The six most dreaded words any parent can hear are: “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.” Actually, there’s plenty. Here are a few ideas to get you through summer.
1. Create your own film
Someone’s gotta be the next Taika Waititi or Greta Gerwig. Might as well be you: Grab your smartphone and get filming. If you’re between 11 and 18, you’re eligible to enter the Los Angeles Public Library’s Teens of LA Film Fest. Submissions close June 19, so stop wasting time and get going. (And if you win, remember to thank us in your acceptance speech.)
2. Explore nature
The El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach is a shady plant and animal sanctuary spanning 105 acres. A two-mile dirt trail whisks you away from city sidewalks and around two lakes, a stream and forest areas. Right now the center is open only for self-guided tours, but watch its website throughout the summer. (The center typically offers all sorts of activities.) Parking is limited and costs $5 and up, cash only. Pedestrians and cyclists enter free.
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3. Bugs, bugs and more
Normally, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County would be a great place to spend a summer afternoon and play scientist as you explore bugs and other critters, but who knows when it will reopen. Sigh. The next best thing? Build your own bug house, complete with a roof and a comfy bed, using twigs, leaves, bark and flowers. Place your masterpiece outside — a porch, a windowsill or your backyard — and watch who moves in. The museum offers construction inspiration at nhmlac.org/growing-home. (And watch the website for reopening and activities on the horizon.)
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4. Get crafty
Upcycle your toilet-paper rolls, milk containers, egg cartons and cereal boxes into works of art, mostly by using coloring and painting supplies you probably already have in your home. PBS.org has oodles of crafty ideas for turning everyday objects into puppet theaters, crafty caterpillars, cereal box cityscapes and more. And tell your parents to sign up for their daily e-mail at pbs.org/parents for activities they can do with you this summer.
5. Become a Junior Ranger
Become a National Park protector. Yosemite National Park is expected to reopen in June with a cap on how many people can visit each day. Why not get a jump on prepping for your next trip there by completing the virtual Junior Ranger program from home? “Learn about some of the cultural and natural wonders of Yosemite (and your own home area) and share your art and thoughts with us,” according to the program guide, which is available in English and Spanish.
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6. Go to the beach
Beat the heat with a beachfront scavenger hunt. We love this idea we found at verywellfamily.com for doing just that. Bring a pail, shovel, binoculars, a hat and sunscreen and see how many kinds of shells you can find, birds you can spot, sea creatures you can watch (but not touch) and more. Bonus points for capping off your adventure by writing a poem “about the beauty of the ocean.”
7. Learn new skills
Want to learn how to make your own Lego-inspired movie? Or learn how to tell “fractured fairy tales”? (What if the Big Bad Wolf wasn’t so bad after all?) Or create and program your own video games using platforms like Minecraft? Would you like it even better if all these classes were free? We thought so. Check out virtual classes on varsitytutors.com.
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8. Learn how to cook
Make this the summer you learn how to prepare meals for your family. Start small, with no-cook meals such as PB&J sushi rolls. Then, when you’ve convinced the annoying helicopter parents around you that you’re following basic safety rules, you can graduate to microwave meals such as individual apple crisps or 5-minute mac ‘n’ cheese in a mug. Keep it up, and you’ll be running the stove top — with adult supervision, of course — in no time. (Pro tip: This is a surefire way to get final say on what’s for dinner each night.) You can also check out our new cooking series, How to Boil Water.
9. Look down
If the coronavirus quarantine has taught us anything, it’s that chalk art is a great way to inspire, delight and make someone’s day. So how about getting your street ready for Fourth of July with red, white and blue chalk art made for lie-down-on-the-sidewalk #selfies, and Instagram? Create a neighborhood hashtag, of course. Credit for this genius idea goes to Lauren Gaines, who runs inspired-motherhood.com
10. Go on a library adventure
Take on these library challenges. Check out the Los Angeles County Public Library’s activities pages for kids, tweens, teens and adults: Dream up “Star Wars” crafts, Sudoku puzzles or become a puzzle creator yourself. One we particularly like: A 50-day challenge to explore America. (And maybe plan a road trip or vacation?) Learn how to start a podcast or study screenwriting with legend Joss Whedon. Also, check out Los Angeles city’s library activities calendar. Pick pretty much any day this summer, and you’ll find lots of virtual activities, including crafts, story times, book clubs and science videos as well as free ebooks, audiobooks, comics, magazines, TV shows and movies.
What to do this summer locally and at home