Last year my 8-year-old had a mermaid-themed party. For favors, Nicolette wanted to make a mermaid tail for each guest. I wanted the tails to be both practical and washable, so I came up with the idea of making them from beach towels. I added Velcro tabs to one end of the towel so that it could be easily secured around the waist. To create the flukes, I wrapped two ponytail holders around the bottom. The mermaid tails can be easily disassembled to use as towels or to be washed. The girls had a blast with them!
-- Kim Fuglestad Wrightstown, PA
Before a trip to the beach, my kids and I hot-glued double layers of foam letters, numbers, and shapes to the bottom of their flip-flops so that they'd leave fun prints when they walked in the sand. Just remember that the prints will be a mirror image, so arrange the letters backward.
--Michelle Greene Godley, TX
My three boys love to play ice hockey, but living in California makes a backyard rink impossible. So this summer we created a water rink. We purchased a 9- by 12-foot tarp and spray-painted it to look like a hockey rink. Then we set up our sprinkler to wet it. Using our miniature hockey set, the boys have enjoyed hours of slip-and-slide hockey.
--Lori Neale Carlsbad, CA
The bike helmet we made for my daughter, Lily, age 5, is the talk of the town! I used colorful brads to layer fake flowers from a local reuse-it shop, then attached the blooms to her helmet with glue dots. Lily's helmet is so wild, we even had to swat away a couple of bees that came for a closer look.
--Tiffany Zook Canton, NY
To keep the tablecloth in place when we're eating outside, my sons—Jayden, age 5, and Tanner, 3—and I made tablecloth weights. First, we painted four rocks. Then we threaded beads on wire, wrapped the wire around the rocks, and attached each weight to an alligator clip, available at craft stores. When the weights are hooked to the corners of the tablecloth, they hold it down and prevent it from blowing off.
--Susan Staus Mohrsville, PA
With free park maps from Sea World, I created a board game for my boys. On each map I drew a dotted path through the park and put a few star stickers on the path. I cut pictures out of a third map and glued them to cards (attractions in one pile, other parts of the park in another), then covered the maps and cards with clear Con-Tact paper. The boys take turns rolling a die and moving along the path. When they land on an attraction, they find the matching card and get to keep it. When they land on a star, they draw a card from that pile and go to the place it shows, such as the nearest snack bar. The boys love playing the game, and they even use the maps as place mats.
--Kaci Lundgren Flagstaff, AZ