Waterparks are tons of fun, but often expensive and out-of-the-way. Why not cool off downtown, for free? Everyone loves the hypnotic aesthetic appeal of a fountain, but what's even better than admiring a fountain is playing in one!
Here are some of our favorite shots of downtown summer fun:
“When you are a kid you get to ride bikes, scooters, play with toys and use your imagination. You don’t have to go to work or do all the things old people do.” These are wise words from Caine, the boy who became an Internet sensation for his cardboard arcade and who recently reflected on growing older for his 10th birthday.
While we hope that adults still find time to play, Caine is right that childhood is a particularly opportune time to explore, discover, and create. The good news is that at age 10, he still has a few years before officially making the transition from “child” to “adolescent,” and we hope he makes the most of them!
To help him out, we’ve created a bucket list of things every kid should do before turning 13. Of course, we could go on and on, but here (in no particular order) are 23 things we consider essential. What would you add?
Wallow in mud
Run down a dune, roll down a hill
Swim in an ocean, lake, or river
Touch the sky with your toes
Climb a tree, scale a boulder
Jump off a rope swing
Build a fort for a secret club
Dig a hole deeper than you are tall
Scrape a knee, bruise an elbow, or break an arm
Hang upside down
Throw a snowball
Invent a recipe
Sell homemade lemonade from a homemade lemonade stand
Make something with a cardboard box
Take apart a piece of machinery and put it back together again
Crown yourself King or Queen of the forest
Catch a bug in your hands
Build a fire
Jump in a pile of leaves
Bury a treasure and draw a treasure map
Wear a cape
Photos (top to bottom) by Rob (cc), Kerala Taylor, David (cc), and chascar (cc).
Let the games begin! Since our brave Playground Challengers are spending quite a bit of time playing this summer, we asked them what Olympic events their kids would rock... if the Olympics were held at the playground.
Here are five of our favorite new Playground Olympic events -- plus one event we hope your kids don't champion!
In which of the following would your kids take home the Gold? Got any new Playground Olympic events to add to our list?
"Both my kids would get a gold medal in giving their mom a heart attack! How do they both manage to find the ONE thing that makes me sprint like a maniac?" - Amy Keyishian (Photo by Eric Lewis, cc)
"My youngest, who is six, would win the 'I have no fear so I disappear' playground event. You have to keep an eye on this one, she's quick!" - Myrdin Thompson (Photo by W2 a-w-f-i-l, cc)
"My six year old said she would beat any kid at running while hula hooping on the playground." - Elizabeth Bonin (Photo by Steven Depolo, cc)
"My almost three and four year old do endurance - they are two-hours-in-the-sandbox kind of players." - Angelika Paul (Photo by Alec Couros, cc)
"If there was a 'hot lava' competition where my kids didn't have to touch the playground floor? They'd totally own that." - Alex Nguyen (Photo by Nate McBean, cc)
"Oldest son? He's back at the house participating in the Summer Couch Olympics. So far he has a gold medal in eating an entire bag of goldfish crackers in one sitting." - Myrdin Thompson
Do you have Olympic fever? We do. After all, the Olympics encapsulates many of the elements that make outdoor play so critical: teamwork, skill development, challenge, and fitness, to name just a few.
This Saturday, July 28, As First Lady Michelle Obama leads the U.S. Delegation to the 2012 Olympic Games, she’s calling on families around the country to support Team USA, not just by cheering on our athletes, but also by organizing their own Olympic Fun Days.
Since we can’t think of any more fitting place to hold your own Olympics than at the playground, here are five Olympic-inspired playground games:
Slide shotput: Place a bucket at the bottom of a slide. Competitors must each “put” five tennis balls down the slide. The one who gets the most in the bucket wins the gold.
Monkey relay: Divide into teams and hold relay races across the monkey bars. To discourage recklessness, competitors must balance something on their heads—may we suggest a stuffed monkey? If the monkey falls off, the contestant must start over.
Synchronized swinging: Teams swing together for 30 seconds each. A panel of judges determines which team is the most synchronized.
Long swing jump: This one is already a classic playground favorite—who can jump the farthest off the swing?
Playground ping-pong: Teams of two volley a ping-pong ball across various pieces of playground equipment, like slides, swingsets, monkey bars, and jungle gyms. The team who can keep the ball going the longest wins. Particularly recommended for teens and tweens!
Find an Olympic Fun Day near you, or organize your own at Meetup.com. What are your ideas for Olympic playground games? Please share in the Comments section below!
As you may know, we at KaBOOM! are big fans of ice cream -- and it's not just because we were the first nonprofit to have its own Ben & Jerry's flavor. Ice cream, in moderation, brings joy to children's lives. And it is best relished outside, after a day full of outdoor play.
So of course we were excited to learn that July is National Ice Cream Month! Why not pay homage to this exquisitlely frosty treat by making your own? You don't need any fancy equipment -- just ice, salt, tape, and a coffee can.
The best part? Your kids can get a healthy dose of outdoor play while they're at it. Here's how:
Are your kids getting enough outdoor play this summer? We wish we could tell you to open your front door and shoo them outside, but sadly, many will find only empty streets, void of other kids to play with.
We can help you fix that. Here are five ways you can save play in your community, by not only getting your kids outside, but also the whole neighborhood. Click on each photo below for instructions on how to get started. Then, go play!
Close a street for play. Photo via nycstreets (cc).
Turn your front yard or driveway into a neighborhood playspace. Photo via clappstar (cc).
Start a neighborhood summer camp. Photo via Aaron Selverston, Palo Alto Patch.
“It’s not fair” is a common refrain amongst children. When in reference to a friend getting more money from the tooth fairy or a sibling getting a slightly larger scoop of ice cream, we adults tend to be dismissive.
But what six-year-old Laurence Howard finds “not fair” is a much more serious claim. A resident of Red Bank Run Townhomes in West Deptford, New Jersey, Laurence says of new outdoor play restrictions imposed by condo management: "It's not fair for all the kids, because we need to play, we need air, it's not fair because everybody has stuff to ride.”
Says Jeziah Lopez, "Being inside just playing video games, it's not good for your body."
"It's not good for our freedom," Antonio Leon chimes in.
According to 6 ABC Action News, children at Red Bank Run Townhomes will no longer be able to ride bikes, scooters, and skateboards in the parking lot and other common areas. Why? Because “the activity could be harmful and even dangerous to [the children] or to others.” From now on, all outdoor play will be relegated to a small playground in the rear of the complex.
It’s no secret that we at KaBOOM! love playgrounds. But we also support children playing in other public spaces, particularly when a playground doesn’t accommodate older children or provide room for bikes, scooters, skateboards and other wheeled devices. We also believe that a group of playing children is perfectly capable of sharing a space with attentive adult drivers.
The real danger, of course, is not kids playing in a parking lot, but kids being forced inside. As the Red Bank Run children astutely point out, to deny them air is not good for their bodies or their freedom. Perhaps the community would be better off if Laurence, Jeziah, and Antonio ran the condo board instead. First up on the agenda? May we suggest a ban on careless drivers in the parking lot?
There are lots of nice things about Hawaii. But for most of us, the promise of an exotic beachside vacation comes with a lengthy plane ride and a hefty price tag. And while you may not live in Hawaii, we bet there are lots of nice things about your hometown too, if you take the time to look.
Being a nonprofit with a vision of a playground within walking distance of every child in America, we're especially partial to playgrounds. Why not take a week off work to explore the playgrounds your hometown has to offer? Here are five reasons to take a playground staycation:
Explore new places right at home – Step out of your “playground comfort zone.” There are probably many hidden playground gems in your hometown that you’ve never taken the time to visit. Ask your kids to help you find new places to play -- don't forget spray parks, natural playspaces, and outdoor sports facilities!
Be a kid again -- You don't need jet skis to recapture the thrill of outdoor play. Adults are allowed on the playground, too. Swing as high as you can, soak yourself at a spray park, and wallow in the mud!
Catch up on life – Playing is great, but you can also take some time out on the sidelines. In fact, it's good for your kids to play on their own, so go ahead and browse that stack of magazines you've fallen behind on, search for new recipes to try, or get your daily news fix.
Save money – The best part about playgrounds? They're free and close to home! Stretch your savings even further by packing a lunch for the day and, when possible, walking or biking to your daily destination.
Avoid travel hassles – Kids + travel = stress! Don't worry about packing bags, making your flight, entertaining your child on an airplane or long car ride, or navigating unfamiliar territory. Just breathe easy and look forward to a hassle-free day of playing at the playground!
And here's a bonus reason -- you can win prizes! From July 3 to August 13, every photo you submit of the playgrounds you visit can earn you an entry in our weekly sweepstakes drawing. We're giving away gift cards for toys, shoes, ice cream, outdoor gear, and more!