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DOG-DAY BOREDOM BUSTERS: 25 THINGS TO DO WHEN KIDS GET THE SUMMERTIME BLUES

The next time your child says, "I'm bored," suggest an idea from this fun-filled list. Most of these dog-day relievers require a minimum of adult supervision and no specially purchased supplies. Your child will be able to do some of these activities alone; for others, she'll want you or a few friends to join in. With these ideas at your fingertips, you won't be singing ". . . there ain't no cure for the summertime blues."

1. DRAW ON THE SIDEWALK. With chalk, draw a giant tic-tac-toe game or hopscotch grid on the driveway. Or draw a winding road - complete with gas station, parking lot and store - and take toy cars out for a spin. Some young artists enjoy drawing abstract expressions. Washing away the masterpiece with a hose is almost as fascinating as creating it to begin with.2. PITCH A SHEET TENT. This indoor activity is perfect for rainy days and really hot days. Your child can construct a tent with sheets or blankets strung across playroom or bedroom furniture. For small children, just drape a sheet or two over a favorite table. Stock the tent with pillows, stuffed animals, a flashlight and a few favorite books.

3. HAVE SOME GOOD, DIRTY FUN. Dress your child in her oldest T-shirt and shorts and turn her loose with a hose and bucket in whatever dirt you can find outside the house. (A dirt pile left over from gardening is perfect. At the end of summer, the garden itself can be an excellent location.) The goal of this game is to get as dirty as possible. While your child is busy smearing herself with mud, you might encourage her to make a mud pie with an old aluminum pie pan. Use twigs, leaves and stones for garnish and have her set her mud pie in the sun to bake. Take a picture of her and her creation.

4. PLAY BANK. This one requires some adult preparation. The next time you're in the bank, take a handful of spare deposit and withdrawal slips. Add an old checkbook, some play money from a board game, and rubber stamps and an ink pad, and your kids are ready to play. They can write themselves checks for $1,000, approve multimillion-dollar loans, or withdraw enough cash to buy out the nearest candy store. Especially good for rainy days.

5. PLAY OFFICE. Set up a desk with a toy telephone, some old junk mail, index cards, a calculator and any other office supplies that you can find. Your child can make his own business cards with the index cards and arrange a power lunch with his telephone. Older children who are budding entrepreneurs can make signs advertising their availability to baby-sit, walk dogs or mow lawns.

6. TAKE A HIKE. Help your child pack a cool drink, a treat (maybe a trail mix of her own concoction), and a sketchbook or notebook. Ask her to draw or describe something that she finds during her travels. When she returns, she can display her work on the refrigerator or bulletin board, put it in the family scrapbook, or mail it to Grandma and Grandpa.

7. HAVE A BACKYARD PICNIC. Have lunch or dinner outside on a blanket on the lawn, then spend a few minutes gazing at the cloud formations and trying to decide with animals or shapes they look like. Or lie back and spend a half-hour enjoying the old-fashioned pastime of reading.

8. PUBLISH YOUR OWN NEWSPAPER. Your young reporter can interview his friends and family for short noteworthy announcements of creative ways to cool off. Use stamps or drawings to illustrate the stories and stencils to write the headlines. Take the whole thing to the office or library to be photocopied, then your child can deliver his newspaper to the homes on your block. You and your child may want to mail copies to out-of-town friends and relatives. (All of this is a painless exercise in writing, spelling and organization.)

9. ORGANIZE A NEIGHBORHOOD PARADE. Your child can send out fliers notifying the other children in the neighborhood to decorate their bikes, scooters and wagons for an after-dinner parade. One parent could offer to host the participants for root beer floats at the end of the parade route; another could videotape the festivities and invite the children in to watch themselves.

10. MAKE YOUR OWN PIZZAS. Using English muffins, pizza sauce and shredded cheese, your child can be chef for a day. Add applesauce and a drink and she can prepare the family dinner. Reverse roles for the evening as you set the table or do the dishes, if these are chores that your child normally handles.

11. MAKE A COLLAGE. Provide a stack of old magazines or catalogs, glue, scissors and paper and ask your child to cut out animals, foods or toys that he likes. You can help your child create a paper-animal zoo by drawing bars on the paper and pasting one animal to each sheet. Display this lineup of cages on the garage door or playroom wall. Other ideas: Fill a paper refrigerator with favorite foods; just draw shelves and ask your child to paste pictures of juice boxes, ice cream and cookies to each shelf. Or have your child cut out and glue pictures of his favorite toys an use them to make a catalog or a "wish book" for daydreaming.

12. SET UP AN OBSTACLE COURSE. Using the assorted buckets, trash-can lids, lawn chairs, cardboard boxes and other items that are probably stored in the garage, your child - perhaps with a friend or sibling - can design a course that challenges them to jump, straddle or squirm under or around various objects. The kids can even turn your yard into the site of a neighborhood Olympics, awarding construction-paper ribbons or different-colored lollipops for first, second and third place.

13. STAGE A BIKE WASH. Give bikes, miniature toy cars, scooters and other assorted jalopies a good scrubbing and drying. All your child needs is a sponge, a bucket of sudsy water and a towel. Older children might want to set up a neighborhood business, charging a nickel to wash and shine their friends' vehicles. (Perhaps the proceeds can go toward the purchase of a box of ice pops for customers and workers alike.)

14. DESIGN YOUR OWN PERSONALIZED STATIONERY. Using a black felt-tip pen and a piece of lined paper, your child can design her own letterhead, complete with her name, a message and a drawing. For example, she might print "The news from Tracy" at the top of the sheet and then draw her favorite sports-team logo. Make photocopies and your child is all set to write a fan letter to a celebrity, a thank-you note to her grandparents, or a letter to a friend who has moved away.

15. PLAY POST OFFICE. With a few rubber stamps, an ink pad, some scrap paper and a few leftover junk-mail reply envelopes, your children can have a ball stamping, cutting, folding and "mailing" correspondence in a shoe box that has a mail slot cut through the lid.

16. CREATE A PENNANT. Using a triangular piece of poster board and some markers or poster paints, your child can design his own personal banner that tells the world what he stands for. A basketball enthusiast can, for example, draw a large orange ball on his flag, while a horse lover can draw a black-and-white horse's head on his. Your child can add his initials, a picture of his pet, and the name of his favorite sports team and then proudly display the banner in his room.

17. PLAY RESTAURANT. Using construction paper, crayons, scissors, stickers and scrap paper, your child can design a menu, place mats, bills and a sign for her establishment. If your child is old enough to make some of the items on the menu (peanut butter sandwiches, chips, cookies and drinks, for example), she can invite you and a sibling or neighbor to be the patrons. This activity can occupy an hour or two, but it may cause some damage to your kitchen. Although the restaurant staff is responsible for cleanup, you may need to help.

18. GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT. All you have to do is provide the list and a paper bag. Your child can then spend the next half-hour or so collecting such items as three dandelions, one adult signature, one pine cone, six smooth pebbles, one old newspaper, eight blades of grass, four paper clips and so on. You can restrict the search to indoor items on a rainy day or, if your child is too young to roam the neighborhood, to objects that can be found in your own backyard. When all of the items have been collected, your child can glue them to a piece of cardboard or a paper plate to display his newly found treasures.

19. CREATE A BOARD GAME OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. On a large piece of poster board, have your child and a friend draw a few of their favorite haunts: the ice cream shop, the pool, the movies, friends' houses. Have them connect the drawings with a winding road. Then fill in a few blocks along the road with instructions. For example, at the pool the instruction might read, "You get a sunburn, go back five spaces," while on an empty stretch of road, the message might say, "You've been helpful all morning: Your mother takes you for ice cream. Move ahead to the ice cream shop." Give the kids a pair of dice from a board game and some colored buttons or playing pieces for markers, and they will be ready to play.

20. STAGE A WATER-BALLOON FIGHT. Help your child fill a dozen balloons with water; then invite everyone to play a game of water-balloon hot potato. Try variations on the game, for example, tossing the balloon as slowly as possible during one round and as fast as possible during the next.

21. MAKE YOUR OWN FROZEN DESSERT. Simply pour fruit juice into an ice-cube tray and add leftover ice cream sticks, if you have them. Otherwise, you can eat your fruit cubes with a spoon.

22. PLAN A PARTY. Your child can enjoy several creative hours designing homemade invitations made of construction paper and stickers and deciding on the guest list, menu and theme. The party can be simple or whimsical, but it need not be elaborate. A vat of macaroni and cheese, apple slices, soda and a snack will suffice for the menu. Some party suggestions: Invite all of the neighborhood teddy bears for tea. Or host a community birthday bash where each guest brings a gift for a grab bag and everybody gets to blow out the candles on the cake. You might also try an end-of-summer good-bye party in which the guests fill out certificates of appreciation for one another, such as "To Molly, for being my bike-riding buddy," and "To Charlie, for letting me borrow his video game." Party favors, if you're up for the idea, can be packs of new back-to-school pencils or funny erasers.

23. HUNT FOR TREASURE. Leave a trail of clues leading from one part of the house or yard to another, and your child will be off and running. A message leading to the freezer might read, "Where you would live if you were an ice cube." The final clue might lead your child to the VCR, where a rented tape (perhaps "Treasure Island" or "Swiss Family Robinson") is waiting.

24. PAINT WITH WATER. Armed with a few old household paintbrushes and a bucket of water, your child can paint a watery masterpiece on the sidewalk, a fence or wall, or the driveway. Then he can watch his creation disappear as it dries in the sun, leaving a clear "canvas" for his next work of art.

25. PLAY SCHOOL. This idea, sure to be met with dismay from September through June, gains sudden appeal come the dog days of August. Ever notice how children who tossed their old school books in a heap in the closet on the last day of school resurrect them with glee during the summer? With a little prompting - and some help from you in setting up a makeshift desk with living-room furniture or old boxes - your kids may delight in playing the strict teacher, the teacher's pet, or the class wise guy for a good hour or two.