There's no right way to have fun in the summer. Here, find a handful of activities and treat ideas to keep your kids cool and happy all season long.

By Faye Wolfe
Family at the beach wearing heart-shaped sunglasses

When I was a kid and the sultry month of August rolled around, sometimes my mom would start the morning by announcing it was a beach day. Half an hour later, a cooler, beach blanket, and towels stowed in the trunk of the car (I'd already be wearing my bathing suit), we'd be headed for a spot along Massachusetts Bay to bask in the sea breezes and take a dip in the, ah, bracing waters. Other days, we'd pull down the blinds to keep the coolness in and the heat out, and with a pitcher of lemonade and a plate of ginger snaps, we'd settle in for the afternoon with an old movie.

I have very fond memories of those times, but I know there are lots of other cool ways to stay cool.

Craft a Sweet Treat

Ice Pops

There's a simple craft project, for instance, that turns an old standby summer treat into an intergalactic weapon for battling the heat. You don't have to be a junior Jedi to go for these Ice Pop Sabers, and they're so simple, even a kid can make them.


With its tropical tang, try Coco-Lime Slushy one-ups classic lemonade. To make a pitcher, put 5½ cups ice, ⅝” cup cream of coconut (look for it in the ethnic food aisle of the supermarket), 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and ¼ cup water in a blender and blend until smooth. Top with a tiny umbrella for the full Caribbean effect.

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If your child has a summer birthday, there's a birthday cake so chill, just its appearance can take the temperature down a degree or two. The Cool-as-Ice-Cream Cake looks impressive, but in fact, it's far easier to make than it looks—the secret ingredients are oval cookies and gummy Lifesavers.

Play a Cooling Game

Freezy Tees Contest

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If you have a bunch of kids to keep cool, organize a Freezy Tees Contest—perfect for an August birthday party or when your backyard has turned into camp for the neighborhood kids. Soak a bunch of T-shirts in water, wring them out, fold, stack, and freeze them, placing waxed paper between each to keep them separate. Hand the frozen-stiff tees out to the kids and have them race to see who can get into one first.

Water tag

When the kids need to run around but it's steamy outside, help them keep their cool by filling a couple of plastic water bottles and sending them out to play Splash Tag. Technically, the squirted lose—but really, anyone who gets splashed is a winner in this game. Up the challenge by taping a piece of toilet paper to the back of everyone's shirt. When the TP is so soaked it falls off, you're out.