Monday, July 2, 2012

Six Ways to Take Advantage of the Hot Sunny Days

Been doing a few of these in my house lately, and thought I'd share...

Let's face it - it's ugly hot outside these days.  Use the summer sun and heat to your advantage!

These are all things we do at my house or have done over the years when the teenagers were smaller.  Here's my list - give them a try!

  1. Clean the burners, burner plates and knob of your stove with ammonia.  Simply place them into a large zip top bag with about a cup of ammonia.  Set outside in the sun.  I put mine out early in the morning, and brought them in the next morning.  Rinse well with warm soapy water.  You'd be amazed at how much grease, grime, and other yucky stuff will come off!  Because I actually cook, I've had stuff boil over onto the stove that I thought had actually fused itself into the enamel on my burner plates.  My stove looks like new!  By the way, when you dump out your ammonia, keep it away from tender plants.  I poured mine on the wood mulch in one of our flower beds that seems to attract the neighborhood cats, racoons and possums.  You can also put used paper towels into the liquid in the bag, and throw it away.
  2. Fry an egg.  This is a great one to do with kids.  Prove that it is actually hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement.  All you need is an egg and some nonstick cooking spray.  Wait until about 3 in the afternoon, find a really hot spot on your driveway or sidewalk, and hit it with some cooking spray.  Drop your egg on the hot spot, and watch and wait.  This is a great exercise in scientific observation.  If you really want to get technical, do two eggs - one as a control, and one with a clear glass lid over it (like a greenhouse).  Which one cooks faster?  By the way, don't eat the eggs - just throw them away.
  3. Make sun tea.  Another great science observation project, and this one you can drink.  I have a large, gallon-size jar, and to this jar I add 16 tea bags and one gallon of water.   Place on the porch or patio, and wait for a few hours.   I especially like chai tea, then drink it iced with milk and honey.   One year, I actually made homemade root beer syrup with herbal tea I had made as sun tea.  This is a delicious way to stay hydrated!  
  4. Make sun prints.  You don't even need the expensive paper - just use dark construction paper, like black or blue.  Just a note here - since this is not the fancy photo-sensitive paper, use objects that have simple shapes.  The details won't show up as well, but it's quick, easy and inexpensive.  Simply place your paper in a very sunny area, set an object on your paper, and then wait for about an hour.  Not happy with your results?  Vary the amount of time - another fun science project!
  5. Make a pie plate crayon.  Start with a small aluminum pie pan, add some old crayons, then set them in the hot sun all day.  Allow your crayon to cool, and color to your hearts content.  Feel free to mix and match or sort by color (a great preschooler activity).  If you buy the shaped tins (baking aisle), you can get a head start on Christmas ornaments by inserting a straw near the top of your shape.  Be sure to place the straw far enough down that the crayon won't break if hung on a tree.  You can also do hearts to set away for Valentine's day fun next year, and make stars on the 4th of July.
  6. Stay in and learn some card games.  We all complain that our kids spend way too much time plugged in, and this is a great way to get them unplugged.  Card games teach math and logic skills, such as counting, sequences and strategy.  Card games teach social skills, such as good manners like dealing cards to others before yourself.  Oh yeah, and they're fun.  Crazy Eights and Old Maid are perennial favorites.  Feel free to move up to something simple like UNO for the younger ones, and then work up to rummy-type games, where the players have to make books (all one number) and runs (sequential numbers in one suit).  A favorite in our house is Five Crowns.  It's a rummy-type game with five suits and wild cards that change each round.  Buy it on Amazon.  When teaching a new game to players of all ages, we've found that it's best to play the first few hands/rounds with everyone's cards showing.  Then, Parent/Adult can help.  Also, don't be afraid to play and NOT keep score.  Just play for fun.  You'll make all kinds of fun memories.

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