3 Cool Adventures at Home for the Dog Days of Summer

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This photo shows how children propped cushions on a sofa and draped towels over them to make a tent in their living room.
Living room forts and tents are summer fun that will keep you cool and under quarantine. Photo: Allison Winter

We’re in the dog days of summer. It’s hot, so very hot. Our kids have been home since … forever. Sometimes we need to shake up the routine but still stay close to home.

So here are three cool summer adventures at home that will help you beat the heat! With a little planning and effort, we can have some special quarantine-friendly summer fun without leaving the four walls of our house.

Beat the heat with indoor camping

The summer family camping trip is a classic. But what if you you don’t have a tent or don’t like to camp? What if it is just too dang hot to sleep outdoors? No fear. You can still have a sweet campout with these summer adventures at home. Build a sofa fort in your house with blankets and couch cushions. Or make a tent by draping sheets over your dining room table. (I practically lived in one of these table tents one summer of my own childhood.) Roast marshmallows over a candle! If you want to get crafty, you can make a no-flame campfire out of toilet paper tubes and tissue paper and sing campfire songs or tell stories.

An at-home summer splash park

DC has no shortage of splash pads and waterparks (just check out our ultimate spray, splash, and waterpark guide). But on those days when you can’t make it off your street, you can still have some summer water fun at home. Get a sprinkler, hose, watering cans, water guns, or buckets of water, and get creative. My sons and our neighbors delighted in a few hose-fights last summer. They stood on the sidewalk with garden hoses and sprayed each other. They laughed so much, I almost did not miss the pool (almost). And the water pressure of the hose was great at enforcing social distancing, without me saying anything. Or you can create a “bucket of doom” challenge: fill a bucket with ice and water and challenge your children to see how long they can stand in it. The novelty of cold toes on summer’s hottest days! They’ll howl with laughter.

Transform a Bedroom into an Art Museum

The National Gallery of Art is open again, and you do not need to get a timed pass in advance to visit. But if you are not yet comfortable taking your children, you can still visit the museum with these summer adventures at home. Take a virtual tour of new exhibits. Or examine individual works of art by zooming in closely on a painting—so closely that you can see the artist’s brushstrokes! And a museum guard won’t ask you to back up! Elevate  screen time with high culture! Or check out these lessons and activities and encourage your kids to make their own art and create a gallery at home.

For even more summer fun at home, check out our list of 101 screen-free indoor & outdoor activities for kids.

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