Free Musical Fun

     My family loves music. We sing through every van ride from the moment we sit in our seats until we open the doors and the radio shuts off. We absolutely love the app and finding new original songs on YouTube. But none of us can play an instrument. I'm hoping 'Lil Man will change that because he seems really interested in the names of notes and what sounds go together. It would be wonderful to have someone in our family who can play someday. I've always wanted to because I love to write songs, but I can never sing them with music. Too shy to collaborate, I figured they'd all just continue to be note-less.

     Luckily for us, we're able to make tons of fun melodies using the Audacity program. I love that so many free programs are available for anyone to use. And to go along with the music-editing software, there's, where you can pick up tons of beats, notes, melodies, and other awesome noises. This was one of my favorites:
     'Lil Man and I sat down to create a little something fun using the above sound and also a beat that I liked quite well, called Sultan.

        'Lil Man was pretty interested in how it all worked, as was Little Miss and Baby Bee. I was able to use a few effects to speed up, slow down, change pitch, and fade out. I also did a lot of basic edits, like cutting certain sections, pasting others, and reordering pieces. This is the result so far, pretty neat, I think:

     We thought it was really fun to do and hopefully, it will be just another way that we can spend time together and learn new things.

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Can NOT leave out Girl Scouts

     Okay, so if any of you have children in Girl Scouts, you know that it's not necessarily free.  However, on the application, there is a super important box for parents who need it to be.  Girl Scouts of America provides financial assistance to any child who can't afford the membership fee.  And of course, sometimes there are dues and if your troop requires it (thankfully ours do not) there are the uniforms.  There is also time invested in cookie sales, etc throughout the year and the gas involved in that.  But let's look at the pay-out.
     This was the only year that Punk got to be in Girl Scouts.  other years I didn't have a working vehicle at the time of sign-ups.  But this year ALONE:
     1.  She went on a hike through trails at the local lake and had a picnic.  Almost did it twice, but the black flies were ridiculous.
     2.  Went to an old-fashioned sock hop, sisters included.  It was a super fun time for them.
     3.  Spent the night with her mom (me) at the Museum of Science in Boston.  Granted, this one did cost me some money because we weren't a part of the previous fund-raising efforts.  I believe it cost us $83 to go to Boston from Maine and spend the night.  HUGE savings and well worth it.  I also brought spending money, which was optional.  We totally could have brought our own food and skipped the souvenirs and it still would have been amazing.
     4.  She went to a local art museum.
      5. Then she went to Sweet Frog for Ice cream afterward.
      6.  She participated in at-site cookie sales, helping her to gain confidence and interact in a healthy way with the general public.  This is huge because all of my kids are pretty shy in most situations.  Plus, it was 80's themed, so that's awesome in itself.  Who doesn't love a good costume party outside of Walmart?
     7.  Received coupons for free kids cones at the local ice cream shop for all of the kids in the house!  We used this in combination with the store's Dollar Days Mini Golf to get a super cheap fun time out this week.
     8.  Received a free family pass to the local lake.  This runs you $45 if you buy it yourself, so it was a huge blessing to have full year access to the lake.  We may or may not plan to go at lunch time because there is a free lunch program at the lake all summer long for anyone under 18.
     9.  Got to ride in a limo to a salon where she got her hair and nails done.  That day they also went to McDonald's, a local park, and had a photo shoot with yours truly.  It was a great day for them.
     10.  Learned recipes for organic smoothies from the lady at the local farmer's market and energy bites.
     11.  She painted art to hang in the house.
     12.  She planted herbs.
     13.  She made her own hula hoop (no photo for this one... her sisters lost her hoop).
     Other opportunities that she missed were making teacher's brunch (completely forgot about this one when the day came) and this awesome Frozen themed event.  It says $3, but it was free due to being sponsored by a local company... or something like that.  We didn't make it because our van went into a ditch on the way.  Darn ice patch.
     So even if we did pay the $15 membership fee, it would have paid for itself many, many times over, as you can see.  Luckily for us, we were able to get financial assistance.  So if you have a daughter, I highly recommend Girl Scouts, as it is a low cost/free way to get kids involved in lots of ways and in lots of areas.

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Alphabet Photo Tour!

     The concept of this free summer activity is a pretty simple one, but it can be altered to be more difficult or more fun.  The idea is that you get a camera and find items that start with each letter of the alphabet and take a photo of each.  This can be made more difficult by making it a competition between 2 or more groups of people to finish first.  It could also be made more fun by making it a scavenger hunt on the go and finding these things around town.
     We chose to do it in our yard over Memorial Day Weekend a couple years ago and some of them were a little hard to find.  Here's what we got:
Airplane ride-on toy
Bouncy Ball
Clouds, of course
Easter bucket
Junk pile
Lawn chair
Quench... it's a stretch
Rainbow.  Do ya see it!?
"X" marks the spot.  Totally cheated on this one

     Alas, no "Z".  I intended at the time to get a photo of Boog after he feel asleep, for "Zzzzz", but didn't for some reason. When we play again, we will set a time limit.  Each photo will be worth 1 point and each photo that depicts a double letter word, such as "bouncy ball", "green grass", or "elephant ear" will be worth 2 points.  And any 3+ letter photos, like "rusty red roof" would be worth 5.  We might also split into teams or do it in a store or something to shake it up.  I think the game has a lot of potential to be fun, especially if prizes are involved.  Free prizes, of course... like getting to choose what movie to watch that night.
     Have you ever done an alphabet themed scavenger hunt?  How did you play it?  Any ideas for shaking this up some?

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Wagon Rides are Super Fun!

The girls on The Man's homemade cart.
     The Man has made a yearly tradition of sorts.  About once a year he makes a new wagon for the girls which he hauls behind the lawn mower for fun.  It's really more of a cart, I suppose.  It's just something for the girls to hop onto and enjoy the slow leisurely ride of the tractor on a nice day.  He never uses the mower deck, it's mainly just for fun.
Streaker and Baby Bee enjoying an off-season sled ride.
     The cart is always made of things around the house.  Of course people don't generally have several spare axles hanging about, but perhaps some old bikes with good tires and a nice strong pole?  I bet if you are creative enough, something can be made.  Perhaps a pedicab (is that what they are called..? The hand pulled carts?)  Anyway, what I am saying is that you can make wagons or carts out of many different things.  And in the winter, think "sleigh" or even "sled".
The girls enjoying some music and a ride.
     We don't like to force the sled to choose seasons, we let it frolic with Summer all it wants, lol.  Of course the tractor was on the slowest speed and it is very easy to stop, so we didn't really worry about any accidents.  When the girls asked to attach a sled to the back of the cart, we obliged.  If you do not intend to go very slow or are otherwise worried, please do not try the sled attachment.  It really is for very slow rides on the grass only.

     The girls all loved this activity and it only cost the gas that needs to be replaced from 20 minutes of mowing.  The axle was hanging about, the wood was spare wood, and the seat is from his old S-10 *heart*  I miss that truck.  The frame was something he had welded from the old swing set, but a wheelbarrow would make for some nice rides in a pinch if all else fails.

     You also may want to lay down some safety rules first if you are using a tractor.  Such rules might be that the tractor ill stop if anyone is caught moving about while it is in motion.  Another rule might be that all hands and legs stay in the cart at all times, no exceptions or bigger kids on the outside and smaller kids on the inside.

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365 Free Summer Activities and More

     Welcome to Fun-365.  I'm sure you have noticed that times are tough, especially if you support a little one.  But luckily there is a never ending supply of fun for free that you can have right in your own neighborhood!  We've scoured the net... and our own creative stores... for fun ideas that don't involve hours in front of a screen and we've come up with 365 amazingly fun things to do with your kids this summer (and for summers to come).  As we do these activities ourselves, we will link the post with the activity, but for now, we have linked many of them to our favorite tutorials to get you started.
     Keep an eye out a few months from now for our Autumn and Winter list!  If you like this, please share or pin so that others can like it too.  Thanks :)

Free (or almost free)

1. Soda bottle bowling
2. Alphabet photo tour - take a photo of one thing that starts with each letter
3. Camp out during the day
4. Explore a creek
5. Have a picnic
6. Create a documentary - A day in the life..?
7. Clean out a vehicle
8. Make grass or acorn whistles
9. Draw a self portrait
10. No electronics day - this one saves you money!
11. Draw pictures for each other
12. Make a movie poster
13. Run relay races
14. Do brain teasers together
15. Play Pictionary
16. Visit the pet store - no harm in looking
17. Opposite day
18. Go bug hunting
19. Explore the woods
20. Bubble paint
21. Watch a movie
22. Be blind/deaf for a day - NOT an outside activity
23. Copy your favorite book illustration
24. Star gaze
25. Write letters to each other
26. Learn to coupon
27. Make a faerie ring
28. Have a bonfire
29. Make paper airplanes
30. Have a bike parade
31. Play school
32. Sing karaoke
33. Donate old books
34. Do a nature color hunt
35. Ask each other silly questions
36. Do an art swap
37. Make squiggle drawings
38. Learn about another culture
39. Whittle a bar of soap - let kids use spoons to carve with
40. Create a maze
41. Catch frogs
42. Make a touch and feel box
43. Make portraits of each other
44. Play house
45. Write a letter to someone - send it if you have a stamp
46. Make some cookie cutters
47. Take a free online art lesson
48. Skip rocks
49. Bake something together
50. Play hot potato
51. Open a "restaurant"
52. Make finger puppets
53. Make finger print art
54. Write a song
55. Search for fireflies - catch them if you can
56. Make tin can telephones
57. Recreate a favorite movie scene and film it
58. Write and perform a play
59. Have a car wash
60. Try musical glasses
61. Pull weeds
62. Write about a memory
63. Have a bicycle wash
64. Fly a kite
65. Juggle
66. Have a fashion show
67. Make a story by taking turns adding sentences
68. Draw a caricature
69. Make a journal jar
70. Have a spelling or math bee
71. Create a flag for your made up country
72. Learn a line dance
73. Feed the birds
74. Make popsicles
75. Make ice cream
76. Sing along to the radio - use brushes or spoons for full effect
77. Play hide and seek
78. Draw with the non-dominant hand
79. Learn something new
80. Make and use your own glue
81. Play a card game
82. Have a sleep-over with the cousins
83. Make pysanky eggs using crayons and food coloring
84. Start a collection
85. Paint your fingernails
86. Create a mosaic
87. Make an eye spy bottle
88. Have paper airplane distance contests
89. Trade kids with someone else for the day
90. Leaf rubbings
91. Hum a tune and let others guess the song
92. Build a backyard mini golf course with old cups and paper flags
93. Learn and use some survival tips
94. Make a play theater
95. Do papier mache
96. Make fun hairstyles
97. Have a family concert
98. Watch a musical
99. Make a bucket list
100. Make a pencil can
101. Play limbo
102. Do a cooking show
103. Look for constellations
104. Learn a new game
105. Create an obstacle course
106. Pick flowers
107. Have shadow fights/dances
108. Watch old cartoons
109. Make a map of the yard
110. Hunt for feathers
111. Recreate famous art
112. Memorize a song
113. Make paper dolls
114. Design clothes
115. Play hot/cold
116. Pick berries
117. Play 20 questions
118. Make a time capsule
119. Read something
120. Make finger paints
121. Play hangman, tic-tac-toe and dots
122. Play shadow puppets
123. Create a game
124. Go for a walk
125. Wash the dog
126. Free-write for 2 pages
127. Write a book
128. Make placemats
129. Act out a story - perhaps a bible story?
130. Make balloon animals - You can buy a pack of balloons at the Dollar Tree for these
131. Have a toy swap
132. Dance
133. Make a card
134. Play outside
135. Plan a party - it's free to plan anyway
136. Make jam
137. Create a secret code
138. Cloud watch
139. Have a recipe swap
140. Fashion accessory exchange
141. Have a living room camp-out
142. Bring your box tv to the lawn and watch a movie outside tonight
143. Try a new food
144. Start a family band
145. Learn a magic trick
156. Have a scavenger hunt
157. Put on a puppet show
158. Plan a theme week
159. Play duck, duck, goose and ring around the rosies, etc.
160. Donate old clothes
161. Make a fruit bowl
162. Look for birds
163. Gather with friends
164. Have each family member act like another family member - could be an eye opener
165. Make a hanging mobile
166. Play fetch with the dog
167. Make a cartoon strip
168. Make an exercise cube
169. Watch a sunset
170. Make some sea glass
171. Do some origami
172. Make abstract art
173. Donate old toys
174. Build a bird's nest
175. Go on a nature walk
176. Find animal tracks
177. Make tin can stilts
178. Build a dam
179. Design a tree house
180. Make bookmarks
181. Find an object made in another country and learn about that country
182. Have a hot wheels race
183. Spend time at a local recreation center
184. Have sack races
185. Play board games
186. Pajama day
187. Make some mad libs
188. Play detective
189. Play charades
190. Climb trees
191. Play hopscotch
192. Write a poem
193. Do a nature scavenger hunt
194. Play "What am I?"
195. Take a hike
196. Go to a local playground
197. Build a house of cards
198. Play frisbee
199. Go to the lake
200. Make s'mores
201. Make playdough
202. Decorate bicycles
203. Make a puzzle
204. Become a pen pal
205. Paint a rock
206. Visit a local park
207. Make bread
208. Blow bubbles
209. Water gun target practice
210. Make cookies
211. Start a nature journal
212. Send a message in a bottle
213. Make bathing suit clad ginger people
214. Build a sand castle
215. Have a weenie roast
216. Make fruit loop necklaces
217. Read a newspaper (or some other article source)
218. Make sock puppets
219. Find something free on Craigslist and give it an overhaul
220. Visit a local library
221. Make "Flat Stanley" and take him with you today wherever you go and write about it
222. Visit a farm
223. Go for a scenic drive
224. Hunt for four leaf clovers
225. Play badminton - birdies and rackets are sold at the Dollar Tree
226. Play flashlight tag
227. Write in the sand
228. Squirt bottle tag
229. Play croquet
230. Have a water gun fight
231. Have an underwater treasure hunt at the local beach
232. Jump rope
233. Go fishing
234. Clean up a park and then celebrate a job well done
235. Go swimming
236. Have a play date
237. Surprise trip
238. Have a barbecue
239. Try some frisbee golf
240. Visit a local cemetery and look up your ancestors
241. Build a faerie house
242. Plant something
243. Play a ball game
244. Print a map of a place you know and let the kids navigate
245. Make rubber band shooters with unsharpened pencils and clothes pins
246. Make a slip 'n slide
247. Go for a drive and try to find all 50 license plates
248. Hula hoop
249. Make a sundial
250. Learn a phrase in another language
251. Sculpt something
252. Camp in the back yard
253. Movie in the park
254. Visit a friend
255. Draw something
256. Learn a hula dance
257. Draw a new cover for a favorite book
258. Visit grandparents
259. Have breakfast for dinner
260. Collect seeds
261. Have a photo shoot
262. Shower in your bathing suits
263. Start a diary
264. Repurpose an old book
265. Have a book exchange
266. Do some potato or apple printing
267. Play "Hedbanz" or Celebrity Head
268. Make a fort
269. Swap bedrooms for the night
270. Make pinwheels
271. Make a mask
272. Make an instrument
273. Make a kite
274. Make a family tree
275. Make a family newspaper
276. Sew something
277. Spin a globe and make a dish native to the country your finger lands on
278. Make a lava lamp
279. Make clay ornaments
280. Make a compass
281. Make magazine holders
282. Have a tea party
283. Make beach globes
284. Make a wind chime
285. Make crayons
286. Make paper bag lanterns
287. Color t-shirts with crayons
288. Mani/pedis
289. Makeovers
290. Make a book nook
291. Make and send a post card
292. Window shop your favorite store
293. Target practice with some popsicle stick bows
294. Make Harry Potter wands and make some mischief
295. Make paper sailor hats and captain a tin foil river boat
296. Dye some noodles to eat or craft with
297. Make some string art
298. Be creative and come up with a craft to go with a favorite book
299. Make an alphabet book
300. Play "telephone"
301. Make a car map for toy cars
302. Make a balance beam
303. Do something nice for someone
304. Make a club
305. Spin dizzy
306. Do some sink or float experiment
307. Look through family photos
308. Have an indoor picnic
309. Watch home movies
310. Make paper bag puppets
311. Have an indoor "snowball" fight with socks
312. Make your own connect-the-dots picture
313. Make some lacing cards
314. DO some noodle art
315. Make crowns and be royalty
316. Have fun with a pillow pile
317. Make some flash cards
318. Plan a vacation, where would you go?
319. Do an exercise video
320. Rearrange the furniture in a room
321. Make a pinata
322. Play doctor and prescribe "medicines"
323. Practice a fire drill
324. Host a family olympics competition
325. Play Leap Frog
326. Make a Lego creation
327. Trace something
328. Make some mud pies
329. Put on a lemonade stand if you can in your area
330. Make a diorama
331. Indoor "outdoor" games (hopscotch, etc)
332. Make a fork or spoon ring
333. Make an All About Me Book
334. Make some yarn dolls
335. Have a backyard carnival
336. Start a memory jar
337. Start a Mommy and Me or Daddy and Me notebook
338. Make a volcano
339. Make chain dolls - or anything for that matter
340. Invent a silly holiday and celebrate it yearly
341. Blow up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda
342. Draw faces on the mirror
343. Melted crayon rock painting
344. Make some fossils
345. Blow some wish flowers
346. Make giant bubbles
347. Paint with marbles
348. Make a raft, does it float?
349. Make a catapult with cardboard, rubber bands and a skewer
350. Play in the rain
351. Try to stack rocks
352. Make some butter
353. Make some sun prints
354. Play with sparklers
355. Make and photograph a detailed time line of one day
356. Make a family crest and manifesto (or motto)
357. Freeze things in ice and then dig to get them out
358. Create a religious altar (if you are religious that is)
359. Make inspiration boards together
360. Find a free event in the paper and go
361. Share stories about the "old days"
362. Design your dream house
363. Storm Watch
364. Take photos using different camera settings
365. Have some fun with cornstarch and water

Not always free, but fun anyways

1. Make popsicle stick bracelets
2. Make pine cone bird feeders
3. Make marshmallow and toothpick sculptures
4. Make lollipops from jolly ranchers
5. Print face shots of family members and cut out small pieces, then guess who it belongs to
6. Make baseball bracelets
7. Make silly putty
8. Buy a "make and take" craft kit from the store
9. Visit the local pool
10. Go to the batting cages
11. Hide small toys for the kids all over the lawn and let them follow colored arrows to find them
12. Make stepping stones
13. Make a clubhouse
14. Bury treasures around the yard and mark them with colored flags, then let the kids loose with trowels
15. Go ice-blocking
16. Have a watermelon
17. Paint and craft with shells
18. Have a balloon fight
19. Bleach some t-shirts
20. Make t-shirt scarfs
21. Have a photo swap
22. Make popsicle stick puzzles
23. Make fireflies from bottles and glow sticks
24. Have a decorated bag swap
25. Make friendship bracelets
26. Have a decorated flip flop swap
27. Make a photo collage
28. Make a doll
29. Go bowling
30. Paint your own dishes
31. Make a photo memory game
32. Visit the dollar store
33. Take photos of letters around town and make name art
34. Go to yard sales
35. Decorate ball caps
36. Decorate flip flops
37. Work on a home-improvement project
38. Go to the ice cream shop
39. Play mini golf with cardboard or spare wood holes and ramps
40. Make a tee-pee
41. Go to a campground for the day
42. Grow some sponge grass
43. Visit an orchard
44. Make some busy bags
45. Have an ice cream party
46. Eat out
47. Visit a museum
48. Tie dye t-shirts
49. Go to the drive-in
50. Pizza party
51. Go to the cinema

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Have a Bonfire

Fire from  Ladies' Retreat, 2012.
     One of my favorite parts of camping is the bonfire.  Camping is not camping without a bonfire.  What I don't like about camping is all the bugs.  I'm not sure if it is the woods or the water that attracts them more, but camp is always full of them.  The front yard however, not so buggy.  So of course we love to have bonfires at home for no real reason.
A fire that was accidentally started when some boxes were thrown into the fire pit a day after the fire was extinguished.  Scary, isn't it?
     When we moved here, there was already half an oil tank that was being used as a fire pit, so we kept it and are using that years later.  It is starting to warp considerably from all of the heat, but that doesn't stop the grass from growing around it.  We like to throw all of our paper trash into it to keep it out of the landfills.  We almost always throw all of the cardboard boxes and such into it to burn next time.  We were a bit surprised when The Man's uncle threw some boxes onto it on Memorial Day while we were outside and it suddenly started smoking.  The fire had been out since the night before, but before we knew it the fire was pretty large.  It's a good thing the kids were not out by themselves at the time.
The Big One sticking her mallow in May 2007.
     Some of our favorite things to do by the fire are of course to roast hot dogs and marsh mallows as well as get toasty warm, but we also have some other things we like to do.  We like to watch how something burns and how it differs from the other things we put in.  We like to see if anything makes the flames burn a different color as some things will do.  We also like to lay things over the fire and make guesses on which side collapses into the pit first (use caution with this one).
The Man's Dad at camp, 2008.
     We have bonfires any time of year if we can.  Of course we prefer them when the ground is not covered in snow.  Are you allowed to have bonfires where you live?  How often do you have them?

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