Category Archives: Backyard Campout

Gorgeous Green Glamping Activities to Play With Guests

Glamping is camping for glamorous types. It’s one of those activities to play with guests that lets you all enjoy the great outdoors without shivering in a leaky tent. Get ready to glamp out.

Choose your venue: There are plenty of upscale campsites all over the United States and around the world with a wide range of prices. Some have basic pre-pitched tents. Other have facilities so luxurious they’re more like rooms with a view. While rugged camping purists may scoff, most places make an effort to be eco friendly with solar panels and the like. Of course, you can also create a DIY experience in your own backyard.

Decide what to bring: Some venues will provide everything from the champagne flutes to the cashmere throws. Others may suggest that you bring your own towels and bed sheets. Whether you travel far or stay at home, a few amenities will enhance the experience. Loll around on deck chairs or fake fur rugs. Decorate with lanterns and tea lights. Hand out boot slippers to get comfortable in. Dine elegantly with silverware, cake stands and tea sets. Party with a cocktail shaker and martini glasses.

Coordinate the glamping activities: The priciest destinations may include butler service, but don’t expect Wi-Fi. Depending on your guests, you may lean towards sophisticated or outdoorsy fun. Throw a tea party or play bridge. Take a nature walk or watch birds. Enjoy traditional camping fun like roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Make up your own lyrics to make camp songs sound classier. How about a round of Row, Row, Row Your Yacht or Home on the Range Rover? Above all, take advantage of being offline and have a good old conversation face to face. And enjoy some alone time reading a book or catching up with far away friends with some stationery note writing.

Glamping is like Downton Abbey style meets National Geographic Channel adventure. Invite your friends over to share the fun.

Activities and Games To Play with Your Grandchildren

Grandparents love participating in their grandchildren’s life and are involved in a special relationship with their grandchildren. Every grandparent loves to share family history, tell stories and pass on family traditions. With this, as well as many other activities, a deep bond forms between you and your grandchild. It doesn’t matter what the distance is between you and your grandchildren, their age or how much time you spend together because every family is different. You can build a great relationship with them simply by finding meaningful activities for your grandchildren and you to do together. These are some great activities to play with your grandchild.

Scrap booking

Making a scrapbook together will let you both treasure the memories. Buy an inexpensive scrapbook—maybe from the dollar store—and design each page with pictures of things you do or places you go together. For example, you might decide to devote a page to photographs of an outing to the zoo or possibly a special restaurant you went to. Use glitter, stickers or whatever your grandchild would like to decorate the page and then insert it into the scrapbook. This scrapbook could start when they’re at a young age and grow with them right into adulthood—just continue taking pictures of events or times you spend together and put the pages into the scrapbook.

Family Tree

No doubt you have a great deal of knowledge about your family’s history, most grandparents do. So why not put together a family tree using some brown and green construction paper? On the brown construction paper, draw and cut out a tree with branches and cut out the leaves using the green construction paper. If you’re not very artistic, you can always find a family tree on the internet that can be downloaded—many for free—and then printed; one good site to go to is Family Tree Templates. Write the names and dates of births and deaths of family members on each leaf and glue it onto its respective branch. For example, the child’s name and birth date should go on the tree trunk itself and their father and mother on the first tree branches and so on. Your family tree can be as big or as small as you want it to be, depending on how much information you have. While you’re putting it together share some stories of your childhood or your family memories with your grandchild. What child doesn’t love to hear stories? Be sure to talk to the child’s other grandparents and get information from them so you can fill in both sides of the family tree.

Photo Frame

Go to your nearby hobby store and obtain some colorful foam. Cut a shape, like an oval, out of the foam and then cut out the middle section. Voila—a frame! But you’ll want to cut out two of these frames and decorate them so that each of you can have a picture to look at when you’re not together. Now, just pick out a beloved photo of you and your grandchild and put it in the frame. You can either set the frame on a bookcase or desk or perhaps glue a magnet onto the back of the photo frame and stick it onto your refrigerator.

Mind Games

These games are always fun, no matter what generation plays them. Most likely you have happy memories of playing these games with your own kids. As kids grow and learn, they want to play games that let them show what it is that they’ve learned like numbers, colors, rhyming or the alphabet. Playing hide and seek, doing a jigsaw puzzle or going on a treasure hunt are all great games. Let’s not forget the “feely bag” game! Pick out a secret object in your home, place it in a paper bag and ask your grandchildren to guess what’s inside the bag; they have to use their four other senses to guess: taste, hearing, smell and touch. “I Spy” is another good game and you and your grandchildren will have hours of fun playing it.

Cooking

Teaching a child how to cook is a time-honored tradition of Grandmothers and builds a close relationship with the child. Older children can learn how to use the convenient mixes that are available today or prepare food from scratch. Let your grandchildren help with mixing, measuring and adding the secret ingredients that make your dishes so delicious. The younger children can help decorate cookies and cupcakes, mix ingredients in bowls and be your official taste tester—which, by the way, is the best part! Each of you can take turns and pick different recipes from the internet or a magazine to try; they can be a way to spruce up an old recipe or a brand new recipe all together. Use these recipe cards as a reminder of which cookies you made together! Each recipe you make together can be put in a recipe book that you make with the kids. It’ll be something they can keep with them as a great memory as well as being useful later on in their life.

Arts and Crafts

Kids love to make things and you can always set aside those little pieces of material from whatever you’ve made instead of throwing them away—but then, who throws stuff like that away when it could come in handy someday? Create a list of craft ideas that you and your grandchildren can do together and save some recycled items from around your home such as egg cartons, empty cardboard toilet paper or paper towel rolls and empty cereal boxes. On “arts and crafts” day, set out craft materials and watch them use their imaginations and help them make something interesting. Making robots from those toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes is always fun. Or you can help them make caterpillars out of empty egg cartons and glue on wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners. For the older kids, get out some old socks and buttons and sew some dolls or puppets; for hair you can use lint from your dryer or cotton balls. Kids of any age love to learn. Why not teach them how to make something from when you were a kid? Perhaps you used to decorate your own treasure box or braid your own jump ropes. If you don’t happen to have any craft items around the house, you could always buy craft kits to complete together. You could even teach them something that will benefit them later on in their lives like how to sew on buttons or hem pants.

Card Games

Card games are another thing that’s loved by any generation. Play the “Memory” game by putting all 52 cards face down and then each of you turn over two cards at a time to try to get a match. If there’s a match, the cards are removed; if the cards don’t match, the cards are turned back over and the next person takes their turn. The person with the most matched cards wins the game. This game helps not only your grandkids to have sharp memories, but you too! “Go Fish” and “Old Maid” are two other popular card games to play. “Go Fish” helps kids learn their numbers and counting while “Old Maid” teaches them about pairing cards that look alike.

Go On an Outing

A day out and about is always a treat for the grandkids but also for Grandpa and Grandma! Let the kids run off some of that energy at a playground or park and make a day of it by packing a picnic lunch. Every once in a while, take the grandkids to a restaurant—one that fits the age of the child, of course. For the older children, drinks and appetizers would be fun at a fine dining restaurant. No one is ever too young or too old for the zoo or science center and your older grandchildren might enjoy a historic museum. Visiting an antique store is a great learning experience as you can show them things you had as a child, items you used or things your grandparents used. Miniature golf is always a blast and full of laughs. Talk to your grandchildren to see what they’d be interested in doing and, together, you can come up with some wonderful ideas!

Tea Parties for Granddaughters

Purchase cups, saucers, plates, teapots and other sets at Target or a dollar store. As your granddaughter grows, you can expand on this by adding an easy bake oven. Instruct her on setting the correct oven temperature, measuring the correct ingredients for the recipe and how to time things so it all comes out right. This is also a great time to develop good etiquette and manners which will, hopefully, stay with her all her life. Tea parties are always a hit with young girls.

Activities for Long Distance

For those grandparents who are many miles away from their grandchildren, there are several long distance things you can do together. Set up a certain day each week to talk on the phone. If you’re a grandparent that keeps up with technology and you have a computer, you could talk via a webcam or through e-mail or send pictures to each other. Write riddles, jokes, or share a funny story of something that happened to you. If you go on a trip, send your grandchildren little keepsakes via postal mail—kids always love receiving mail, especially from Grandma and Grandpa! Amy Adele has a great selection of stationery for all ages. Having their own stationery would be a great motivation for your grandchild to write to you!

Building a Fort

Gather a few chairs and place them in the middle of the living room and put a blanket over them to make your “fort”. For an even bigger adventure, set up a real tent and camp out in the backyard. Of course, a campout wouldn’t be perfect without hot dogs, marshmallows and a thermos full of lemonade! If your grandchild is young, you’ll want to roast hot dogs and marshmallows using you grill; but if they’re older, why not teach them the proper way to start a campfire? Naturally, you can’t roast marshmallows without having graham crackers and chocolate to make S’mores—why, that would be a sacrilege! While you’re camping in your yard, take the opportunity to teach them about astronomy and use binoculars or, if you have one, a telescope to gaze at the planets and stars.

Reading

Reading is very important and, if you start reading to them early, kids can learn to love reading; so be sure to keep a good supply of books on hand at your home. For your young grandchildren, read to them stories of “Pokey Little Puppy”, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “Thomas the Tank” or other age appropriate books. For the older set, let them take turns reading to you and you could even read a chapter or two. Your grandkids would also like activity books or magazines that give them a chance to do puzzles and write as well as read. Think about finding a book series—like “Harry Potter”—that your grandkids would want to read every time they are spending the day or weekend with you.

There are lots of other games and activities that you can do with your grandkids. Talk to them and inquire as to what they’d like to do. They might want to play dress-up, play marbles, play a smaller version of baseball and make up and act out scenes with their toys. They might also want to play board games like “Trouble”, “Candy Land”, “Guess Who”, “Chutes and Ladders” or “Monopoly Jr.”. If you have a vegetable or flower garden, you could teach them how to take care of it and weed it; but keep an eye on them and always make sure that they know the difference between weeds and flowers or veggies before letting them help you—wouldn’t want them pulling up a carrot before it’s ready to be pulled! No matter what you both decide to do, you and your grandchildren will love the time that’s spent together and you’ll develop a strong bond that will last for many years to come.

Peas in a pod

How to Roast Marshmallows the Safe and Delicious Way

With fall and winter quickly approaching, it is the perfect time to teach your kids how to roast marshmallows. While many people consider summer to be the best time to roast marshmallows, depending on where you live it could be too hot to roast marshmallows during the summer. The chilly months that are quickly coming is the best time to roast marshmallows since being around a fire will keep you warm, and because roasting marshmallows is a fun activity for all ages that can help to relieve boredom when the weather turns bad. However, if you have never roasted marshmallows with your kids, or if you have never roasted marshmallows yourself, you may be wondering how to roast marshmallows. Here are the basics of what you need to know to get started roasting marshmallows.

Buying the Marshmallows

While purchasing marshmallows may seem like the simple part of the process, it is key that you purchase the right ones. While name brand marshmallows may be more expensive than the store brand, you will be glad you spent the extra money. Store brand marshmallows do not taste as good as their name brand counterparts, and they are more likely to melt than they are to roast when you put them over the fire.

Building Your Fire

Preparing the proper fire is an important step to take before you start roasting marshmallows. You do not want to roast marshmallows on a fire that has just started, as the flames will be too big and erratic, which will be more likely to torch your marshmallows than roast them. Build your fire to a decent size, and keep it going for 30 minutes to an hour before you try roasting marshmallows on it so that you will have an evenly hot fire to cook them on. Also, it is important to note that you do not have to have a real fire or even an outdoor space to roast marshmallows. You can just as easily roast marshmallows on a gas fireplace or stove if you do not have the ability in your home to make a wooden fire. Simply turn the gas on to a medium heat level and you will be good to start roasting marshmallows without having to wait.

Roasting The Marshmallows

While roasting marshmallows can be a fun activity for the whole family, it is important to remember to follow certain safety guides when letting your children roast their own marshmallows. Firstly, it is best if you purchase long or extendable roasting sticks that have a heat resistant handle. Traditionally people have roasted marshmallows on metal coat hangers; however, this is not very safe for children. This is because metal coat hangers are not very long, thus children may burn their hands when they get that close to the fire.

Now you are ready to start roasting marshmallows. Simply put a marshmallow on each child’s roasting stick and let them roast it. There is no real method to roasting marshmallows. It is best to simply let them try roasting their marshmallow. They will eventually discover how they like them roasted, whether that be lightly golden or completely burnt. Just make sure to purchase enough marshmallows in case they want to try making them several different ways.

Roasting marshmallows is a great family activity that is perfectly safe as long as it is done under adult supervision. You will soon find that roasting marshmallows, whether indoors or outdoors, will soon because your favorite cold weather activity.

Roasting Marshmallows

How to Spend Quality Time with Your Children – Retro Fun in a Techie World

How to Spend Quality Time With Your Children

So, you’ve decided to turn off the tablets and smart phones, unplug the television, hide the video controllers, and take a holiday from tech.  Yeah, we know it’s hard.  But you are a parent, and you know that great families require real time and real interaction.

But what if your kids aren’t quite so psyched to hang out, low-tech, with the family?  It’s hard in this age of social networking and instant technical gratification to encourage children to just relax, play, and interact with the family.

Here are a few suggestions on how to spend quality time with your children when they’d rather be surfing, texting, or watching videos.

Have an Impromptu Masquerade Party.

Costume play, or cosplay, is a hugely popular pastime.  You don’t need to know how to sew to cosplay–all you need is imagination.  You can take the kids to a thrift store and let them design their own characters–either based on their favorite book or movie, or a character of their own creation.  If you want, you can set a theme, like “Create Your Own Superhero” or “Backyard Aliens.”

Of course, it works much better if you get into the action, yourself.   “Danger Dad” or “Meteor Mom” will have a whole lot of fun when they jump into the cosplay with everyone else.  Everyone can help design costumers, especially if there are younger players involved.

When the costumes are finished, get out the camera and take some action photos with your characters!  You may even want to create a scrapbook of your adventures for future memories.

Family Game Night…with a Twist

Board games and cards are all fun and good, but why night take game night one step further?  Why not let your kids design their own games for the whole family to play?  Whether it’s a home-made board game, family trivia, or an indoor obstacle course, these games can a hilarious way of bringing everyone together.

If sports are your family’s thing, why not set up a volleyball or badminton net in the back yard?  Or build your own back yard cornhole game as a family project?

Storytelling: Really Retro Videos

You don’t need a campfire to tell really great stories.  Every family has a treasure trove of stories, and children love hearing about when they were very little.  Stories of the Day I Was Born (or the Day I Was Adopted, in some cases) can become treasured family memories if told often enough with love and humor.

Let the children take turns telling stories too.  They can be true-life stories they remember of family vacations, overcoming obstacles, or hard-earned successes.  Or they can be complete fiction, woven from the child’s fertile imagination.   What better way could there be to really get to know your children?

In the end, there are a lot of ways you can turn off the world and really connect with your children.  But it isn’t easy, and it may take a bit of coaxing to get the kids on board. Quality time comes in all shapes and sizes depending on your family, ask your kids what interests them, let them help you design your best family day ever.

You never know what those little dickens will come up with!

Pirates

Outdoor Fun: Keep Your Family Happy and Healthy This Summer

Children ages 8 to 18 spend on average 7.5 hours a day engaged in entertainment media, watching TV and playing video games, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Stop the unhealthy madness! Summer is the perfect time to help kids learn healthy habits and embrace an active lifestyle with these fun ideas:

#1: Organize a neighborhood scavenger hunt

Who can forget how much fun playing capture the flag was as a child? A neighborhood scavenger hunt is just as thrilling— especially if you let your kids stay up past their bedtime! Partner with your neighbors to create a fun scavenger hunt that takes your kids on a whirlwind adventure around the neighborhood. Create a treasure map and write clues on the reverse side of the map. As children discover new clues, they’ll slowly piece together the map that leads them to their treasure.

Photo by Ryan Ruppe via Flickr

#2: Make your own natural summer refreshments

Sugar-filled juices and sodas are a major trigger for childhood obesity and cavities. This summer, treat your kids to the deliciousness of freshly squeezed juice. Squeeze your own watermelon, lemonade or orange juice for a refreshing summer drink free from artificial sugars and additives. Sip on these natural beverages through mason jars with your kids while playing Kool Smiles dental bingo or doing a wordfind on the backyard patio. 

Photo by Flickr user twodolla

#3: Camp out in the backyard

Not up for a full-blown camping excursion? No problem. Stage your own mini camping trip in the backyard. Pitch a tent, roll out the sleeping bags, barbeque with the family, stay up late playing card games, and tell ghost stories with a flashlight. Backyard camping is just as fun as a real camping trip— and everyone will appreciate the easy access to hot showers and running water.

Photo by Flickr user ex-magician

#4: Watch the sunrise

Wake the kids early for a pre-dawn hike to an elevated spot in your neighborhood or local park. Watch the sunrise and salute the day with a yoga pose. Basic yoga postures, including the sun salutation, are easy for kids to learn and practice. Bring along healthy snacks like fresh fruit, granola and Greek yogurt for a post-yoga picnic breakfast.

Photo by Flickr user Crystl

#5: Host an inaugural family Olympics

The next summer Olympics may be three years away, but that’s no reason for not hosting your own family Olympic games. To beat the summer heat, plan fun and silly aquatic activities, such as garden hose limbo or a water balloon fight. Give out medals for “lowest limbo” or “last water balloon standing.”

Photo by Vincent Angler via Flickr

#6: Plant a family garden

You don’t need a huge backyard to grow a garden. Even a small space on a fire escape or apartment balcony can be transformed into a mini-vegetable garden. Plant summer squash, eggplants and peppers for delicious vegetable dishes all summer-long. If you want to plant tomatoes, be sure to choose a location that will receive at least six to eight hours of full sunlight. Use stakes or trellises to support the tomato vines.

Photo by The Greenery Nursery via Flickr

#7: Explore your neighborhood on two wheels

Leave the car at home for a day and bike to local shops, parks and playgrounds. If it’s too far to bike to the park or store, take the kids for a bike tour of your neighborhood. Remember, both children and adults should always wear a helmet.

Photo by Jamie Beverly via Flickr

Summer Parties — Backyard Campout

Join the National Wildlife Federation for the Great American Backyard Campout on June 25. Whether you camp right in your backyard or out in the wild, you’ll be giving your children memories to last a lifetime. What a great idea to get everyone outdoors!

National Wildlife Federation Great American Backyard Campout on June 25, 2011

Amy’s Campout Party Invitations:

And if you’re looking for something special to serve, here’s a fun summer dessert we’re just dying to try:

Watermelon Pie

Click here for the recipe.