The school year has come to an end for most students, which means that very soon, millions of kids will be looking for something to keep them busy. While summer is a time for fun and relaxation, it can also be stressful for parents who are not sure what to do with their kids. It might be tempting to let them sit in front of the television, but that is not good for their health or the environment. With a little planning, summer can be a great time for new experiences. Below are several eco-friendly ideas to help you have a great summer.
Visit the Zoo
Going to the zoo is a great family-friendly activity that can be fun and educational. Each trip to the zoo is an opportunity to learn about wildlife from all over the world. You can go on a safari through the African wilderness, visit Antarctica to watch the penguins, or trek through the rain forests of Central and South America. Most zoos have summer camps for kids that teach about the animals and habitat conservation. Your kids will learn about animals and get an appreciation for biodiversity of the earth. The more they learn about the natural world, the more likely it is that they will be to want to take care of it. 
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What better way to get away from the city and learn about nature than to spend a couple days camping in the woods? Camping is a great way to relax and learn more about nature. You can walk silently among the trees and forget the distractions of the city. Camping is also a way to get away from the bright lights of the city and do some stargazing. Your kids will be amazed at how many more stars they can see! When it is time to return home, be sure to pack all your trash and make sure that your campfire is completely extinguished before heading back to civilization.
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Go For a Picnic
It’s summer, and the weather is nice, so you do not want to be trapped inside all the time, right? Get out of the house and go on a picnic. Make yourself some sandwiches and head out on an adventure. Find a nearby park or other place to get out of the house. Get some fresh air and have some fun.
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Make Your Own Toys from Recycled Materials
One way to keep the kids busy is to do crafts with them. If you are creative, you can teach them some lessons about the environment at the same time. Look for materials that you have around the house, such as cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, and milk cartons. Boxes make great building blocks, and if you have an extra large one, it can be made into a house, a train, a car, or whatever else your child can think of. Fill plastic bottles with small rocks to make shakers, string rubber bands across an old box for a makeshift guitar, or make a simple bird feeder from an empty milk carton. The possibilities are only limited to your creativity!
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Head for the Library
When the weather gets hot, you might want a break from the heat. Instead of firing up your own air conditioner, try visiting a local library. Libraries are great places to go to beat the heat. You can enjoy the cool air inside while learning all about your favorite topics. Sharing the books with other patrons means that fewer trees will go into making new books.
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Visit the Science Museum
If the library is not your style, how about the local science museum? Science museums are great places to go to learn more about the natural world. You can relax in the air-conditioned building while learning more about how the earth’s atmosphere works. Take a trip to the planetarium or browse the climate section. You will come away smarter and cooler. 
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Splash in a Fountain
Another way to cool down is to visit a local fountain for a dip in the cool water. The kids will love to splash around, and you can cool off without using your air conditioning.
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Go to the Beach
Not everyone lives close to the beach, but if you do, taking a walk on the beach is a great way to enjoy the summer. You can walk up and down the shore, exploring the tide pools and learning about sea life. Take a quick dip in the water when it gets too hot, but don’t forget to use sunscreen. It’s no fun to come home looking like a cooked crab!
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Clean Up Your Neighborhood
One thing you can do to make a difference in your city is to spend some time picking up litter and cleaning up the neighborhood. Some towns have a summer clean-up that you can take part in, but if yours does not, you can still take an afternoon to help clean up the town. When you do this, you teach your kids some valuable lessons about service, and you also make your neighborhood more livable.
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Get Outside and Garden
Having a garden is a great eco-friendly activity for the summer. You can spend time learning about how things grow, and teach your kids the value of work. Your kids will love to watch their plants grow and mature, and at the end of the summer the whole family will be able to enjoy the fruits of the summer’s work. By planting and tending a garden all summer, you also reduce the need to purchase food from the supermarket, where much of the produce has been brought in from hundreds or thousands of miles away. 
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Send the Kids to an Eco-Camp
If your kids are old enough, you can send them to an eco-camp, where they will learn about environmental stewardship. Some camps have recycling classes, environmental classes, or organic gardening classes. They also offer many other activities that get kids outside into the natural world. The kids get the opportunity to make lots of new friends while learning all about the world around them. 
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So Many Options, So Little Time
One of the beauties of summer is its seemingly endless possibilities. However, sometimes having so many possibilities can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to decide what to do. By undertaking some of the activities listed above, you and your kids can have a great summer full of activities that are both fun and eco-friendly.