Scripps Howard News Service

Rock legend Alice Cooper memorialized the joy of the last day of school in the band's ubiquitous 1972 hit, "School's Out."

With no school to fill youngsters' summer days, it's up to parents to figure out how to keep them busy and out of trouble.

Why not stretch their creativity muscles with fun activities? Here are 10 to generate memories.

1. Broadway Babies. Have the kids write, produce and put on a play each month. Check out library books on plays and theater, and have them encourage friends to join in. If your kids are tech savvy, let them create movies.

2. Memory Makers. Start a summer scrapbook. Let youngsters take photos of anything their hearts desire, using a child's digital or disposable camera. Have them work on scrapbooks each week. By summer's end, they will have a keepsake capturing tons of memories.

3. Freebie Frenzy. Get on your local visitors and conventions bureau Web site. Search for possibilities such as free movie nights or free or low-cost tickets for museums.

4. Host a Pirates Party. Gather your little Blackbeards for a pirate-themed party. Fill a treasure chest with candy and other treats, and have the children dress up. Draw a treasure map and have the kids complete tasks before receiving the next clues. Consider activities such as making puzzles, solving riddles or competing in pie-eating or bubble-gum-blowing contests.

5. Get Global. Each week, check out a library book on a foreign country. Learn with the kids about different cultures, foods and clothing. Declare "(Name of Country) Day," on which you all prepare typical foods, learn phrases and play popular games from that nation.

6. Super Savers. Institute a coupon-clipping contest and have your kids help you hunt for savings. Put them in charge of coupons for alternate weeks and keep a running tally of what was spent each week. At summer's end, the one with the lowest dollar amount wins a prize.

7. Freeze Time. Build a time capsule for the summer of 2008. Have your kids keep a diary or journal, take photos, make a mix CD of favorite songs and collect souvenirs. In late summer, have them put the items in an airtight container and bury it. In 10 years, they can dig it back up and laugh at the fun times they shared. Bury it at least 4 feet underground, but check with your utility companies before digging. Mark the spot and record where you've buried the time capsule.

8. Wet 'n' Wild Time! When the weatherman predicts hot and steamy weather, host an old-fashioned sprinkler party. It's fun, inexpensive and always a blast. Ask neighbors, friends and relatives to bring different kinds of sprinklers, water guns and slides, and fill up water balloons. It will be a great way to keep the neighborhood entertained and cool.

9. Kiddie Kitchen. Have your youngsters create fun meals on their own. Start with a cookbook such as Emeril Lagasse's "There's a Chef in My Soup." Let the kids do everything from setting the table to seating their guests to serving the food. Be prepared for a mess — and for a good time and great pictures. But always make sure you or another responsible adult is on hand to supervise the kitchen activities.

10. Karaoke, Anyone? On the next rainy day, try a karaoke DVD for kids. They can set up a stage, make costumes from old clothes and rehearse. They'll be ready to give a concert in the late afternoon or evening.


The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com.