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There is nothing more frustrated (or frustrating) than a bored child in the summer. What can they do all day long?

Parents - A little direction goes a long way! Take five minutes to share an idea with a child and send him/her on their way to hours of fun! Teach them to use their imaginations, artistic skills, musical interests and so on.

Here are some ideas to ease the pain. I've separated them into three categories: Imagination Station, Art World, and Music Masters.

IMAGINATION STATION:

1. Dress up box. For boys or girls. Fill a large box with different costumes that will send your youngster all over the world of his or her imagination!

2. Play detective. Spy on Mommy and Daddy! Take notes! Spy on your pets! Have your child write a story based on what he/she observed and leave it out on the coffee table for grown-up guests to read. Kids LOVE when adults express interest. Adult interest will inspire them to do all sorts of cute things.

3. Doll time. Give your child and their dolls a dramatic scenario to act out. Sometimes children need a little push in this area. Adults are good at thinking up wild adventures for Barbies, GI Joes, etc. Pretend the back yard is a jungle, another planet, or a deep, dark forest...

ART WORLD:

1. Buy some water based paints and a giant pad of paper. Let the kids loose. Let them paint outside. Tell them you want a landscape for the house. They will love the idea of painting for you. This sort of art looks great framed in the kids bathroom or bedroom.

2. Let them use colored chalk to decorate the entire driveway and front sidewalk. Tell them to go into great detail, or have a contest to see who can draw "the most." Of course, everybody wins. Then, let them use the water hose to spray the designs away. All of this could take up an entire afternoon!

3. Some thin paper and more colored chalk or charcoal are all the tools you need to make some interesting textures. Then, have the kids use the textured areas to create martian creatures or funny buildings, etc. The possibilities are endless.

MUSIC MASTERS:

1. Showtime! Tell the kids that they can put on a show to their favorite song after dinner time. Believe me, they'll practice all day. Of course, you have to be prepared to watch the show and clap and cheer. This is always terribly cute and should be photographed or video taped.

2. Watch and old musical, and then send them to the dress up box. Let them act out the songs or movie later for an audience. This sort of activity builds confidence and lets them explore characters that may or may not reflect their usual personality traits. Fun to watch!

3. Sing! Sing! Sing! Let your child write lyrics and sing for you! This helps them with their writing, rhyming and self-confidence skills. The lyrics are usually funny and are something that makes a cute gift for grandparents.