Ten Eco-Friendly, Wallet-Friendly Summer Family Activities

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School’s out for summer and the lazy, hazy days seem to stretch on…and on… and on! Don’t fret-we have a great “green” list to get you started.

1.  Make your own paper.

This one is super easy. Recycle your old newspapers by making paper. It can be used to create a journal or scrapbook, protect seeds in the garden, or whatever else your imagination creates!

2.  Re-use plastic bottles!

3.  Compost right in your backyard.

Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic materials. It’s also a great way to dispose of leftovers without stinking up your kitchen trash! Find a local composting program by visiting the EPA’s website!

4.  Kids can get creative making their own tie dye t-shirts.

Grab one of Dad’s old, white t-shirts or pick up an inexpensive pack of undershirts at the store (usually sold in packs of 2 or 3). Next, gather up sections of the fabric and secure each section with a rubber band or string. Dip twisted sections into eco-friendly dye (purchased separately). After each section has been dipped, carefully cut off the rubber bands or strings. Gently shake the t-shirt and hang on a clothes line or curtain rod to dry. Then throw in the washer by itself! Use only cold water and 1/2 cup salt to set the colors (no detergent).

5. Make your own play dough.

For each recipe, Mix ingredients together well to form dough.

Here is an edible recipe for play dough that doubles as a snack!

  • 1 c. peanut butter
  • 1 c. honey
  • 1 1/2 c. dry powdered milk (or more to make firm)


This makes traditional salt dough, into which food coloring can be added.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup water

You can find these play dough recipes and more by checking out Simply Moms’ website

6.  DIY Bubbles!

Make your own bubble solution by mixing together:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons light Karo syrup
  • 4 tablespoons dishwashing soap

Everyday household items make perfect bubble wands. Bend a wire hanger into a circle, or cut the center out of a plastic lid (yogurt or margarine container) and thumbtack it to a wooden chopstick. You can even use a flyswatter to make hundreds of tiny bubbles! Adding glycerin to the mix will make it last longer.

Bored with bubbles? You can also make your own finger paint!

7.   Rainy Day Games.

  • Kids won’t get bored of playing these board games with an environmental twist by TDC Games. They’ll challenge your Earth IQ, and most of the biodegradable pieces will grow into wildflowers when planted!
  • Setup camp indoors. Move furniture to another room and pitch a tent or build your own fort out of blankets and boxes. Fill it with blankets, trail mix, flashlights, coloring books and crayons

8.  Recycling Crafts

TodayIsFun.com is a great website run by two dads, Steve and Paul. It’s filled with free, fun and educational activities. Here are a few environmentally friendly ones that Steve and Paul suggested for our Mambo Readers:

  • Jai Alai (or Scoop Ball) – A tossing game that makes use of empty oatmeal containers
  • Activity Tub – Made out of empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls.
  • Creature Creation – a DIY toy and craft made out of empty egg carton, some pens and pipe cleaners.
  • Cleaning Lemon (or if you have kids who are not interested in cleaning, call it the Racing Lemon.) – It is a great “green” way to have your kids help clean the tub.
  • Beware the Bopper! – This is a quick and easy way to get kids’ bodies moving.  It is particularly useful for times when you sense the kids have a lot of pent-up energy and are on the verge of acting rambunctious anyway.

9.  Make a Critter-licious meal with your kids

What’s for lunch? How about a Very Tasty Caterpillar (Pizza), Strawberry Mice for dessert and a Bee Sting (lemonade) to quench your thirst?

How to Make Strawberry Mice

  • Fresh organic strawberries
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Black decorators’ icing
  • Almond slivers
  • Toothpick
  • Red lace licorice

Slice a small section on the side of each strawberry so that it will sit flat on a plate. Use a small dab of icing to adhere a mini chocolate chip to the pointy end of the strawberry to make a nose. Add icing eyes. Wedge almond slivers into the strawberry for ears. Use a toothpick to poke a hole where you can insert a bit of licorice for the tail. Enjoy!

You can find these recipes and more at Family Fun’s website.

10.  Preserve the Summer

Home canning is a fun way to satisfy your child’s need to feel productive. It can also satisfy your wallet’s need to feel full! This is the perfect time to use up all those apples, peaches, pears and plums! Take advantage of summer’s bounty and make it last throughout the year. Check out these resources to get started!

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One Comment for “Ten Eco-Friendly, Wallet-Friendly Summer Family Activities”

  • Hello and thank you for the email updates! I saw re-use bottles up above and had to tell you that I picked up a laptop bag made entirely of re-used plastic bottles! Yeah. Amazing that they made fabric out of old plastic bottles.

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