School’s out for summer, and by now, it might feel like summer is a very, very long time. You’ve taken them to the zoo, the children’s museum, the library… you even labeled that last trip to Target as an educational experience! Kids have an energy supply that’s infinitely greater than our own, but rather than trying to keep up with the rug rats by chugging 12 cups of coffee, why not try out some creative distraction tactics and make a summer camp at home! We have a dozen fresh ideas that will get you and your little one experimenting, creating and building summer memories.

1. Xylem Water Movement Demonstration: A science lesson doesn’t get much prettier. Using dyed water and Napa cabbage or celery, youngsters can see how water travels around the plant through little tubes called xylem. (via Laura Hamilton Flickr)

2. Indoor Fishing: Get those motor skills going! With a handful of simple materials, kids can cut up a lake, build a fishing pole, create a school of fish with pipe cleaners — and start playing. (via Kiwi Crate)

3. Homemade Flour Paint: Yes, of course you can buy paint at the store, but the process of making it is half the fun! Kids love experimenting with colors and textures, and will take pride in masterpieces created with their very own paint. (via Learn, Play, Imagine)

4. Cellophane Stained Glass Window: This cool craft gets big creativity points, and it’s a great way to get them confident using scissors. It makes fantastic wall art (+ a fab present for Grandma). (via Estefi Machado)

5. Hula Hoop Hideouts: Create a cozy mini-clubhouse that can be the new Storytime HQ or a perfect nook for little explorers to chill out and have a snack. (via Alanna George)

6. Mold a Dino Fossil: Making a mold is basically 3D printing 101 and super addictive. It’s a great exercise to get your future paleontologist doing some serious spacial thinking, as you will need to first work on the negative space and then think backwards to make the final product. (via Wired)

7. Summer Reading Log: This lovely printable is a great way to record summer reads. Help your bookworm keep track of daily reading minutes, and he or she will draw a scene from the book and write down what they loved about it. (via Simple as That)

8. Stick-lets ($17): The great outdoors is where most long-lasting childhood memories are made. That’s the driving force behind Stick-lets, ingenious little helpers to create forts, toys, tunnels and whatever your child’s imagination might produce. All you need are sticks and sunshine.

9. Rainbow Soap Foam Bubbles: Great for sensory play and discovery, rainbow foam makes for a great lesson in color… or throw in their toy Tonkas for a multi-color car wash. (via Fun at Home with Kids)

10. Make a Kite: Few things are as universally fascinating as flying a kite in the sky. Skip the store-bought versions and build a lasting kite that your child can add his or her personal touch to. Consider it just another great excuse to get outside and spend an afternoon making memories in the sun! (via Learn, Play, Imagine)

11. Homemade Bird Seed Feeders: These are fun and easy to make. Hang them outside and watch the birds come and go! (via Plain Vanilla Mom)

12. Sidewalk Chalk Art Puddles: Here’s what we’re thinking for a lazy afternoon — get a lemonade stand going, let them splash around in the kiddie pool and kick sidewalk chalk up a notch by adding just one simple thing: water. Shallow puddles on the sidewalk allow for color mixing and create a really cool effect. (via Lemon Lime Adventures)

What are your little campers loving this summer? Share some ideas in the comments!