Renting a Vacation Home – The Reasons & the Risks

Have you considered renting a vacation home instead of staying in a hotel for your next vacation? In many cases, a rental home can bring many added benefits to your vacation experience that a hotel room may not. Whether your style is a rustic cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains or a cottage overlooking the Pacific Ocean, here are the advantages (and the potential risks) of renting a home away from home.

A House or a Room?

Sometimes it’s nice to be pampered in a hotel. When someone else is responsible for cleaning and laundry it really starts to feel like a vacation. But the fact is a full week spent in the nicest hotel can feel a little claustrophobic.

When you’re traveling with the whole family, a vacation home can have many advantages over a cramped hotel room. When you’re looking for a vacation home, don’t forget to take the layout of the house into account. Younger children may need to be close to adults, whereas teenagers may enjoy their own floor or sleeping loft. It pays to take the time to find a house that fits your specific needs.

Ask a Lot of Questions!

To increase the chances of having a great vacation ask LOTS of questions. Ask the owner to describe the   swimming  area that they’ve said “is so beautiful”. Ask exactly what cooking supplies will be provided in the home. Will there be internet access, cable TV and a DVD player to use? Will you be expected to bring your own sheets and towels? Make a list of all your questions and make sure they are fully answered before committing to the rental.

My family just rented a beautiful cottage in the Smoky Mountains. Having a large space that the entire family could stay really made the trip something special. However, we certainly recognized the importance of asking the right questions after the first night. The “plush sleeping arrangements” they described included a sleeper couch, which they noted when we signed the rental agreement. But, the couch was so uncomfortable that we ended up taking the mattress off the frame and sleeping on the floor. Take detailed notes, including the date of conversations and the name of the sales representative you’ve spoken with, in order help protect yourself in the event of a dispute.

Remember that you are renting someone’s home. That means that the owner may innocently romanticize little quirks that you may find less than ideal. Similarly, the home might not live up to your expectations. Rather than making assumptions when looking at photos of the home online, do your research.

Relax. Enjoy.

Owners of vacation rental properties will be seeking repeat customers, meaning they will most likely provide you with a clean and comfortable stay. So once you arrive, just relax! This is a home meant for activity, family and fun. Kick back on the sofa, rustle around in the kitchen and play board games at the

dining room table. With a little preparation renting a vacation home could become a highlight of one of your most memorable family trips.

Fun Activities Help Create Family Camping Memories

Camping with your family provides a wide array of possibilities for enjoyment. From the basic activities that include swimming and hiking to more inventive activities such as story telling and cloud watching, there are activities for all ages. Since camping is a great way to relax your mind and ease out of the demands of your daily life, activities should be a combination of structured and spontaneous, not another something you need to do.

Each member of your family should come up with some activities they would like to do while camping. These ideas need to have some preparation when you pack so bikes, radios, backpacks, books, games, swimsuits. etc. are included. These structured activities should only consume part of your trip.

Staying busy does not have to mean filling up every hour with structured activities. Camping needs to include downtime for everyone and that, in and of itself, creates spontaneity. Have some thought put into this type of time so when the time is right your family can enjoy activities they have not thought of or done before. This is what creates memories.

Structured activities may include:

Swimming – No matter where you are camping you are bound to have a lake, a brook, or pool close to you. Swimming is great exercise and lot of fun for all ages. Send your kids off to swim their lungs out in these and explore the bounties of nature for themselves. If you are camping in a commercial campsite you might even be lucky enough to find a pool for your kids to go swimming in. But whether it is a natural or a man-made lake, as long as it is all right for your children to swim in them you know that they’ll stay occupied.

Biking – Camping is all about discovering nature and engaging in physical activities, and what better way of combining both than going out biking? When cycling around with your children make sure you have a map and a first aid box close at hand, so that you don’t continue to worry about getting lost or ending up hurt and can instead concentrate fully on the breathtaking view alone.

Hiking – You do not need to be a serious hiker to enjoy walking through nature’s beautiful display, wherever you are camping. Bring a map of the area and take your family on a hiking trip they will remember.

Build a campfire – Camping is not camping without a campfire. Although fire can be a danger, with attention to the fire and supervision of the kids the entire family can sit around the campfire and be memorized by the flames. Allow your kids to find twigs (on the ground, never cut them off a tree) and throw them into the fire. Once you build the campfire enjoy its warmth, roast marshmallows and hotdogs, and enjoy how the dancing flames bring your family together.

Crafts – Bring items from home or have the kids find what they need to create crafts from nature. Gather twigs to build a castle or a fort, find rocks to paint to create rock pets, or bring glue and scissors and let your kids create what they can imagine.

Toys and balls – Bring items that will keep the family entertained in case of inclement weather and ones that will be enjoyed outside. A baseball and gloves, football, or frisbie can be tossed for hours between members of your family. Bring age appropriate toys that can take on a new dimension at the campsite such as a small truck. There will be hours of enjoyment and imagination as your kids (big and small, and Dad) transform dirt into a construction site or trails.

Dice – These five small, square, and numbered cubes can turn rainy days into many fun activities inside. Don’t loose track of how these cubes can also be used outside on the picnic table or choosing who does what to play a game, clean up in the evenings, or pack up to go home.

Fishing – Kids under the age of 12 usually do not need a license (ensure you and everyone fishing have the correct license for the State you are camping in). This is a great activity if you are near a river, lake or pond. Bring the poles and teach your children how to fish. There can be contests with prizes for the first fish caught, the smallest fish, the most fish caught, and of course, the biggest fish.

Learn a little – Do a little research on the area you will be camping before you leave. Without it coming off as a ‘lesson’ or ‘school’ find the historical sites or talk about what the Explorers of the past went through as they paved their way across the area. You can also learn about plants, birds, and animals that are native to the area.

Creative Spontaneous Activities

Take a late night walk – The best time of the day is the night. Kids are usually in bed so make a late night walk a special activity for the family. Check out the stars, listen to the silence, smell the fresh country air. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Scavenger hunt – Provide a list of items such as plants, leaves, or animal tracks that you might see to each family member. Go on a nature hike and have everyone check off everything they see. A planned scavenger can be done, also. Bring items from home and place them around the campsite. Provide a few riddles and clues and see how many they can find. Be cautious of plants such as poison ivy, oak, sumac etc.

Storytelling – Tell stories about when you were growing up. Kids young and old like to hear ‘when you were young’ stories of your camping or outdoor adventures. Once the stories start everyone will join in to tell about their memories. Another way to tell stories is to start one and let all members of your family add to it and see where the story goes.

Watch clouds – As you are sitting around in your campsite watch the sky and find the characters in the clouds. Better yet put a blanket on the ground and lay on your back to find your shapes and see if you can see what others in your family see.

Climbing – Kids love to climb. Find a hill or some rocks along the shoreline that they can play on. Let their imaginations take over for hours of fun.

Skip rocks – Scour the shores of the lake to find flat rocks and see who can skip their rock the most times. This activity will be enjoyed by the entire family since even the young members can try skipping rocks.

Journaling – Pack a blank journal to use when you feel something happened that needs to be documented. Provide every family member with paper to do this and have them read their entries over dinner or while sitting around your campfire.

Sing songs – If your family is so inclined, singing traditional campfire songs can be a lot of fun. You can also photocopy the insides of everyone’s favorite CD and sing the lyrics to some of their favorite songs.

Camping with family does need to include activities. It may sound very relaxing to sit around the campfire all day, but your kids will need to keep busy. Use these suggestions to help create an enjoyable family camping trip that will generate wonderful memories. One successful camping trip will lead to man, many others. Camping is a great family experience. Go and have fun.

Experience For Yourself The Joy of Snorkeling

As a pastime, snorkeling is becoming a more popular way for people to spend their free time. Every year, more people than ever before are discovering the joy of taking part in one of the best and most breathtaking hobbies out there. Plus, it is not just adults who are seeing the benefits of snorkeling but children are also enjoying this pastime too.

A Great Way To Spend Free Time

One of the great myths regarding snorkeling is that a lot of people, who have never taken part in the hobby, often think that they will need to buy a lot of equipment. However, this is not true, and most beginners just need one or two pieces of equipment before they can get started. Another myth is that the equipment for snorkeling is expensive, this is not true either, and most people will find equipment that will suit their budget, whatever it is.

Understanding Snorkeling Masks

The most difficult choice, when it comes to snorkeling, is the choice of mask. A snorkeling mask needs to be as perfect for you as you can get it, as it is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment that you can get. The mask needs to fit perfectly yet be comfortable enough for you to use, because a poorly fitting one can lessen your enjoyment of the hobby. It is a good idea to ask friends who take part in snorkeling for their advice, although what fits them well may not be suitable for you.

The Snorkel Tube

As important as the mask is, you would not be able to enjoy the hobby of snorkeling without the most crucial piece of equipment, the snorkel itself. The snorkel is the tube that will allow you to breathe when you are under water. This is the most important piece of equipment, and although it is merely a plastic tube, you may be surprised that there are actually a large number of different snorkels to choose from, and the longer the snorkel the deeper that you can swim and the wider the snorkel, the easier it is to breathe when you are under water.

When you have purchased the mask and the snorkel, the next item you will need is a good pair of flippers and you are ready to go and take part in one of the most breathtaking and relaxing hobbies in the world.

Don’t Let Camping Cramp Your Style – Stress-Free Camping Tips

Camping can be very stressful. Don’t let the stress get in the way of having fun and spending quality time with your family. Here are some stress-free camping tips that you can do to avoid any trouble.

Before going to a camping trip, check the rules and regulations of the camp site you are going to. Some forests and camp sites do not allow camping stoves to be used during fire danger periods. It’s better to check before your trip if the camp site allows camp fires and barbeques.

To avoid any kind of accident, keep your fire levels moderate. You do not need a raging fire to cook your food or keep you warm. Never leave a campfire or a stove unattended and avoid using cooking stoves when it is really windy.

Keep your cooking area clean from flammable materials like matches, propane and papers. If you have children with you on the trip, remind them to not get too close to the fire and impose a three feet fire zone for them.

Always have pot holders ready whenever you’re cooking. Keep water in hand to extinguish the fire or if you have one, bring a portable fire extinguisher.

Do not set up your tent near the camp fire. Make sure your tent is flame retardant.

Do not over pack; over packing takes up a lot of tent space. If you’re going on a four day trip then bring clothes set for two days. Remember to bring a light jacket, warm sweater, shorts, shirts, pants and extra underwear. If you want to go hiking, bring hiking boots.

Plan a camping menu so you know what food to bring and what to prepare during the time of day. Bring non-perishable food like bread and nuts. Store your perishables in a cooler filled with ice. Keep your meals simple and at the same time add your kids’ favorite meals. If you want to choose an easy way out, drive to the nearest fast food or burger joint and have your meals there.

Bring board games and sports equipment like Frisbee, soccer ball and baseball equipment. Also bring toys and books for the kids. Create a little play area near your camp site. Bring a fishing pole and teach your kids how to catch fish.

Spray your tent with rain resistant solution and bring an additional tarp to provide cover and shade. Make sure the tent is large enough to accommodate everyone going to the trip and have enough space for the equipment.

Assign tasks to the children. Include them in the planning process. Have them help you in setting up the tent, cooking food and cleaning utensils. This way they can be part of the camping process and at the same time learn how to do different things. By doing this, they feel that they are important. As an adult, remember to supervise small children at all times to avoid any accidents.

Do everything as a family. Bring   swim  suits and  swimming  gear if there’s a lake or ocean nearby. Take a nature hike.

Remember to have fun and enjoy the goodness of nature and also teach your kids about the importance of taking care of nature.

How to Have the Perfect Family Beach Vacation

Although no place can compare to the comfort offered by your own home, it can also hold certain bad memories for you and your family. If you and your family need a time to bond with each other, consider having a family beach vacation and letting the white sand, cool breeze, and roaring waves soothe away past hurt and rebuild the ties within your family.

Where to have a family beach vacation

Beaches – The first thing you have to look for is the perfect beach for your family. While it doesn’t have to be private, a beach that isn’t too crowded is certainly better as kids aren’t really blessed with lots of patience and a high tolerance for discomfort. Make sure also that the beach you’re intending to visit is one appropriate for kids; it would be pretty hard to explain to them after all when you accidentally take them to a nudists’ beach and they see all the naked people there.

Housing – When you’ve found the right beach, the next thing to search for is the right accommodation. Do you wish to stay on a hotel or a resort? Perhaps you would wish to rent a cottage instead of a room? How much budget do you have for your accommodation? If your kids wish to bring your family pet with you, will your accommodation allow for pets?

Area – Once you’ve determined where to live, the last thing to do is scout the area and try finding out what types of activities and events can you expect to engage in and which will provide lots of fun not only for you and your partner but your kids as well.

What to do before, during and after a family beach vacation

Packing – Make sure that you bring clothes that are appropriate for the weather in your destination. Pack as lightly as you can but don’t skimp on necessities. Bring floating devices with you to reduce the chances of harm befalling on any of your kids. Skincare products are also important especially if you intend to hit the beach in the heat of summer. Make sure that you bring shades and lots of sun block.

Delegating – Don’t make any concrete plans until you’ve successfully obtained a vacation leave or anything similar to it from your boss. Ask favors from neighbors or friends to keep an eye on your mail and your house. This will take your mind off troubles at home and allow you to have more fun with your family.

Traveling – Never allow your kids to hit the road with an empty stomach as this will only make them more irritable than usual. Make pit stops frequently to allow your kids to stretch their legs and visit the rest room regularly. Entertain your kids with toys, activities, games, and stories during the ride to keep them from noticing the amount of time they’re spending cooped inside a car.

You should also consider renting out a portable DVD player to allow your kids to watch their favorite programs or movies while you’re on your way to your vacation destination.

Having Fun – When you get there, have your kids freshen up and rest a bit before hitting the beach. Make sure that your kids are all properly attired and their skins properly protected from harmful UV rays. Warn them continuously about the dangers of swimming too far and without adult supervision. Nevertheless, don’t allow your kids to leave unaccompanied and especially if the weather channel hints about an unfavorable climate.

Allow them to have snacks while swimming as this will make their vacations twice as better. To make things more interesting and pleasant for your kids, you can give them basic surfing and diving lessons and accompany them when trying out different water sports and activities.

Take lots of pictures because no moment is the same with another.

In the end, of course, no matter how much planning and preparation you make, you or anyone in your family are liable to commit mistake and make the vacation anything but perfect. Even circumstances and fate can certainly rain on your parade. Even so, the important thing to remember that it’s never the place but always the company that will make family beach vacations count.

Three Great Vacation Ideas That Will Save You Money

In today’s perilous economic times I know I am having a tough time trying to find enough cash to pay all the bills and still lead a comfortable life. It seems there is barely anything left over to pay for an evening out now and then after paying for groceries and gas for the car. I was thinking that I might have to forget about a vacation this year as the savings account just keeps getting smaller and smaller. After researching the problem for several hours I have found that there are some really great options available for low cost family vacations that can be very interesting and enjoyable.

> When was the last time you went to a regional park? Some of these parks are run by local counties and various other governmental agencies. About twenty miles from my home there is a large man made lake which is actually a reservoir for holding water for nearby cities. The lake is stocked periodically with several types of fish which provide an excellent fresh food source. There are numerous campsites with lavatories close by, the roads are all paved and recreational opportunities abound. There are activities such as water skiing, hiking,   swimming , fishing, and there are watercraft rentals available. You will find amphitheaters at these parks where rangers frequently present talks about the native history and furnish information about the local wildlife. If you plan only a one day excursion or maybe several days are reserved for a camping trip, you are going to find numerous opportunities for a very enjoyable get away that need not be too far away from home and certainly won’t cause any problems for your savings account.

> If you have a desire to stay a little closer to home then consider a back yard campout. Two or more families can plan to camp out together in back yards or nearby woods if they are available. Bathrooms can be used in individual homes when necessary and the cooking can be done on bar-b-ques or on camp stoves. The use of outdoor fires can be a problem if you happen to be within a metropolitan area but you only need to inquire of the local authorities to see if that might be permitted. With the money you save on gasoline you can probably take everyone out for an ice cream treat after supper. Physical activities can be a lot of fun when the adults join the kids for hiking and games such as baseball and football. Some families will enjoy treasure hunts and sometimes board games like Chess, Checkers and Monopoly will give hours of enjoyment.

> If you live close to a large city that has a zoo why not look into camping overnight with the animals. What a wild idea for the kids and when have you ever camped out at the zoo? You’ll learn all about the feeding habits of the animals and you’ll be able to observe the nocturnal behavior of some of the animals that you hardly ever get to see in the day time.

In spite of the tight budgets most of us have to live with right now, it is still possible to find new and unusual ways to get that much deserved vacation in and save a little money while doing it. Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention and these days we all have to be inventive to just to survive. You need only have an open mind and be willing to try new ideas and then as you invent new ways to enjoy your life you just might find that some of these new inventions will become permanent fixtures in your future.

Days Out in Bristol – Top 10 Attractions

Bristol is an excellent destination for a day trip or weekend break. It is a very cosmopolitan city, yet one that is steeped in history. There are many landmarks and local attractions in Bristol. This article is a guide to ten of the best attractions that the city has to offer.

1. The Suspension Bridge

Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Bristol Suspension Bridge is one of the most iconic attractions that the city has to offer. Rising high above the Avon Gorge, the Suspension Bridge connects Bristol and North Somerset. Take a walk over the bridge and enjoy the stunning views, or pay 50p and drive over into Leigh Woods. However you decide to cross it, this grade 1 listed building is a must-see.

2. Brunel’s SS Great Britain

The SS Great Britain is another of Brunel’s designs. Situated on the docks, this stunning and imposing ship is one of the best local attractions in Bristol. The ship has been preserved so that tourists can come and enjoy its splendour; it now even features a museum and on-site coffee-shop for those looking to enjoy the shop a little longer. The ship, which was brought back to Bristol in 1970, can even be hired as a wedding venue or events venue.

3. Bristol Zoo

Bristol Zoo is without a doubt one of the best Zoo’s in the South West. There are many animal enclosures to enjoy including an artificial island for the zoo’s resident Gorillas! Although admission is quite pricey, you definitely get your money’s worth and can spend the entire day there. The zoo often puts on animal talks and feeding shows, designed to entertain and educate.

4. At-Bristol

At-Bristol is an interactive science exhibition for children. It allows children to learn about science in a way that is fun and enjoyable without boring them. This hands-on exhibition is open throughout the year and boasts many new installations and programmes for children to enjoy. Situated in Bristol’s millennium square, At-Bristol is definitely one of the best days out in Bristol, especially if you have young children.

5. Cheddar Gorge

Named the second greatest attraction is Britain; Cheddar Gorge is a must-see when visiting Bristol. These lime-stone caves are a natural wonder and will excite and inspire both adults and children. Take a bus-tour around Cheddar Gorge and take some great panoramic pictures of the caves as you go. Open all year round whatever the weather.

6. The Lanes

The Lanes is a retro bowling venue right in the heart of Bristol city centre. Play a game or two and enjoy retro milkshakes and burgers at a fraction of the price. The Lanes also puts on regular movie nights and gigs; check out their website for more information.

7. Oasis   swimming  pool

Oasis is based in Swindon, so it is slightly outside of Bristol, but it’s definitely worth travelling to. A large pool with wave machines, slides and chutes, Oasis  swimming  pool will put a smile on all faces. This  swimming  pool has large changing rooms, an on-site restaurant and free car-parking.

8. Cabot Circus

Opened in 2008, this large outdoor shopping district is now one of Bristol’s top attractions. Shop until your heart’s content, or grab a bite to eat in one of Cabot Circus’ many bars and restaurants. With an on-site car park and a large Cinema De Lux, this outdoor shopping district is one not to miss. Visit the Cabot Circus website to see list of shops and department stores.

9. Ashton Court

Ashton Court is a large inner-city park, boasting 850 acres of green land. Home to the Ashton court Festival, The Bristol Balloon Festival and the Bristol International Kite Festival, this stunning public park is a haven for all nature-lovers. Golf course, tea-rooms and on-site parking all available.

10. Weston Super Mare

Weston Super Mare is just a short drive or bus-ride from Bristol and is an archetypal seaside resort. Eat fish and chips on the beach, play arcade games and take a donkey ride up and down the fine sand. The beach at Weston Super Mare has been the home to T4’s Party on the beach for the past few years which is a large music event drawing huge crowds in summer.

Ultimate Airplane Themed Games & Activities for your Child’s Birthday Party

Are you looking for the Ultimate Airplane Themed Party Games and Activities? Well stop looking because they are right here…

Good Luck and happy reading…

“Paper Airplane Contest” Have each child make a paper airplane. Depending on the age of the children, you can either have them create their own, follow a pattern or make them ahead of time. Have various contests, such as, longest flight, highest flight, furthest from a target, best crash, most flips, largest flip, etc. Provide enough categories to allow each child to win a prize.

“Pin the Pilot on the Plane” Draw or copy a picture of a plane on a large piece of paper. Draw an outline where the pilot should be sitting. Make a different pilot for each child and either put a number or name on the pilot to identify the child. You can also cut out a picture of your child and paste him on the pilot’s head. Using double face tape, blindfold one guest at a time, spin them around and have them try to place the pilot in the correct location. The child closest is the winner.

“Airplane Search” Fill a large container (  swimming  pool, sandbox, large bowl, etc work best) with packing peanuts. Put enough die cast airplanes in the container so each child finds one. One at a time, have the children find an airplane. You can time them and see who finds the airplane the fastest. This airplane can go home with them in their goody bag.

“Jet Race” To play this wonderful game, mark a target on the ground a short distance away or make a finish line on the floor with tape. Make a starting line and blow up a balloon for each child. For added effects, place airplane stickers on the balloons. To begin, count down from three. When you say go, each child tries to land his or her “jet” inside the target, or cross the finish line, by tossing or hitting it.

“Musical Planes” Here is one of the children’s favorite games. To setup, you need enough airplane cutouts for every child minus one. Check out our Airplane pictures and clipart for some ideas. Place them in a circle so the children have enough room to walk around them. Place the children on the outside of the airplanes and make sure they aren’t stepping on them yet. When the music starts, the children will walk around the airplanes. As soon as the music stops, the children have to sit on one of the airplanes. Whoever isn’t sitting on an airplane is out. Remove one airplane and continue the game until one child remains.

“Obstacle Course” This game is best played outside in a large open area. Create a runway using masking tape, chalk, cones, etc to mark the boundaries. It should be around 50 feet long and 10 feet wide to allow enough room for the children to maneuver their planes. Get some non-breakable items, such as, bouncy balls, sports balls, tin cans, clothing, toys, blankets, etc. These items are going to represent other planes on the runway.

Next, pair up the children. One child will need to be the pilot and the other will be the air traffic controller. The air traffic controller’s job is to guide the pilot (blindfolded) down the runway without running into any other plane (non-breakable items).

How to play: the first pilot stands at the end of the runway with their arms stretched out like a plane. The air traffic controller can stand anywhere along the runway, but the best position is behind the pilot. This will eliminate any confusion when they are using the commands left and right.

Once the pilot is blindfolded, all the other children can throw more objects on the runway to make the challenge even more difficult. After the children have added the extra planes, the controller guides the pilot down the runway using commands like, “Take two steps forward”, “One step left”, “Two large steps to the left”.

If the child crashed, the next team will get to take a turn. Award the team who made it the farthest on the runway, without crashing, a prize.

“Sleep/Stand!” This a great modified game of the old time favorite, Simon Says. Have the children line up and face you, or whoever the caller is. There are only two sayings the children have to listen for: I say sleep or I say stand. When you say, “I say sleep” the children must lie down and pretend to sleep or when you say, “I say stand” the children must stand up. If you say a command without, “I say” and the children do it, then they are out. As the game progresses, say the commands faster. The children will be going up and down so fast they won’t even hear the “I say” part. It’s a great game and packed full of laughs!

“Where’s the Cake?” Children always love to go on a mission to find “something” and this game will definitely be a treat for them. This game is going to require help from friends and be under a lot of adult supervision. Separate the children into two teams and give each team a set of clues and party favors to find. Give each child a bag to put the favors in and make sure that each guest has at least one favor. The clues and favors should lead the children to the cake. Whichever team finds the cake first gets to be served first!

“Airport Field Trip” How cool would this activity be? Do you live near a small municipal airport? A lot of airports will allow you to bring a group of children for a tour of the facility. Give them a call and see if you can plan one during some airplane take-offs and landings. The kids will love this experience and they’ll talk about for months!

“Storytime/Videotime” Do you need an activity towards the end of the party which might “calm” the children down? Well, how about a great airplane story or movie? Jay Jay and Friends have a lot of books and movies out and children just love them. Get one and plan it towards the end of the party. This will also give you a chance to do a little cleanup before the parents arrive to pick up their children.

Earth Day Senior Citizen Activities Using Plastic Water Bottles

Earth Day will be celebrated April 22nd around the world- as it has been since it was founded on April 22, 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson. This year I am planning a few special “Earth friendly” Earth Day projects for the Horticultural Therapy and Crafting classes I teach to Seniors- although we reuse and recycle household items in our programs year-round.

Most of my students are still pretty frugal since they lived through the Depression and learned to make do with very little during that time. I’ve been told stories about how their Moms would make their underwear out of flour sacks, home gardens that provided most of their food during the war and how their Mothers would take a look at a formal gown in the store window and create an exact replica by hand when they did not have the money for store-bought clothes.

As part of my ongoing classes I already reuse and recycle a lot of commonly discarded household items including plastic water bottles, paper juice and milk cartons, gallon milk jugs, 2 liter plastic bottles, paper and plastic egg cartons, egg shells, paper towel tubes, brown paper bags and newspaper to name a few.

This article will focus on projects that reuse plastic drinking bottles. Plastic drinking bottles have a profoundly negative impact on our environment and are becoming a bigger problem each day. The World Wildlife Federation states that 1.5 million tons of plastic is used in bottling 89 billion liters of water each year. This process assists in the draining of the world’s fossil fuels and creates tons of trash that will take 70 to 450 years to degrade in our landfills. So every bottle we keep out of the landfill helps future generations. And we can all feel good about that!

Here are a few of the fun projects my classes have done in the past year to reuse all or part of a plastic drinking bottle:

  • Game Board Markers– Drinking bottle caps can be used as game pieces for home made Bingo game markers. I created Butterfly Garden Bottle Cap Bingo that used bottle caps as spot markers on the Bingo cards. The Bingo Cards were printed on 8.5 x 11 sheets and were laminated using shelf liner vinyl- so they are reusable. Bottle caps were decorated with fun flower and bug stickers. Seniors love their Bingo so this was a great way to teach my students the names of the different plants that grow well in our area that will draw butterflies to their garden.
  • Paper mache vases-This activity actually reuses two common items that go into the landfill every day- plastic bottles and newspaper. We covered the plastic drinking bottles with several layers of strips of newspaper dipped in liquid starch (you can also use watered down glue or a flour mixture). Then we painted the bottles with acrylic paints and a coat of Modge Podge and decorated them with yarn, beads, buttons, glass beads and other materials. The vases are waterproof so they can be used to display fresh, dried or silk flowers.
  • Seedling or Cutting Starters– First cut the Plastic Bottle in half. Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom of the bottom half of the bottle then fill with soil and plant cuttings or seeds to create inexpensive mini greenhouses. Use the top half of the bottles as small plant cloches to protect tiny seedlings you have planted in seed beds.
  • “Grass Head Guys”- Cut plastic bottle in half. Use the bottom half of the bottle as the base for your “Grass Head Guy” project – later it will be filled with water so the grass will grow. This is a homemade version of a Chia Pet where you fill a knee high stocking foot (can also use recycled pantyhose) with grass seed and soil and it kind of looks like a little potato-head when it is decorated. The Bottom half of the bottle can be decorated in lots of fun ways as the body of your “Grass Head Guy”.

These activities are great for Seniors who live in Assisted Living or Memory Care Residences- although many of my Independent Seniors also enjoyed making the Paper Mache Vases and Seedling Starters. And some of the activities would be great multi-generational projects for children and Seniors to do together.

Sharing Pool Inflatables For Summer Pleasure

Your swimming pool will be a gathering place for your friends and family alike. They will never get bored splashing around in the beautiful clear water or lounging beside the pool. However, you can make their visits even more pleasurable by adding pool inflatables.

Guests will enjoy slipping into the water on pool inflatables slides. A hose can be attached to run water down the slides for a slick, fast ride into the pool. Children will love the fun of getting into the pool this way, and average sized adults can even use them. Most are made in bright colors to liven up the swimming pool atmosphere. They are great for child or adult parties.

Some are simply so unusual that they deserve their own category. Pool float toys come in various odd shapes that are perfect for stringing across the pool. Children and adults can hang on and go for a ride, whether they need help swimming or not. One of these interesting pool inflatables is the Crazy Twister inflatable swimming pool float toy.

You will be happy conversing and sharing special times with your friends when you sit in pool loungers. Some of the loungers are shaded and can float right on top of the water. Imagine a pool filled with your loved ones seated on loungers which are floating gracefully in a group. That would be a nice afternoon or evening pastime.

Children can share in the fun as well. There are inflatables meant specifically for kids. One is a teeter totter that children can ride atop the surface of the water, jumping in whenever they need a refreshing break. These allow you to share your vacation with the younger members of your family.

Your mother always told you it was nice to share. When you have exciting pool inflatables to pass around, you will find that it is not only nice, but incredibly delightful as well. You will have fun this summer when you share your pool inflatables toys.