Archive | Summer Fun

Intertwangling Science into Your Next Backyard Adventure

Let’s Get Science-y!

Your backyard is a great place for your child to get outside in play. In addition to swimming and playing outdoor sports, your child can also use your backyard as a science experiment. If you are interested in helping them achieve this, you may want to familiarize yourself with some popular backyard activities, especially those that have a focus on nature and science.

Exploring your backyard is not only a fun activity, but it is also educational. There are a large number of living, breathing creatures that can be found outdoors. All children love exploring nature, but there are some who may enjoy this exploration more than others. Those children are likely to be toddlers or elementary school aged children. Since young children may need your assistance, you will want to pick backyard activities that you will also enjoy.

One of the many ways that you can incorporate science into your backyard is by studying the plants that can be found in your yard. While all backyards are likely to have a number of different plants or flowers, yours may have more. For the best type of environment, you are encouraged to explore areas of your yard that have yet to be mowed.

Your backyard is also likely full of a number of different insects. Like plants and flowers, your child may enjoy examining these bugs. It is not only fun to see what bugs live in your backyard, but it is also exciting to learn about how they survive. There is also a good chance that your children may leave your yard with a new pet. I remember my kids would spent hours catching bugs in their little insect catchers and staring at them with mini magnifying glasses before letting let go. Confession: I still have our toy insect carrier/catcher even though my kids are way too big for that (so they say). Too many fun memories to get rid of it yet 🙂

toy bug catcher

In addition to the living things that can be found in your backyard, you and your child may also want to examine the weather and the impact it has on the yard and everything inside of if. Backyard conditions change as the weather changes. By examining your backyard after a rainy day, your child may find that many of the plants, flowers, and bugs have either changed or retreated to safer grounds. Examining the effect the weather has on the things in your backyard is not only fun, but educational.

science weather kit for kids

To make the most out of your child’s next backyard adventure, you may want to consider purchasing them some science supplies. These supplies may include, but should not be limited to containers, butterfly catching nets, magnifying glasses, picture books, and resource guides. If your child is planning on capturing a few insects, a small cage or breathable container may be just what they need. These supplies, along with others, can be purchased from most retail stores. These stores may include department stores, home improvement stores, and toy stores.

To keep your exploration focused on education, science books and nature resource guides may be a nice addition to your child’s science collection. Many books and resource guide have a focus on insects, birds, plants, and flowers. Many of these resources will provide you with information and pictures. For a large selection of science and nature books, you are encouraged to shop online or visit your local book store.

When examining the plants, bugs, and flowers in your backyard, you and your child may want to document what you see. This can easily be done with a notebook or a camera. By taking pictures, your child will always be able to remember their exploration adventures. Those pictures could also be used for other crafts. Scrapbooks and collages are a great way to turn traditional photographs into something much more. Scavenger Hunts around this topic is always a hit with kids too.

Whether your child plans on exploring your backyard or they do so without intending to, it is likely that they will interested with what they see and learn. Incorporating science into your next backyard adventure is just one of the many things that you and your child can do outdoors; however, it may be the most beneficial.


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18 Awesome Summer Activities for Brainerd Lakes Area Moms and Kids!

Welcome to Summer! Fun, frolic, quality family time, chances for adventure, the official start to several months of MOM being head of the Entertainment Committee.

This will be the Flansburg’s 5th year of creating what we call The No Bummer Summer.


It’s our chance as a family to try new things and keep the kiddies busy without the assistance of daycare or baby sitters. It’s also a way to embrace this Season of Parenthood and try to create as many memories and learning experiences as possible.  Here’s some of the ideas and “adventures of interest” I have come across and hope to try this summer:

Backyard Bowling: I love the simplicity of this idea! It’s basically just as it sounds. Fill some water bottles with water and food coloring, arm the kids with a ball and enjoy a couple round of bowling!

DIY Backyard Bowling – Easy to make with kids and a great way to recycle the 2-liter bottles leftover after a summer BBQ. Repin and start saving those soda bottles.:

Rock Picking: As a family, we love rocks and love to go rock picking. It’s entertaining, educational, and a great way to get outside and explore.

Rocking picking for summer fun

I was pretty stoked when I found 30 Playful Ways to Teach Young Kids About Rocks:

Leader Pig Races: We’ve done this before and it is a HOOT. Hosted by The Bear’s Den in Leader Minnesota and every Friday and Saturday evening at 7 p.m. are the pig races. This event is geared towards kids without no only the famous “LA Racing Piggies” but plenty of other fun activities like hula hoop contests, jump rope, bouncy balls races and more.

LA Pig Races


Colorful fabric collars are around the piggie’s necks and a corresponding wooden pig is randomly handed out to kids in the audience. The child who holds the same color of pig as the one that crosses the finish line first wins a little bag of goodies. Totally fun and I highly recommend it. Check out The Bear’s Den Facebook Page HERE.

Geocaching: I don’t know much about this, but it sounds like something fun to try.

Parks: Playgrounds and parks! We are blessed with many good ones in the Brainerd Lakes Area and it’s a great way to get out and hang with other families as well. Some of our personal favorites include Whipple Beach, Loren Thompson Park, and Berrywood. There’s also two play groups for those of you with little tots. Fresh Air Fridays and Nisswa Time to Play can both be found on Facebook.

Game Day! Declare Game Day and play as many board games as you have time for!  Some good ones are:  Candyland, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Sorry Revenge, Farkle, Chutes and Ladders, Don’t Break The Ice, Clue, Monopoly Kids , Monopoly Frozen Edition and Operation.

Nature Walk: Go for a stroll in the woods and just appreciate that you are able to do so. Challenge your kids to a Nature Scavenger Hunt and there are awesome Nature Scavenger Hunt printables  here and here.

Great places for a nature hike is Northland Arboretum , Crow Wing State Forest, and Pillsbury State Forest.

Go Garage Saling: One of our favorite ways to find the best goodies for not a lot of money. Check your local paper or visit a Facebook Garage Sale Group like this one or this one.

If you plan to HAVE a garage sale, check out this handy (and free) how-to guide and checklist


Have a ½ Birthday Party: Our kids are both “winter babies” so they miss out on the element of summer fun when it comes to having their birthday parties. So I thought, why not have a “1/2 Birthday Party?” A 1/2 Birthday would be the halfway mark from their last birthday and the upcoming birthday. To “fun it up” you could have the party on the half hour mark (12:30 or 5:30), cut a cake in half (this way each kids will get a 1/2 of a cake for their Half Birthday) and float balloons that would the number half of the age they are turning (if they will be turning 10, float 5 balloons in the party area). If I do this, I think I will skip the presents and focus more on fun like renting a Bounce House from Party World for a “half day.”

Rollin in The Dough: Make homemade edible play-doh. Here are 10 recipes to try out (and you can decide which one tastes the best!).

Make a Pizza (Party): Everyone loves pizza (well, almost everyone. Our 7 year-old still claims she hates pizza. Really?) but for the most part having a mini DIY Pizza Party is always a crowd-pleaser. We like the Betty Crocker brand of dry pizza crust mix  and the Contadina brand of sauce. Choose 4-5 different toppings, shape out several mini pizzas with the dough, and encourage everyone to tap into their inner Pizza Chef 🙂 Here’s some fun ideas from the Baker Mama.


DIY Pizza Night

**for a Virtual Pizza Making Party check out this Pizza Making app for iPads from iGame Mom

Create a Dirt City: I remember doing this for HOURS as a child (yes I was a tomboy). It works best if you are blessed with a sandy area in your yard, but worse case scenario is have some sand brought in. Hook your kids up with shovels, toy dump trucks, cars, animals, containers, and even dinosaurs. Then it’s time to build mountains, rivers, streets, moats, or castles and then use the toys to play, dig, and create for hours.

Hop on Your Bikes or Strap on Your Blades: We are blessed with miles of safe and wonderfully paved bike and walkways on the Paul Bunyan Trail.

After- Dark Play: See what bugs come out at night, play shadow games, or flashlight tag.  Grab some glow sticks, light up gloves, or a child’s headlamp and light up the night! Don’t forget bug spray. has some great after-dark game ideas for kids as well.

after dark games for kids


Color With Nature: I absolutely ADORE this Color With Nature activity from Wildlife Fun 4 Kids. I cant wait to do this one!


What have I missed? What summer activity is your family looking forward to? What Brainerd Lakes Area attraction did I leave out? Please be sure and share in the comments below, or on our Facebook Page HERE.

Happy Summer!

**some of these links are affiliate links. Lakes Area Mom Squad was not compensated in any way for mention of the above businesses.

An Awesome Book for Summer Reading :Pink Fire Trucks by Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri

Through my work-at-home travels I have encounter many, many amazing people. Gladys Elizabeth is one of those people
I “met” Gladys while being the project manager for Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Gladys Elizabeth Barbieri has been an elementary school teacher for almost 20 years.  She loves to teach beginning reading and every night makes wishes when the stars come out and dance. She is also a bilingual children’s author and has written several delightful books including Pink Fire Trucks.
Pink FireTrucks
I have to say Pink Fire Trucks absolutely charms me to my core especially the, “My Daddy says I can be whoever I want to be!” line in the book. I can just picture my own 8 year-old as Gladys Elizabeth in this story.
Pink Fire Trucks
This is what the author had to say about her book, Pink Fire Trucks.
amazon snag
Pink Fire Trucks is a personal favorite because of the crazy occurrences that have happened around this story. The main character is Millie (my bff since 1981) and her father Juan Vázquez, a Puerto Rican man who was also a father figure to me.  Millie has been involved in politics since high school, she was president of San Diego State and was a legislative aide in her 20’s. Now she is vice president of Planned Parenthood here in Los Angeles. When you read the story you will better understand her character.  
Also, I got the story idea when I took my then 5 year-old niece to the fire station. I read this story at a local bookstore this past July and a mommy asked if the female firefighter was based on a true person. It was, but I felt weird acknowledging that due to privacy purposes. That mommy later emailed me informing me that the female captain had recently passed away.
As you can see, this story has been tragic and beautiful at the same time. These serendipitous coincidences blow me away. I couldn’t have written them even if I tried. This is why I love this book, not so much because of the story, but the background story.  
Pink Fire Trucks

Side note: PINK FIRE TRUCKS is a finalist in the category for “Most Inspirational Children’s Picture Book -Spanish/Bilingual.”

You can connect with Gladys Elizabeth on her blog:


Twitter: @chuchosbooks

Please also check out Gladys’ other bilingual children’s book Rubber Shoes HERE.

Cool (And Healthy) Summer Snack Ideas

Last summer our family fell victim to the “too much crap eating” syndrome. The over abundance of  tater tots, chips and mac-n-cheese soon became evident on everyone’s waistline so this year we have committed to finding some better Summer Snack Ideas and eating better during the summer months.

Honestly, this is no small task for our family of four incredibly picky human beings. Lucky for me, our 11 year old is going through a stage where he will eat virtually anything as long as it’s deemed “food.” In fact, he wears his new nickname of The Eating Machine with pride. The other two (hubby and 8 year old) not-so-much. Both are picky as heck and would be happy dining of mac-n-cheese and toast 365 days a year.

Undeterred, I have set off on a mission to find some fun new foods that are easy to prepare and healthy too. Here are some of my favs.

This Fruit Sushi from the The Kids Activity Blog is off-the-hook cool and I think is even something my fam would eat! I know I will scarf it down. We plan to make some this weekend.

DIY Fruit sushi, frushi.

Grab the recipe HERE.

Encourage your family to Eat Bugs! Here’s another sweet idea for The Kids Activity Blog:

healthy snacks

Yummy, Healthy Easy had the motherload of snack ideas too:

20+ Healthy Snacks for Summer! A great collection of guiltless treats you can enjoy all summer long!

I honestly don’t know if my 8 year-old would eat this, but this recipe made ME DROOL! Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Kabobs

Grilled Chicken Kabobs

 Luckily, all four of us like yogurt and fruit so this might be a winner from Pillsbury

Berry Pie Trifle Shots

Crumbled pie crust layered between sweet yogurt and fresh berries, perfect for a tiny summer treat.

Berry Pie Trifle Shots

  • 1 Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 container (6 oz) Greek honey vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 container (6 oz) Greek blueberry or strawberry yogurt
  • 4 strawberries, sliced

Get directions here.

Trail Mix! We love trail Mix! Foodie Family has a great “GORP” Trail Mix idea that involves some of my kids favorite components (cereal, pretzels, choc chips). This is good road food and with one child with a peanut allergy, a safe one too.

Gorp, trail mix, scroggins... It's a delicious, quick pick-me-up no matter what you call it.


Summer Snack Food Grocery List

  • Pretzel sticks
  • Goldfish Crackers
  • Hummus
  • Fruit (and lots of it)
  • Canned baby sweet corn
  • Black Olives
  • Rice Cakes
  • Baby Carrots
  • Cheerios
  • Yogurt
  • Brown Rice or Jasmine Rice
  • Eggs (boiled eggs)

What great snack ideas do you have to share? Comment below!

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