ten things to do before summer melts into fall

Labor day has passed and Summer really is winding down. I noticed this morning that all the kindergarten girls who were wearing sundresses two weeks ago have all switched to jeans and hoodies. I'm not ready to give up yet, though! We've got a least a few weekends of gorgeous weather left before it really cools down and sends us inside and I'm planning to make the most of it. Are you in? (image via ehow.com)

  1. Camp out in the backyard. It's cool at night, but our sleeping bags keep us toasty. Added bonus: the days are getting shorter so you won't be woken up at 5 am with the sunrise! It'll be a great opportunity to have smores one more time, even if we're toasting marshmallows over candle-flame.
  2. Make little nature boats and sail them in the creek. How to: Collect sticks and twigs, break into 3-5" lengths (depending on the size of your desired boat). Use long pieces of grass to tie them into bundles, add a leaf for a 'sail,' and send down the stream. We used to make paper boats, but it felt too much like littering :/
  3. Play a late-night game of Predator Stalks Prey. How to: Once it's pretty dark, each player gets a shaker (a jar half-filled with popcorn works). One player is designated Predator and is out to find the Prey. Each time Predator shakes his/her shaker Prey must respond with a shake of their own. Once Predator tags a Prey, Prey becomes Predator and the game starts again!
  4. Build a set of tin-can stilts. How-to: Collect two large cans of the same size, wash and remove labels and any sharp parts. Use a nail to poke two holes near the bottom of the can, directly across from each other. Cut a length of string twice as long as your (child's) legs, thread it through the holes, and tie off into a loop. Stand on the unopened end of the can and hold the string loops in your hands, then try to walk!
  5. Pick quarts and quarts of raspberries, eat quarts more, and make jars and jars of freezer jam. Find u-pick farms near you at pickyourown.org and localharvest.org.
  6. Make a kite. My favorite super-easy, kid-friendly pattern is at Family Fun. You probably have all the supplies, it requires almost no wind, and there are no wooden spars to break.
  7. Make frozen bananas and dip them in chocolate and chopped peanuts.
  8. I've got the tire, the rope, and the branch. We have to get that tire swing in before the snow flies!
  9. Dry the first apples of fall (almost!) in the sun. How to: Peel and core an apple, then slice crosswise into thin, thin rings. Lay an old sheet on a picnic table or other flat area in the direct sun. Turn once the tops are dry to allow the other side to dry. If you slice them thinly enough they can dry in a day. Thicker rings have to be taken in at night and put out the next day.
  10. Invite friends over for a last outdoor barbecue. Let the kids run through the sprinklers until they're wet and silly, then feed them ice cream cake.
So what is your family doing to enjoy the end of summer?
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