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63 Things to Do With Your Kids Before They Grow Up

This is an excerpt from a Southwest Airlines article that I loved. You can read the whole article full of fun ideas at Spirit Magazine.

2. Destroy a toaster. Next time you replace an appliance, give the old model to your kid. Together, you can dissect the machine and examine its parts. Don’t know much about circuitry? offers a primer.

11. Camp out.
Pitch a tent in the backyard, grab sleeping bags and flashlights, and spend a night under the stars.

13. Go guerrilla. Commit random, anonymous acts of kindness with your child, like leaving flowers in mailboxes, shoveling your neighbor’s driveway after a hard snow, or clapping in public.

14. Get lost in a snow globe. Not literally. Instead, make a homemade snow globe with a miniature winter scene starring your family. Find step-by-step instructions by searching for “snow globe” at

16. Explode a volcano. Baking-soda volcanoes are a staple of science fairs for a reason. They appeal to budding chemists, volcanologists, and general kaboom-ists everywhere. And the kids seem to like them, too. For a step-by-step guide to construction, visit and search for “volcano.” Soon you’ll be ankle-deep in lava.

18. Go puddle-jumping.
Grab a pair of water shoes and splash to your heart’s content.

21. Make pizza.

Tired of your kids picking toppings off their slices? Have them make their own. After enough pepperoni/chocolate sauce and peanut butter/meatball combos, they’ll never complain about a Hawaiian pie again.

27. Stuff a time capsule. Pick a selection of objects that represent this specific moment: today’s newspaper, a mix CD of music, this week’s TV Guide, your last grocery receipt, a stamp, an printout of the top-selling toys, and the like. Then write a note to your future selves describing what everyone likes to do and their plans for the future. Finally, make a prediction about what things will be like 10 years hence. Stuff everything, along with a family picture, inside a plastic storage bin, acid-free box, or other non-biodegradable container, and hide the capsule in a safe place. That could be the attic, the garage, the basement, a spare bedroom, an off-the-beaten-track closet—anywhere you can “bury” your capsule. Resist the urge to peek for at least a year.

30. Build an obstacle course in your backyard. Take full advantage of your natural resources. Have a tree with a sturdy branch? Hitch a rope to it and let your little athletes swing over a makeshift “moat,” complete with blue beach blanket and stuffed crocodiles. Short bushes become hurdles, porch steps platforms to pole vault onto, and fountains obstacles to dodge. Use empty boxes (to stack and crawl through) and spare lumber (to create a balance beam). Finally, set up stations throughout the course where the kids must perform an activity, such as jumping rope 10 times or throwing a football through a hanging hula-hoop.

36. Make mud pies. Just combine dirt and water.

37. Launch water balloons. Grab an old towel, several feet of surgical tubing, two small pieces of wood (about 6 inches long), duct tape, and scissors. Cut the towel into a 14-inch-by-14-inch square, then cut a 3-inch-by-3-inch square out of each of the four corners to create four tabs. (The cloth should now resemble a fat plus sign.) Fold one piece of wood into the top and bottom tabs, and use the duct tape to tightly seal the material in place. Fold the tubing in half, then lay it over the remaining tabs so that one line of tubing hits each piece. The cloth should evenly divide the remaining tubing, so you will have equal amounts of excess lying on either side. Fold the tabs over the tubing and seal them shut. Now you’re ready to launch. Tie the free end of the tubing to a tree, then hold the other side in your hand to provide tension. Have your kid place a water balloon in the pocket, pull back, and wait for the splat. For more detailed instructions, see

46. Make a mobile. Alexander Calder gave the form cred by infusing his works with something unknown to most modern art: fun. Find a Calder near you at, then let your kids create their own mobile with a hanger, string, and a little imagination.

49. Make a bird feeder. Grab some seeds, wire, a jar of peanut butter, and a pinecone. Twist the wire around the top of the cone to create a hanger, then let your kids spread peanut butter over the cone and sprinkle the seeds on top. Place your creation in the freezer for an hour. Hang the seed-covered cone in your backyard, and watch the birds come flocking. For an educational twist, have a copy of The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher (Thunder Bay Press) on hand, or head to, to identify the birds that drop in for a snack.

56. Play with shadows.

Start with the flying bird (see above). Then work your way up to the art of Raymond Crowe. (Search YouTube for ‘hand shadow’ and enjoy the master’s wonderful world.)

57. Learn math. But with shaving cream—because chalk is so 2007. Instead, give your child a lap-sized dry-erase board, cover it with shaving cream, and let her work problems in the goo.

For maximum parenting enjoyment, please follow these directions: Take your child fishing, preferably someplace where the fish rarely bite. Prepare the tackle, cast the line, untangle the line, and cast again. Repeat until the child’s attention wanders (three to five minutes on average). By now he should be thoroughly absorbed in an activity that has nothing to do with fishing. Join in on this activity. Plunk rocks into the water, look for frogs, dig in the mud, lie on your bellies and stare at the minnows. Just remember that you are not the fun expert here. Your kid is. Whatever you end up doing will be enjoyable, so long as he leads the way. Just prepare to be surprised.


Amy said…
What a great list! I love it!
Jamie said…
Oh this is such a great list!! :-) Love it!
Christi said…
Love your list! We just spent a (heavenly) week doing fun things you mentioned - fishing, throwing rocks, and splashing about. It really was a blast to "be a kid again".

Thanks for sharing!
Hi... it's a fab list... but i guess the article has been taken off the Spirit mag site. Do you still hv the issue with you.. and could you send me a scan or a txt of the full list. I know its painful but I hv a 7yr old son and would love to do some of the stuff that you have on your list. thanks so much
Anonymous said…
The thing about fishing... I never thought about it like that. Instead of arguing with your kid to do what you want, folllow them. That's what I will do next time. I'm gonna learn how to have fun with a stick. :-)
Melissa A.
Jax, FL
I would also love the full list if anyone has it

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