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By Jodie Lynn

Summer is a wonderful time to take advantage of free stuff to do with your kids, especially when you hear those two negative but all too common words: I'm bored!

- Introduce one new hobby each week. Most everyone develops at least a couple of favorite hobbies early in life. Get creative. Introduce your child to painting, cooking, playing an instrument, dancing or a million other things. While they won't do much with the endeavor, it will expose them to something new each week and strike a chord with something that they might want to continue with during the school year.

- Visit a nursing home. Whether or not you have a family member in a nursing home, those folks love to meet new people, especially if they are kids between the ages of 5 to 18. Make cookies or bread and take treats on your first trip. They also love to get magazines and could care less if they are old -- they are new to them.

- Visit animal shelters. Show your kids what it's like to give back to the community animal shelter by allowing them to donate some of their money to one. Sometimes, if you will call ahead of time, they will tell you what kind of food and/or toys that they need. Explain to child beforehand that you are going to the shelter to say hello and have no plans to adopt a pet. This usually works well with kids ages 8 to 13.

- Backyard Magic. If you are unable to go camping, do it in your own back yard. Put up the old tent and watch the kids become excited. In fact, if it's too hot to sleep outside, pitch it in the living room or family room. It's still something new and exciting. Play music or tell spooky stories.
Hint: spooky stories can always end on a happy note.

- Exercise Fun. Let the kids make up their own exercise routines, choose their own music and lead the program. They will exercise longer if they can create their own style and act silly too.

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- Don't forget your local science center. It may not be free, but many have discount or coupon days. Take advantage by watching the paper for those days and/or coupons. Science Centers can be a child's best friend in exciting learning adventures, especially if they have mini shows. A mini show is usually a series of new topics that the science center schedules for the summer months. Each one may only be available for around two weeks and then a new one is scheduled. These are usually in addition to the main theme and keep families busy and kids happy.

- Take a nature walk. Sounds too simple, right? There are tons of butterflies, bugs, trees, and other amazing things to see if you really look. Bring along a throw away camera and let the kids take turns shooting whatever it is that they like best. It's an educational "jungle" out there, with all sorts of incredible creatures and plant life worth exploring.

- Try on cooking. Summer is the best time to cook with your kids. Let them try new recipes or add zing to some old favorites. Don't worry about perfect outcomes or the mess that they are sure to make. Making healthy snacks is usually a good place to begin -- let them choose the ingredients. It's summer!

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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