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Looking for ways for your little ones to start the summer off right? Try one of these fun and easy activities that will have your kids staying active and carefree.

1. Blow bubbles.

What would summer be without the chance to blow bubbles? This is the perfect activity for those lazy afternoons with the kids. Head outdoors and have your kids mix together the bubble solution (or stick with the store-bought solutions) – you might even consider adding a bit of food color to the mix for a vibrant array of bubbles. You can get creative and have them make their own fun and wacky bubble wands out of household objects like straws, pipe cleaners, or clothes hangers – with parental supervision. Let them make a variety of different shapes and sizes, and hold a festival of bubbles in your backyard!

2. Have a movie marathon.

Break out the Disney classics or rent a few blockbuster hits or simply put together a stack of their favorites. Before the fun starts, take them out to the store to pick up some of their favorite theater snacks. Be sure to lay out enough blankets, throws, and pillows in case the movie-watching continues on until late into the night. If your kids are willing and old enough, scary movies can sometimes be great for summertime movie marathons (and the chills can help if you’re experiencing a heat wave); you’ll get some great bonding time in, especially when everyone huddles together during frightening scenes!

3. Hunt for treasure.

Treasure hunts are fun both inside and outside the house. For a simple treasure hunt, you can draw up a basic map or leave clues that will lead them to the treasure – or you can have them do the activity without any form of aid. If you do decide to go with a more traditional form of treasure hunting, then you’ll want to bury the loot somewhere in the backyard with some form of marker. If you’re looking to really amaze your younger munchkins, try burying some costume jewelry.

4. Direct a homemade movie.

Turn your son or daughter into a director for a day and make a homemade film. Create a short script and have your other kids audition for roles – while you and the director do the casting. You’ll want to consider creating a script that allows for equal amounts of screen-time for each actor. You can use props from around the house and create some simple backdrops – and maybe a movie clapboard out of cardboard. To make the area seem like a real movie set, designate certain rooms as dressing rooms and hang stars on the doors with the names of your young actors. Have the director use a pocket video camera or your mobile device to film the movie. Once you’re done with the filming session, consider showcasing their talents on YouTube!

5. Make a scrapbook.

If you have a nice stash of family vacation photos from spring break, you might consider asking your kids to help you put together a scrapbook that you can all enjoy for years to come. Roll out the craft paper, and gather up all the essentials: paper scraps, magazine clippings, stickers, crayons, markers, pencils and pens, tape and glue, embellishments, etc. You might want to pick out a large-sized scrapbook in order to give your kids enough room to be as creative as possible. Give each a large page and let the scrapbooking begin!

6. Play restaurant.

Summertime offers parents a great opportunity to have the little ones experiment in the kitchen. In order to play restaurant, you’ll want to have a large group join you in the kitchen as restaurant staff while the others take on roles as customers. Have your kids create and design their own simple menus, and set the table with a theme to match the type of cuisine you’ll be serving – don’t forget to help them come up with a catchy name for your restaurant! Once the main course is ready, you can assist your kids in dressing the part by providing aprons and small notepads to the waiters, chef hats made out of paper to the cooks, and a few fancy accessories to the customers (e.g., hats, sunglasses, or costume jewelry).

7. Build forts.

If they’re hosting a sleepover with friends, this activity is a must. You can stick to simple forts with bed sheets in the bedroom or couch cushions in the living room; or you can go all out and have the kids create forts throughout your home! Given the chance, kids are capable of creating complex forts in just about any room of the house. Supply them with old blankets and throws, empty cardboard boxes, and tons of pillow cushions. Large dining room tables are ideal for large forts, but stay on watch to make sure that they build safely.

8. Get up and dance.

This activity definitely helps get the kids off the couch. With the right kind of music, choreograph a dance or two. There are a few dance games out on the market that you can turn to for inspiration. Give them a chance to show off their moves and cooperate as a team! Once they successfully put a routine together, you can record the dance or have them put on a performance for the entire family!

9. Draw a sidewalk masterpiece.

Turn your front sidewalk or driveway into an art gallery, showcasing your kids’ finest chalk drawings. Simply provide them with the proper sidewalk chalk, and watch them unleash their inner creativity. You can also suggest themes for images or assign a mural project so that they can work together on one giant masterpiece. To get their competitive spirits up, you can even hold a sidewalk chalk contest to see who can draw the biggest or most colorful or most interesting picture – or you can ask each of them to cover the entire walkway with portraits of Mom and Dad!

10. Stage your own outdoor sporting events.

If you’ve got little athletes on your hands, now would be a great time to host some competitions in the backyard. You can gather supplies for the kinds of sports that your kids would be interested in playing. Hold a basketball tournament, a table tennis match, a Frisbee throwing contest, or a relay race from one end of the yard to the other; if you have a pool, you could try a few swimming events. You can set up a makeshift podium on your backyard porch, and make sure you’re ready to hand out some plastic bronze, silver, and gold medals to all your sports stars.

A. Noelle is the managing editor and staff writer for Savvy Auntie, the first community for cool aunts, great aunts, godmothers and all women who love kids. She is a contributor to the Chelsea Foundation‘s online magazine, Chelsea’s Beacon, and is the founder and manager of Chelsea’s Blog, a site dedicated to helping parents, guardians, and educators discover more effective methods for building lasting and meaningful relationships with children. Connect with her on Twitter @AudreyNoelani.