Cool Off! Beat-the-Heat Backyard Treats and Activities

Sizzling hot summer days call for clever ideas that can keep you cool. Make a splash this season with a bucketful of backyard games, frozen treats, and other activities to help beat the awesome heat.

Everything in this slideshow

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Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski, Idea by Sarah Skaggs

Freeze Pop Sabers

Feel the force of ice-cold refreshment -- and keep hands unfrozen -- with these felt cozies. For each, cut a 3- by 4-inch rectangle from gray felt. Fold it over a freeze pop and use fabric glue to seal the side and bottom edges. Clamp the fabric closed with binder clips or clothespins, if needed. Slip the felt off the pop. Glue on stripes and dots of black and colored felt. When your pop is frozen and the glue is dry, you're ready to battle the heat!

Originally published in the June/July 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Bottle Blaster

Bottle Blaster

With just a couple of basic parts from the hardware store, you can transform a 2-liter bottle into a fountain that produces a super-misty spray.

Use a pushpin to poke eight holes in one side of a 2-liter plastic bottle. Widen each hole with a bamboo skewer. You'll need a 3/4-inch female by 3/4 -inch female swivel hose adapter, which threads onto the bottle and onto the hose, a part found in the plumbing section of a hardware store. While you're there, pick up some rubber hose washers and insert one in the bottle side of the adapter to minimize leaks. Carefully screw the adapter onto the bottle and tighten (the threads may not match perfectly). Attach the hose and turn on the water. Safety note: Periodically check all connections for tightness so that the bottle doesn't come loose from the hose and hurt someone.

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Kinzie & Rieh

The Cups Runneth Over!

Players are sure to get soaked with this spray bottle challenge that's brimming with fun. Divide the group into teams of two. Give one player on each team a water squirter filled with water and the other player a plastic cup and Ping-Pong ball, then have them stand six feet apart. At "Go," the player with the bottle tries to squirt enough water into her teammate's cup to float out the ball. Set up a water bucket nearby for refills during play.

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Snow Cone Cupcakes

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Kinzie & Rieh

Freezy Tees Contest

The chill factor in this fast-paced race makes it much cooler than your average dress-up game. Before the contest, prepare a T-shirt for each participant by soaking it with water, wringing it out, and folding it. Placing waxed paper between each one, stack the folded shirts on a baking sheet and freeze them. When they're stiff, hand them out to the players. The first to get into his frozen tee wins.

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Kinzie & Rieh

Ice Lei

The baubles on this necklace do double duty as a personal cool-down device. To make one, tie a knot at the end of a 3-foot length of lanyard. Decide how many ice cube baubles you'd like, then thread the same number of pony beads or pieces of a straw onto the lanyard, adding a few extra for decoration. Lay the lanyard on top of an ice tray and place a bead or straw piece into each well. Tape the lanyard to the rim of the tray, fill the wells with water, and freeze. When the cubes are frozen, pop them out and tie on the necklace.

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Kinzie & Rieh

Ready Steady Jump Rope Game

Our simple spin on jumping rope turns it into a get-wet game. Provide each player with a full cup of water. One at a time, each player must jump rope for ten turns while holding his cup. The player with the most water left wins.

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Mark Mantegna

Frozen Yogurt Coins

Here's how to turn a kid-friendly snack into a frozen treat in a flash. Spoon your child's favorite yogurt into a ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Pipe quarter-size dots of the yogurt onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Add fresh whole or sliced berries, if you like. Freeze the coins until firm, about 30 minutes. Eat them immediately after serving (they melt quickly).

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Mark Mantegna

Coco-Lime Slushy

This yummy frozen drink offers a taste of the tropics. In a blender, combine 5 1/2 cups ice, 2/3 cup cream of coconut (found in the ethnic food aisle; we used Coco Lopez), 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 1/4 cup water. Blend until smooth. Makes five 1-cup servings.

Originally published in the August 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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The Coolest Thing Since Sliced Bread

Ice cream on toast? You bet. Crispy-warm and frosty-sweet all at once, these real-deal ice cream sandwiches will rock your family's summer.

To make a batch, first let the ice cream soften for 5 minutes. Toast the bread (we like the thin-sliced kind here) and trim off the crusts, then top with ice cream, smoothing it with the back of a spoon. Add fixings. (To minimize drips, assemble each on waxed paper, wrap it up, slice in half, and serve.) Try one of these combos shown or devise a dagwood of your own.

  1. Vanilla ice cream with sliced kiwis and strawberries on honey wheat bread.
  2. Cherry-chocolate chip ice cream and whipped cream on sliced chocolate loaf cake.
  3. Chocolate chip ice cream with sliced strawberries on white bread.
  4. Pistachio ice cream and raspberries on honey wheat bread.
  5. Vanilla ice cream and strawberry jam on cinnamon raisin bread.
  6. Strawberry ice cream, strawberries, and peanut butter on white bread.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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