Ten Kid-Friendly Things to do on the Longest Day of the Year

Today, in the Northern Hemisphere, we'll have about 30 hours of daylight, making it the longest day of the year.  What are you going to do with it?  Here are ten things you can do to make today special.

1.  Take a photo of your shadow at noon.  Save it.  OK, you'll automatically save it but remember that you took it.  Take another at the same time and the same place, or at least in the same hemisphere, on December 21, the Winter Solstice.  Then you can have a picture like this and say, oh, look at that.  I did that.  Cool.

2.  Connect with ancient peoples and dye something.  Natural dyes have been used back in early Mesopotamia.  What we consider as classic American tie-dye is more of a 1950's thing.  What can you dye?  How about a shirt with mystery stains on it?  Or perhaps a towel, canvas shoes, a plain tote bag, cotton sheets-- I went for sleep shirts/bathing suit cover-ups for my kids.  This is what I used.:
  • XXL white cotton t-shirts
  • red Kool-Aid
  • vinegar
  • salt
  • RIT liquid dye
  • rubber bands
  • ziploc bags
  • squeeze bottles
  • my microwave
  • the sun
  • my washer
  • my dryer

The red Kool-Aid will give the white a pale pink wash.  After all the dye was squirted out and the shirts twisted and rubber banded, bag them until the next day.  Then I suggest microwaving them one at a time for 30 seconds.  Then I unravel and let the sun air dry them.  Then I rinse and wash and dry.  That's how I roll. Have fun.  Make a mess.  There is no wrong way to do this.  In the end you will have a shirt with a lot of colors on it.  And you and yours will have made it all on your own.  And that's cool enough. 

3.  Make a frozen treat that is, here's the catch--reasonably healthy.  Take kiwifruit. Please. It's one of those super foods you're probably not eating.  It's full of omega -3 fatty acid, vitamin C, E, and K, plus some fiber and other good-for-you things.  Mix it with the "it's healthy in small doses" dark chocolate and you've got a sneakily healthy frozen snack.  Here's the incredibly easy recipe

4.  Plant something.   Anything.  You don't even have to go and buy something to plant. There's an excellent chance you have maple seedlings on or near your property.  Pull one out and find a place where it can grow 60-80 feet.  You'll be climbing in it before you know it.  And if you're kid-centric in your home activities as I am, my kids are all sorts of attentive over the trees/flowers they have personally planted.

The ones on the left are what
I have all over my yard.
The examples to the right 
should help you identify what's in your yard.

5.  Pick a series of books and start at the very beginning. Then spend the summer reading the series all the way through.  You can do the same with collected works.  One summer I read all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries.  When you read a series in a row you notice things, subtle changes, themes.  If you do choose Sherlock be sure and then commit to the movies and the TV shows so you can compare/contrast/complain/enjoy.  
Other than Sherlock Holmes?  Shakespeare's comedies, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings (if you're really committed start with The Hobbit and include The Silmarillion).  Pick up Rules of Prey by John Sandford, which came out in 1989.  Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi series (she's almost up to Z), or choose a few pieces of classic lit that you just never got around to but should've read such as The Great Gatsby or  Gulliver's Travels.   Annoy your HBO-watching friends and begin George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Fire and Ice.  The first book is A Game of Thrones.  Yeah, that Game of Thrones.  Now you'll be prepared next time there's any sort of celebration on the show.  Those never end well.  

6.  Try a food you've never tried before.  Scrapple,  jellied cow's foot, pig brains, mountain oysters, 
haggis anyone, anyone?

Well, on second thought, maybe you have to be raised eating haggis to truly appreciate it.  How about  really expanding your palate and try non-fried seafood, or a taco (for some, a taco is exotic)? What's the worst thing that could happen?  You spit it out, you have a funny story to tell about that time you tried..., you like it, you'll always remember that you discovered your love of whatever on the longest day of the year.  

7.  Learn a bird song.  Just one.  I guarantee there are birds where you are.  If you can't identify a single one immediately look it up.   Personally, my favorite song comes from the mockingbird.  It mocks you know.  And I have always been more of a mocker than a rocker.  Here's an example.

This poster sums up what's around me.  I can ID them all, but not by song.  Why bother?  I like knowing what's going on in my world.

8.  Test all your fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms and replace the batteries if needed.  If you don't have such alarms, get them.  Right now.  I'll wait.  

9.  Unplug for an hour.  Yeah, an entire hour.  No TV, no computer (wait until you finish reading this of course), no phone.  Shut it all down and walk away, notice I said walk.   Studies show that just sitting, even if you're working, is taking years off your life.  Yes, I said years.  

10.  Be outside when the fireflies start to rise.  It's the longest day of the year, it'll be worth it.  The further away from a city you can get for this the better.  If you have plenty in your yard you can even get your yard certified by the National Wildlife Federation.  Fireflies can put on quite a show.  They talk to each other with their lights.  Even their eggs can glow.   And they're one of the few members of the insect world that do not freak my kids out.  
There ya go.  Ten things to do today.  The longest day of the year.  Let me know if you got to any of them.  Now who has two thumbs and is unplugging her computer?  This girl!