Category Archives: Fun Things

Pinewood Derby – five leSSons learned

five leSSons learned from a pinewOOd derby

five leSSons learned from a pinewOOd derby
5 ounces of fun and fury

(1) – glue is really important.

glue is always important. don’t go to a pinewOOd derby without glue. in fact, don’t leave home without glue. and, if ya live in missouri, take some masking tape, too. just don’t “high-five” your friends with super glue on your hands. don’t ask me how i learned this.

(2) – maybe graphite won’t help you win the race.

having graphite on you wheels sounds really cOOl. but it doesn’t mean you’re gonna win the race. but on second thought. yeah, graphite on your wheels is really important. because it just sounds cOOl. and sounding cOOl can be really important. at the pinewOOd derby. sometimes.

(3) – technology is great. until it isn’t.

technology is not always great. like when the high tech timing machine decides to quit. maybe it’s the software driver or the … ? (and more nerd talk) maybe after two hours of frustrating techno-agony, it’s time to use a pencil and a yellow pad and your eyeballs to time the races. just like your dad used to do.

(4) – weigh matters.

hey, weight does matter. but nothing more than 5 ounces.

and 5 ounces can be powerful. just 5 ounces can win a race. 

(5) – murphy’s law is everywhere 

murphy’s law really is EVERYwhere. murphy’s law does not play favorites. mr. murphy has no mercy. even at a pinewOOd derby.

mr. murphy can invite himself to even the best planned events.

isn’t it is amazing what you can learn at the pinewOOd derby?

five leSSons learned from a pinewOOd derby
having fun at pinewood derby

you can learn a lot at a pinewOOd derby.

(# 6) – a bonus leSSon

you can always have fun with a group of cub scouts.

if ya can’t have fun with cub scouts, then ya need to re-think your life.

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Play Is the Best Learning Tool. EVER.

Play is the BEST learning tool. EVER.

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Every Child Wants to be a SUPER HERO
Play is the ultimate SUPER HERO WEAPON for learning.

Play is the ultimate SUPER HERO WEAPON for learning.

Play is the BEST learning tool for …

… for children of ALL ages – even adults in the workplace.

Look at the recent research on adult play and gamification.

Hey ! Just WATCH your children PLAY ! Play is a child’s work !

This is what the experts say:

  • Play is the NATURAL VEHICLE for learning in children.
  • When children play; they learn social, motor and cognitive skills.
  • When children play, they learn creative solutions.
  • When children are stressed, it is very hard to learn. So let’s play.
  • When the anxiety is gone, learning can happen. 
  • Learning through play is highly effective.
  • Play and games can be a great tool for learning.

Play is the best learning tool …

  • for children,
  • for you and me.

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Play is the BEST learning tool.
Play is the BEST learning tool. EVER.

This information has been confirmed after a 30 year study

  • Watch children play.
  • They celebrate every win as if it is an EPIC WIN.
  • And play is even more fun when adults do NOT interfere and
  • DO NOT keep score of their mistakes.

Watch children playing MineCraft. A recent independent study confirmed that children love the CREATIVE PLAY of MineCraft with NO ADULT INTERFERENCE

Watch children of ALL ages …

… when they are practicing their newest skateboard move. They do it again and again AND AGAIN until they get it right. Then – after a little success – comes the EPIC – CELEBRATION – DANCE.

A-r-r-r-gh !! Celebrate every victory. Like a pirate.

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Celebrate EVERY victory. Like a pirate.
Celebrate EVERY victory. Like a pirate.

Watch children practice any game – basketball, soccer, a video game – they play until they “get it right.”

Children DO NOT QUIT when learning is a game.

Play is the work of childhood.

Children play until they succeed. Children do NOT watch the clock when they are playing.

How many times have you asked your child to stop playing a video game — after 2 hours of non-stop play ?

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don’t EVER miss any cool stuff again

yikes 150 x 150

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But mom. I just started. 

And they tell you, “But mom, I just started.” After 2 hours of playing !!! Children are unaware of time when they are playing and having fun.

Play is the best learning tool. EVER. 

And celebration is a part of that play. It’s a healthy expression of fun. Here’s a great FAN CELEBRATION DANCE. Watch it and enjoy the next 2 minutes!

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Why NOT intentionally create a learning environment that uses play and victory dances that CELEBRATE EPIC WINS ?

Why not have a great Celebration Dance after studying spelling and math and social studies ?

We celebrate every day after school.

Read how we study like a Jedi Rebel to learn more.

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Celebrate EVERY victory.
Celebrate EVERY victory. Why not ? We do. 

Daniel, age 5, and Lucas, age 9, read and do homework in the SAME PLACE and at the SAME TIME every day.

We celebrate almost every success; and at the end of the study session, Lucas, the older brother, teaches Daniel how to read in a special big-brother mentoring time. Both boys win during this time.

Then we celebrate with high fives ! And epic dances with our most creative and energized moves ! Why not ?

The result: Daniel learns how to read. And Lucas learns some patience AND learns how to teach a valuable skill. What a joy ! What a DOUBLE EPIC WIN !

An EPIC win that will have positive results the rest of their lives. 

This daily study event takes some planning and is an intentional planned event focused on creating successes and celebration dances.

So if play is a great learning tool …

… and celebration is part of that play, why not use these tools intentionally ?

Why not plan “play” and “celebration” into every learning event ?

Why not have a victory dance or a celebration routine planned and intentional ? And why not use celebration frequently to enjoy the wins ?

And make every win an EPIC WIN. As a parent, you get to choose.

You say this takes too much time …

… and does not fit into your mindset of being a productive and efficient adult role model.

Let me ask you, Is what you’re doing now working for your children ?”

Are they enjoying learning or just getting their homework done ?

Well, then. It’s time for a change.

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Choose to change. And your children will follow.
change and they will foLLow. but you MUST CHooSE to change

This works for us. Yes, celebration takes time, but the learning curve is ALWAYS SHORTENED for us because we have fun and we celebrate.

I challenge you to make some intentional changes in your homework routine. If you need some ideas, look here for some ideas — Revenge of the Jedi Rebel.

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Celebrate EPIC WINS

Celebrating EPIC WINS is a great learning tool.

Do you remember your school day ?

Do you remember those days when you brought home a paper with a score of 97 %. That’s 97 correct answers out of 100 possible questions. I remember.

I remember. I arrived at home PROUD and EMPOWERED and feeling like a SUPER HERO. With a 97 % . An EPIC WIN until…

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Focus on his wins. Not his wrong answers.
Focus on his wins. Not his wrong answers.

… the adult in charge IMMEDIATELY looked at the 3 RED X MARKS and commented, “Why did you miss these 3 ? I know you know the answer to these 3 questions.”

You studied hard, and you had an EPIC WIN; but where is the joy and the fun and the celebration now ?

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Don’t Ruin an Epic Win

Celebrate EVERY victory.
Celebrate E-V-E-R-Y victory

An EPIC WIN becomes an Epic Failure; because you are reminded that you missed 3 questions.

And all you heard in your mind was, “You’re NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You still missed 3 questions.” And you forget that you did get 97 right.

And the adult in charge (dad | mom) just turned a MAJOR WIN into a reminder that you are NEVER GOOD ENOUGH.

And your young child gets to hear that negative message in their mind the rest of their life – no exaggeration ! Read the research.

I hope you’re NOT doing the same thing with your children.

Instead celebrate EVERY EVENT

…with a hashtag selfie. Why not ?

Tweet your wins. Facebook your wins with selfies. And, to your child, make every WIN an EPIC WIN.

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Celebrate with a HASHTAG SELFIE.
Celebrate with a HASHTAG SELFIE. Make EVERY win an EPIC WIN. 

You get to choose – to celebrate.

Celebrate the wins. ALL of the wins.

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As a parent, you now get to CHOOSE TO CHANGE the homework routine for your children – INTENTIONALLY and with a CLEAR PURPOSE.

You get to break the cycle of negativity.

Every kid wants to be a SUPER HERO  – at least for a moment.


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Children of ALL ages love to celebrate.
Children of ALL ages love to celebrate. 

And then CELEBRATE some more.

Even big kids like to  wear super hero capes and celebrate.

Next time I’ll tell you about our M&M routine of celebrating.

It works. It really does.

M&M Learning is Kid-Tested and Grandpa-Approved.

It doesn’t get any better than celebrating with M&Ms. 

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I dare you to…

I dare you to make learning fun.
I dare you to make learning fun. 

It works. It really does.

  • Celebrate your wins. With your children.
  • And then try some Celebration Dances with your team at work.
  • Why not ? Share the fun.

After all, play IS the best learning tool. 

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Have a meSSy Christmas. Just say NO to Pinterest-Perfect.

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Be moMMie meSSy. Not Pinterest-Perfect. Just say NO.

Just say NO …

… to holiday craZZineSS.

Be moMMie meSSy. Not Pinterest-Perfect. Just say NO.

Just say “no” to holiday craZZineSS.

The holiday season can bring out the BEST in us. AND the craZZiest in us. We experience the BEST by watching how we care for the homeless during the holiday season. With meals and gifts.

And we see the worst and the craZZiest in the Black Friday subhuman behavior.  Black Friday, you know, that American tradition which reveals the dark retail underbelly of American greed and excess.

Just search YouTube for the latest WalMart Black Friday video. Click here.

I just have four things to say about the holiday craZZineSS.

  1. It’s not your fault.

  2. Be lazy. Be smart. Buy online.

  3. Say “no” to Pinterest-Perfect cOOkies.

  4. Say “yes” to a meSSy Christmas Tree.

Have a meSSy Christmas. Just say NO to Pinterest-Perfect.
Have a meSSy Christmas. Just say NO to Pinterest-Perfect.

1.) It’s not your fault.

We just mentioned the craZZineSS of Black Friday at WalMart.

Let’s refocus now. Not on WalMart. Let’s get personal.

i cancelled black friday
Cancel Black Friday at Wal-Mart 

Let’s talk about YOUR family.

How much of your holiday craZZiest is self-induced craZZiest ?

The answer is simple – ALL OF IT. You are responsible for ALL of your holiday craziest.

But just like in the movie, Good Will Hunting, where Robin Williams keeps saying to Will, “It’s not your fault. It’s NOT your fault. It’s NOT YOUR FAULT.” [link to video clip]

It’s NOT REALLY YOUR FAULT. It’s my fault. Blame it on me – the baby boomer who raised you. Yes. This is one you CAN BLAME on your parents.

But, now, you get to change the madneSS.

Just say “no” to the holiday madness. Just say “no” to the traditions that don’t work for your family. Including your crazy busy schedule. And your demanding expectations of the holiday season.

2.) Be lazy. Be Online-Smart.

Grandpa says, "It's OK. You're worth it."
“You’re worth it.”

By now, I hope that you have already replaced Black Friday with Couch Comfortable Amazon Prime.

Just say “no.” Just say, “If I can’t buy it online and have it delivered for FREE, I will not buy it.”

It’s a simple and easy decision.

There is nothing that a retail store has. That I want so much that I am willing to sacrifice my sanity to drive, park, shop, fight, stand in line, and buy at a retail location. And risk my life driving in Orlando / Chicago / Springfield traffic. I will not trade my sanity for a gift.

This shopping obsession is the civilian equivalent of self-induced retail PTSD. 

Just say “no” to retail madneSS. Case in point. Yesterday, I had razor blades delivered to my residence via Amazon. Ah-h-h, Amazon Prime – God’s gift to the lazy, the smart, and the tired (wise) elderly generation with our canes and walkers.

You can do this, too. Embrqce the techno tool specially designed for the meSSy moMMies. Those Online-Smart moMMies.

You, too, could be Amazon-Lazy. And Online-Smart.

Be moMMie meSSy (more about moMMie meSSy later) AND moMMie smART. Shop Amazon and let the elves at Amazon do the driving.

Just say NO to …

3.) NO to Pinterest-Perfect anything.

Be moMMie meSSy. Not Pinterest-Perfect.

You know those PERFECT cookies shaped like Santa Claus with embedded computer chips that sing Jingle Bells when you eat them. Just say “no.”

Because the Pinterest-Perfect moMMie that designed and created those cookies DOES NOT REALLY EXIST. At least, not on this globe. No mom working outside the home and raising children does things Pinterest-Perfect and lives to tell about it.

Forget the Pinterest-Perfect anything.

Settle for the moMMie meSSy version. And less streSS. The same applies to the annual cOOkie exchange that your mother taught you.

Forget that cOOkie exchange.

It’s not your fault.

You get to change. Not exchange.

I’m giving you permission to abandon some of the time-intensive madneSS. Instead. Create some rOOm.

Leave a hole in your schedule so you can relax.

Read a book after the children are in bed. Drop that annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. Just say “no.” Don’t bake cookies.

4.) Say “yes” to a meSSy Christmas.

Create your own traditions. Get your own tree. Make a WHOLE DAY

It's a family thing - cutting the tree down in the forest
It’s a family thing

of tree cutting. And get the imperfect tree.

Settle for imperfect decorations thrown on the tree by your 3-year-old — having fun. And do not try to decorate your Christmas Tree using the perfect picture saved to your phone.

That perfectly decorated tree was designed by a full time Christmas Tree Decorator. The picture was taken by a professional photographer. And then the picture was photo shopped to perfection. And (if there is no mess) no children were involved.

Lose the streSS. Make a meSS.

Just say “no.” And decorate like the Simpsons not Ozzie and Harriet.

Have a meSSy Christmas. Just say NO to Pinterest-Perfect.
Have a meSSy Christmas. Just say NO to Pinterest-Perfect.

Lose the streSS. Make a meSS.

Create a ginger bread house from a kit that you bought on Amazon. Click here to get a gingerbread house from Amazon.

And let your children build an imperfect ginger bread house like “The House That Jack Built.”

Say “no” to Christmas madneSS.

  • Shop online. Be an Amazon-Smart moMMie.
  • Say “no” to Pinterest-Perfect cOOkies.
  • And say “yes” to your first REAL meSSy Christmas.

Grandpa says, “It’s OK.”

we cancelled the excessive spending
just say NO to Christmas craZZineSS – more meSS and less streSS

More meSS. Less streSS. 


You are worth it.

3 Ways to Fail at Homework with a Six-Year-Old

3 Ways to Fail at Homework with a Six-Year-Old

I did it. I failed miserably. I was trying to do homework with my six-year-old grandson, Daniel. And I failed miserably in three different ways.

… and I did it all in one aftern00n.

It felt  like a major setback this week. Doing homework with my grandson, Daniel.

So much progress made this year motivating Daniel. And then an EPIC FAIL in one aftern00n.

I dare you to make learning fun.
“I dare you to make learning fun.” – Lucas, one of Daniel’s older brothers

Thursday after school didn’t go well.

It didn’t go well at all. Daniel just decided to assert himself – more than usual. Our homework session started OK. Then Daniel just said “no.”

  • “No. I don’t like math.”
  • “No. I don’t want any help.”
  • “No. I don’t want to do homework.”
  • Just “no.” “No.” And another “NO” for good measure.

And internally I just crashed.

It was already an emotionally charged week for me working with Daniel. Daniel was in a no-no-no mode” this week. My aged brains cells raced with frustration and questions.

  • Doesn’t he understand how valuable MY time is?
  • Doesn’t Daniel understand how IMPORTANT education is?
  • Doesn’t he appreciate ALL OF THE WORK I have done to create a friendly learning environment?

Internally, I crashed and was CRUSHED when Daniel kept saying “no.” I thought I had created the ideal learning environment. I knew I had failed this aftern00n. And I had finally met my match in self-will and stubbornness.

Hey, I’m dealing with a six-year-old who would rather watch video games (you know, Minecraft) than spell words and do math. And compared to Minecraft, all this education stuff means nothing to him.

daniel with 3 letter words
“No. I don’t want to do homework.” – Daniel

No amount of M&M’s (candy bribery) or …

… false encouragement and excitement about education would change Daniel’s mind.

Well, the next day, Friday morning, I was trying to understand where I had failed.

Where did I FAIL ?

Here is the 3-point assessment of my faulty (MBA) thinking.

Every Child Wants an EPIC WIN
Daniel’s brain cells were saying, “Enough is enough.”

My first FAILure was …

… the obvious – thinking about me and that I had failed. I had provided the right environment and the right processes. But Daniel had a tough week and had reached an invisible emotional peak (or valley). He had reached some sort of educational saturation point.

Daniel’s brain cells were saying,  “Enough is enough.”

Daniel is six years old.

Every Child Wants to be a SUPER HERO
“Play is the ultimate SUPER HERO learning tool.” – Captain Daniel America

And I’m, well … real old. Daniel had reached the six-year-old limit for doing homework on a routine. He had reached the six-year-old maximum number of days in row for doing homework on time.

  • That’s all.
  • Simple.
  • And out of MY control.
  • This was all about Daniel. And HIS limits.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not listed in some education manual that I could predict. Daniel’s maximum limit did not fit into my linear way of thinking.

Second FAILure …

My expectations were t00 high.

  • It was like pushing a string.
  • Like stopping the wind.
  • Like trying to put t00thpaste back into the tube.

No amount of “grandpa super powers” would work.

My expectations of my perfect plan combined with intellectual super powers were unrealistic.

Crazy thinking on my part. To try to compete with a six-year-old’s thinking. 

My unrealistic expectations were MY RECIPE FOR FAILURE. Or a recipe for feeling like I had failed.

“A six-year-old’s super powers for resisting homework will always trump this old man’s thinking about what’s gonna work for Captain Daniel America.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

Third FAILure …

… WAS keeping score. Trying to think in terms of black and white. Wins and losses. Thinking that when Daniel gets to win, then grandpa must loose. I forgot that …

I forgot. The goal is to help Daniel to enjoy learning. Not just complete another math problem.

Teach the way he learns - Daniel
Daniel and his learning maZe crEation – complete with a Lava Lake and a Kangaroo Wave Park


“If Daniel doesn’t learn the way I am teaching, then maybe I should teach the way Daniel learns.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

If Daniel doesn’t learn the way I am teaching, then maybe I should teach the way Daniel learns. (Simple. Profound and true.)

Try some new things.

  • Teaching on the computer, the iPad?
  • Taking our homework class to Panera Bread and mix in some double chocolate brownies with math?
  • Or (for a six-year-old) just SKIP HOMEWORK one night? WOWzer !!
  • Or do homework AFTER SUPPER instead of ALWAYS BEFORE supper?
Teach them the way they learn - America's GRUMPiest Grandpa
“Teach them the same way they learn.” – America’s GRUMPiest Grandpa

I need to remember the goal is to sell the learning process – not just to do one more math problem.

The end result …

… of Thursday evening was: Daniel did finish his math and spelling – peacefully – with his mom AFTER SUPPER. With no drama.

And then Daniel happily showed me his completed homework.

Ya gotta admit it.

Moms and six-year-olds are so smart.

Mission accomplished. 

moms and six-year-olds are so SMART
MOMS and six-year-olds are so SMART – Daniel and Libby

5 Fun Things for Your Kids to Do This Summer – for less than your last trip to Disney World

Fun Things for Your Kids to Do This Summer …

… or anytime.

fun things to do with your kids
Let’s have some fun. Create some memories. Do some reaLLy cool things this summer.

Create some cool memories. 

Let’s have some fun and do some reaLLy cool stuff this summer.

Or anytime. Why wait til summer to do fun stuFF ?

1.) – Build with MarshmaLLows …

… and t00thpicks.

Yes, I know we’ve already talked about this last week. But Lucas wanted to show you pictures of his creations.

fun things for kids to do
Hey ! Be nice.  It’s a WORK IN PROGRESS. That’s the fun. It’s NEVER finished.

Just marshmaLLows and t00thpicks …

… and skewers and stirrers and Gummy Bears and some Legos for effect.

And the Finished MarshmaLLow and GuMMy Bear Tent Circus …

fun things for kids to do
Over 32 triangles made of marshmallows and t00thpicks and BBQ skewers

If you use your imagination, you can see the Lion Cages and the Trapeze Artists. And when you listen closely, you can even hear the Carnival Barker. 

Yes, you do need to buy some extra marshmallows to feed the animals – the home crowd – brothers and sisters – watching and “helping.” We were loosing some marshmallows – to a younger brother, an older brother and mom.

Here’s a secret grandpa tip about working with marshmallows. Open the bag and let the marshmallows dry a little.

When the marshmallows are fresh, they’re a little sticky and messy hard to work with.

Another grandpa tip: Remember to eat ALL of your mistakes.

2.) – Create a Super Hero Lego Village.

And take some pictures.

It’s as simple as it sounds. Use some Lego characters and random toys from the house. Get creative and take some pics with your phone to create Lego scenes.

fun things for kids
Really ! Legos ARE fun for EVERYone.

This is a great time to teach your kids how to use an image editing app. Use Snapseed. It’s FREE and easy to use. FREE for iPhone and android.

3.) – Take a Trip to the Dollar Store …

… and spend $10.00 or less.

Make this trip your IMAGINeering time.

fun things for kids to do
Disney Imagineering – create the never before imagined.

And become a Disney Imagineer.

Use your imagination and ask yourself how you are going to use what you buy. Don’t be so structured and dependent on some website or pre-packaged kit to give you directions on how to build and what to do.

Just buy some cheap stuff and get creative with …

  • sidewalk chalk, and
  • (draw outlines of bodies like a crime scene and let your neighbors wonder what happened last night)
  • play dough, and
  • paint, and
  • n00dles, and
  • … ???
fun things for kids to do
Wow ! Super fun in the backyard with n00dles from the Dollar Store

Check out these 29 Dollar Store Ideas at 29 Dollar Store Ideas – thanks to my PINTEREST-ing daughter, Lindsay (at Pinterest).

Here’s a Grandpa Challenge.

Go to the Dollar Store and become “Disney IMAGINeers” and create the “never before imagined” in …

  • in your minds,
  • in your bathtub,
  • in your kitchen, and
  • in your backyard.

4.) – Fly Paper Airplanes

Easy peasy. Buy a Paper Airplane Book kit from Amazon right here.

Or just find a quality website – like Fun Paper Airplanes – and use your printer.

Tell grandpa which method you liked the best (in the comments below.)

fun things for kids to do
Paper airplanes are AMAZING.

Lucas and I found this website – Fun Paper Airplanes. We downloaded the FREE paper airplane designs and became instant experts.

Lucas liked this website because the folding directions were very clear and visual.

I liked it because it was divided by different skill levels.

From easy to medium to hard. To novelty paper airplanes.

We haven’t tried the novelty airplanes yet. We are very happy building the easy and medium skill designs.

5.) – Go on a Kayak Adventure

fun things for kids to do
It’s GREAT to have a COOL UNCLE for kayaking.

… and discover a new island.

For the kayak cruise, you will need some time AND some money, but it still costs less than your last trip to Disney World.

Watch the video of Drew’s and Levi’s kayak adventure.

What a fun day in the sun and on the water !!!

And it helps if you’re athletic or have a cool athletic uncle. Or aunt.

And take some pictures of these great memories.

Remember no one gives you a grade on these adventures.

Just do it.

And Create a Memory.

Because NO ONE  – EVEREVER reminisces about the Friday that they worked late.

because no one ever reminisces about the Friday that they worked late
… because no one ever reminisces about the Friday that they worked late

But every kid remembers kayaking with their cool uncle.

And every kid remembers the TIME you spent with them.

Just do it. Create a memory. 

fun things for kids to do
Tell us which project you did and HOW you did it. We want to know …

In the comments below, tell us about one cool thing you did / or are planning to do this summer.