot see her, but Pressa the octopus is hiding in the tent. We don’t know what Pressa is when she is not hanging in a tent. Is she a decoration? What. Is. Pressa.

Ikea cave
(IKEA)

This cave requires 8 books. 2 of them are for keeping the cave in place. 1 is for reading. and the other 5? Well, we don’t speak of those books.

Ikea Fortress
(IKEA)

If you seek solitude, the fortress should do the trick. Make sure you stock up on one million clothespins for these forts.

Ikea Wigwam
(IKEA)

Is this…is this allowed?

IKEA “fans” have already hopped on the fort train (sorry) and are showing off their suspiciously sleek photos. These were 100% not pre-planned by the Russian agency (called Instinct) who created this campaign:

If you’ve got some dollars and time to spare (and who doesn’t???) then this could be your next quarantine project!

5 Virtual Field Trips for Parents (Kids Can Tag Along Too)

Louvre online tour
(Louvre online tour)

We’re all playing our part by staying home as much as possible. But thanks to technology, we can still enjoy life outside our doors without actually having to walk through them. We recently showcased our favorite animal live streams, and the best virtual rides at Disney but now it’s time for some adult-level stuff – a little culture, even a little cuisine. No permission slips required.

Yosemite National Park Virtual Tour

Yosemite Park online tour

Mammoth Hot Springs. Volcanoes. There are some amazing sights and you can let your kids watch a real game of ‘the floor is lava.’

The Great Wall of China Virtual Tour

Great Wall Of China

Allegedly you can see it from space, but you can definitely view it from home. Incredibly, it’s over 3000 miles along. I’m counting it as my exercise for the day. There’s lots to see and learn here – like the toboggan run visitors can ride from the top of the wall to the bottom of the hill!

The Louvre in Paris Virtual Tour

Louvre online tour

I love viewing the majestic Galerie d’Apollon, Mona Lisa, and Egyptian antiques to try to convince myself I’m cultured. There’s a lot of cool things to see here too, including a walk underneath the pyramid, and another around the moat and drawbridge that was used in the 12th century to protect Paris from attack.

The Metropolitan Opera’s Performances

Met Opera

The curtain hasn’t come down on this New York giant: the Metropolitan Opera will be live-streaming a show every night at 7:30 eastern time. Similarly, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra is regularly broadcasting live performances on Youtube.

Massimo Bottura’s Cooking Show

Massimo Bottura’s Cooking Show

There is a seemingly endless list of cooking shows on TV but Massimo Bottura, a Michelin-starred celebrity chef, has promised something different – he’s launched a live interactive cooking show on Instagram’s IGTV. On Kitchen Quarantine, he prepares a full dinner, using ingredients he has in his fridge, and invites questions from viewers. Mine is usually “can you deliver?”.

3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Father’s Day Weekend

Build Something Together

If you’re the type of dad who’s skilled with a skill saw and handy with a hammer, why not impart your lifetime of knowledge onto your kids? As with any activity, safety comes first. Make sure the type of work you’ll be doing is the sort where little hands or clumsy feet won’t cause a serious accident.

(Getty)

If you’re unsure exactly how your kids can pitch in, the easiest and likely safest way to start is to just have them close by while you explain what you’re doing. Remember to start simple.

Why a Phillips head instead of a flat head? Crescent wrench or torque? Things that may seem mundane to you may be new information for young, inquiring minds. Hell, you may even remember a few things you didn’t even know you learned in the first place.

Even if you’re not a handy guy, here’s a perfect chance to learn something yourself while creating new memories with your kids to boot. Again: SAFETY FIRST!

Share Your Collections

Oftentimes we dads tend to keep things close to the chest, even when it comes to our hobbies and passions. Father’s Day is a perfect excuse to flaunt your knowledge on a random topic or bust out your carefully curated coin collection.

(Getty)

Maybe it’s old stamps. Maybe you have baseball cards. Man I hope you didn’t invest too heavily in baseball cards. Either way, whatever makes your dad clock tick, open up and share it with your kids.

Worst-case scenario, they’ll learn a little something about you and have a better estimate of what they’ll inherit after you’re gone.

Sorry son, I really thought PEZ dispensers would be a sound investment.

FORE!

Yep. You’ve waited long enough now. It’s time to start teaching your kids how to golf.

(Getty)

Are there more important lessons they need to learn in life? Sure. But think about this: What other sport can you play well into your twilight years that encourages mid-day beers and disappearing into nature for hours at a time? Maybe teach them that part later.

Yes, it also teaches focus and some other stuff I’m sure, but look at the potential upside if your kid goes pro. You’ve seen their free-throws and they couldn’t kick a soccer ball straight to save their own life depended on it. But golf, damn it. This may be their ticket.

Even if you’re not an insane person like myself, a trip to the driving range or even just chipping around in the backyard may be all it takes to spark their interest into a hobby that can last a lifetime. Check out products like Almost Golf that let you practice at home without taking out a window… again.

Whatever you do, do it with your kids. It’s Father’s Day. Bask in the fact you’ve created another person and enjoy every moment that you can.

3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Weekend

The weekend is almost here which means that while work emails may subside, your other bosses (your kids) will be demanding your undivided attention. Finding things to keep them occupied while maintaining your own sanity can often seem like a losing battle. That’s why we’ve come up with a few simple activities that will keep your kids entertained without breaking the bank.

Here are three ideas to help you as a parent make the most out of family time and maybe even have a little fun yourself.

Take a Hike

(Getty/Hero Images)

Luckily there are often places within 15-20 minutes of where you live that offer miles of trails and natural attractions that you’ve likely passed by many times on your daily commute.

Head over to Google and search for “Hiking trails near me”. Chances are you’ll discover dozens of destinations you’ve likely never considered. While these trails may not have high-end amenities or breathtaking views, they each offer a unique look at local foliage and wildlife.

Also consider searching for wildlife preserves, conservatories, and Audubon societies. These organizations, often supported by individuals in the community as well as national initiatives, showcase nature in the least intrusive way possible by providing access to areas that highlight your areas unique topography and wildlife, all while paying respect to its preservation for generations to come.

Batter Up!

Batting Cages (Getty/Renphoto)

In a nod to America’s favorite pastime, why not load up the entire crew and head to your local batting cages? Beyond letting you relive your former glory days, these family-friendly locales are geared towards every age group with speeds that range from slow to blazing. With all the equipment you’ll need, its an easy spur-of-the-moment adventure that requires nothing but your family and of course your wallet. Watch for specials and group discounts to get the most bang for your buck.

In addition, these establishments often have other activities such as mini-golf or driving ranges on site or near-by. Grab an ice-cream or hot dog at the concession stand and make a day out of it!

Scale New Heights

(Getty/Henn Photography)

These man-made monuments can be found at your local gym, community center and even at specialized “Ninja” training facilities that have now become fixtures of major cities and main streets alike. Beyond rock walls, these “ninja gyms” have dozens of familiar obstacles featured on the internationally known television series, all designed with different age levels and abilities in mind.

Day passes are typically available for most of these facilities and many offer open houses for the community to come in and try out the facility free of charge. Check first to see if any local parks have rock walls to try before committing to anything too large for their first time.

Whatever you decide to do this weekend, remember your kids are getting older every day and so are you. Try to keep up with them while you can, supervise and encourage them when you can’t, and most importantly, treasure every moment because it all goes by quicker than a fastball at the batting cages.

For more suggestions check out last week’s 3 Things to Do With Your Kids.

3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Weekend

Three Things to Do With Your Kids
(Getty/Digital Vision./Hero Images Food Network)

Hooray for another weekend, or two-day-vacation-with-kids as I like to think of it. The weekend is all about disconnecting with the daily drudgery and making some memories with your little ones. It doesn’t matter if you’re building something or just being silly, commit to whatever you’re doing and have a good time.

Get the Pool Out

Kid's in Pool
(Getty/Digital Vision.)

Hooray for it finally being sunny enough to spend evenings outdoors (in some areas of N. America at least). Get a few cold beverages in the cooler and give the kids enough toys to keep them busy for a while. Lather on the sunscreen, get the hats and shades on and spend your weekend outside. You can pick up an inexpensive inflatable pool for as low as $30 at Amazon. Sure it might only last the season, but that saves on storing it away through the winter, so who cares!

A few ideas that’ll keep the kids in the pool and away from their screens, how about:

  • Ping Pong Race – Empty a bag of ping pong balls in the water and get the kids to act like Hungry Hungry Hippos and race to gather the most
  • Atomic Whirlpool – All the kids run in the same direction around the inside edge of the pool to get the water spinning. Then let them get swept around or try to swim against it.
  • Sponge Toss – Unload a few big car-washing sponges and let them throw them around. They’ll quickly get water-logged and fun to splash around.

Backyard Camping and Outdoor Movie

Backyard Camping
(Getty/Hero Images)

You don’t have to travel far to have the same fun as going on a family camping trip, and they’ll have the benefit of on-site bathrooms, snacks, and the comfort of their own beds if they get chilly at night.

Set up a tent and let them bring all their blankets, pillows, cuddly toys, flashlights, and some food to get them into the evening at least. Make it really memorable by setting up a projector and drape a white sheet over a wall to create an outdoor movie theatre. Bring popcorn and all the goodies they need. Even if they don’t stay out the whole night, they’ll surely have a great time.

Make Spider Burgers

(Food Network.ca)

Ok, well they’re not technically spider burgers. They look more like octopus burgers. Either way, your kids will love them, probably! They’re super-easy to make too, which is always a winner in my book. Here’s the recipe, thanks to FoodNetwork.

Ingredients:

  • Hot dog wieners
  • vegetable oil
  • Small hamburger buns as wieners
  • Condiments for burgers

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or foil.

2. To cut wieners so they will cook into “spiders”, begin about an inch down from one end of each wiener, use a small sharp knife to cut along the length of the wiener into halves, then make two lengthwise cuts into each half, making 6 “legs” total. Try to make each “leg” the same thickness. The wieners should be intact at one end and have with 6 “legs” dangling from it.

3. Put sliced wieners in a bowl. Add drizzle vegetable oil (1 tsp for every 4 wieners) and toss to coat weiners.

4. Splay wieners onto lined baking sheets by spreading “legs” out like spokes from the intact end of the wiener. You can fit 4 to 5 wieners onto each baking sheet. Bake on middle racks of the oven for 6 minutes, or until “legs” curl up and wieners look lightly roasted.

5. Tuck wieners into hamburger buns. Set out with self-serve hamburger condiments.

For more suggestions check out last week’s 3 Things to Do With Your Kids.

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3 Things to Do With Your Kids This Weekend

3 Things to do With Your Kids
(Getty/India Picture/harpazo_hope/jennifer judd-mcgee)

Hooray for another weekend, or two-day-vacation-with-kids as I like to think of it. The weekend is all about disconnecting with the daily drudgery and making some memories with your little ones. It doesn’t matter if you’re building something or just being silly, commit to whatever you’re doing and have a good time.

Say “Yes!” to Everything

Say "Yes" to everything!
(Getty/India Picture)

You heard me, you have to agree to everything asked of you. Take it in turns to plan out the day or play it by ear and see where the day takes you.

There are a few rules:

  1. Nothing mean, permanent, dangerous, or painful
  2. You have to say ‘yes!’
  3. That’s it.

Stuck for questions? How about:

  • Can I do your hair?
  • Can we go to the pool?
  • Can we have breakfast for dinner?
  • Can you say ‘without my pants’ after every sentence?

Playground Olympics

Playground Olympics
(Getty/harpazo_hope)

Round up the gang, hit your local playground and let the games begin! Everyone can help devise a few rounds of fun competition on the equipment.

Possible events:

  • Timed hang from monkey bars
  • Synchronized swinging on the swings
  • Fastest to go climb up and then slide back down on all slides
  • Fastest to dig a 2-foot hole in the sandbox

Get creative and make sure to bring your stopwatch coach, timing is of the essence!

Reward your Olympians with some frozen treats from a corner store after.

Paint Some Rocks

While it sounds a little boring at first, let the kids’ imaginations go wild. They can paint them like bugs, faces, a rainbow of color, or spell out sentences with a word on each one.

Once they’re painted and dried, coat them in weather-proof varnish and let re-dry. Now go around the neighborhood and carefully place them in driveways, on doorsteps, and next to roadside mailboxes. Eventually, they’ll get discovered but nobody will know how they got there and you’ll make people smile!

Paint Some Rocks
(Getty/jennifer judd-mcgee)

For more suggestions check out last week’s 3 Things to Do With Your Kids.