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5 Summer Activities to Stay Cool

19 Jun 2014 – 06:45 PM EDT

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Once the school year ends, life calms down for many families – and also heats up! Summer activities that keep the whole family cool are important during the hottest months of the year. Here are some ways to keep your kids busy without melting.

See a movie. Sometimes it’s so hot vegging out in the cool air conditioning is the only option. Many theatres offer free children’s films in the summer. Tip: Sneak in a Saturday afternoon date. Pay an older sibling, cousin or neighbor kid a few bucks to sit with the littles in the kiddie movie while you and your husband see an adult flick.

Go bowling. This is a great way for kids to burn some energy without getting a sunburn. The “Kids Bowl Free” program offers two free games a day. Season passes for parents are available for just $24.95. Shoe rental isn’t included, so check thrift stores and garage sales for cheap bowling shoes to save on rental fees.

Tour your city’s pools and splash pads. Make it your family’s mission to try a new public pool or splash pad each day (or every weekend, if daily visits don’t fit into your schedule). Log what you like and don’t like about each location. Tally the results at the end of the summer and send a letter of congratulations to the winner.

Make your own cool packs. Place 1 and ½ cups of water and ½ a cup of rubbing alcohol in a strong sealable zipper bag. Freeze it. The alcohol keeps the water from freezing completely, so you have a moldable ice pack to put on foreheads or the back of necks to cool down overheated bodies. Make several packs and throw them in a cooler to take with you to the park. Let children personalize their ice packs by drawing on the bags with Sharpies – closely supervised, of course – before adding the water and alcohol. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bag so everyone can have their own color ice pack.

Turn your yard into a water park. Remember playing in the hose and sprinklers for hours as a kid? Times haven’t changed that much. Your crew will love it, too. Pick up a few cheap water toys at a big box store (slip ‘n slide, anyone?) and invite the neighborhood kids over to play. Put out some buckets and sponges. Loosen up a little and allow children to dump the water on each other and play toss with the wet sponges.

These activities will make your kids think you’re super cool while you keep them (and yourself) cool! What are your favorite summer activities?