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25 Things To Do Before Back To School!

Have you checked your calendar lately? Labor Day is nearing fast, but don’t panic. Our Moms’ Council has 25 suggestions of last minute things you can do before it’s back-to-school time.

It always amazes me that summer vacation goes by as quickly as it does.  When the kids get out in mid-June, it is almost daunting thinking that we will all have 10 unscheduled weeks together until it’s time for back-to-school. 

Many of us have grandiose plans of how we will soak up the glorious sun, kick back and drink ice-cold Del’s Lemonade, or finally get to visit friends, family and places that we can’t seem to fit into our winter schedules. 

Newsflash:  In less than four weeks, most South County schools will be back in session, and much to many of our moms’ council members' chagrin, we still haven’t done half of what we wanted to with our kids this summer.

Here is a combined list of 25 things that several of our Gansett moms hope to accomplish before those school bells ring.  Maybe a few will speak to you as well.

  1.  Go to the Drive-In.       Believe it or not, there is still a Drive-In here in Rhode Island—the Rustic Drive-In in North Smithfield.  This is a nostalgic favorite for many families so be sure and check out the listings.

  2. Play Mini Golf.     A friendly game of mini golf is a great way to unwind after a tough day at the beach!  Adventureland also has go karts, bumper boats and a grand old carousel.

  3. Eat dinner at the beach.     Many townies agree that the best time to hit the beach is around 5 PM.  Pack a dinner of sandwiches, fruit salad and chocolate chip cookies or grab some clamcakes and chowda and take in a beautiful sunset while the kids play beach volleyball.

  4. Catch fireflies at night.      Nothing marks a lazy summer night like a parade of fireflies dancing all over your backyard.  If you remember catching fireflies as a child, why not let your kids experience that thrill too?  Grab some jars and catch some magic!

  5.  Go to the Washington County Fair   August 15th – 19th   Owned and operated by the volunteers of the Washington County Pomona Grange, the Washington County Fair, a non-profit organization, has been a great New England tradition for the past 46 years! The Fair is Rhode Island’s largest agricultural event. One of the biggest draws to the Fair is today’s Country Music Stars!

  6. Roast Marshmallows over a fire and make s’mores.    One of the quintessential summer experiences is roasting marshmallows over a fire and making delicious s’mores.  It’s one of those simple pleasures that many of us say we want to do every summer, but don’t seem to get to.

  7. Pick Berries or melon from a farm.    Schartner’s Farm in Exeter is now ripe with blueberries, blackberries, and cantaloupe. Or take your family to historic Casey Farm and visit the Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9 am – 12 pm 

  8. Go clamming.   A favorite past time for many of us who grew up in this area was clamming.  There are several spots locally including Roger Wheeler Beach at low tide, but a popular spot is the Escape Road in Pt. Judith.     Once you haul in a bushel or two, you can make your own homemade chowda and clamcakes!

  9. Try a new flavor of ice cream.     Do you and your kids always choose the same flavor of ice cream every time you go out to your favorite ice cream parlor?  Get creative and try something new like peach or chocolate mango sherbert!   Moo Moo’s on Pt. Judith Road, Nana’s Ice Cream and Gelato in the Pier Market Place  and Brickley’s on Boston Neck Road or Main Street Wakefield are three local favorites.

  10. Attend an outdoor concert.      Check out the listing of outdoor summer concerts available to enjoy in South County and other areas of Rhode Island.  Most are free and a great way to relax on a crisp summer evening.  

  11. Play Frisbee or try hula hooping.     Don’t forget to simply hang out in your own backyard this summer.  Frisbee, hula hooping and freeze tag are great games the whole family can enjoy.

  12. Go on a Scavenger hunt at the beach.      Most kids love to go on a treasure hunt.   Gather up a list of items that are found on the beach and give your kids the thrill of a scavenger hunt.  Think of something fun for a prize in the end such as a dinner out for pizza or a trip to Del’s.

  13. Take in a summer baseball game.   Baseball and summer go hand in hand.  We’re lucky to have a team like the Pawtucket Red Sox to visit all summer long  and the Newport Gulls play impressive baseball in downtown Newport at Cardine ‘s Field, though their season is winding down. 

  14. Go to the Zoo.     If you haven’t been to the Roger Williams Zoo recently, you are in for a treat.  The past couple of years the zoo has been expanding and refurbishing many of their exhibits.   They also have a wonderful new interactive play area for kids including a remarkable tree house to explore.   In addition, there is a carousel, Swan paddle boats and plenty of places in the park to have a picnic.  

  15. Make a tie-dyed item.    Tie-dye, now that’s a blast from our past!  Yet, kids today still love to make their own tie-dyed items and there is really no limit to what you can recreate when you tie-dye something.  Recycle stained t-shirts, use pillow cases, beach towels, tote bags, aprons, leggings, and old sweatshirts.  Tie-dye items are available at craft stores and summer is the perfect time to do this because you can do it outdoors where there will be less mess!

  16. Start an End-of-Summer Tradition.       The end of summer is definitely bittersweet.  Personally, I’m usually ready to send those darlings back to school by mid-August, but I always miss the “non-scheduled” lifestyle we lead for two months.  One way to ease the kids back into their school year routine is to have an “end of summer” tradition.  We usually head to Burlington Mass and do a little school shopping and then have dinner at The Rain Forest Café.  The night before the first day of school we always have a buffet of everyone’s favorite dinner items and then make ice cream sundaes.  Of course, it wouldn’t be a traditional first day of school if there weren’t brownies and homemade cookies waiting for those tired cherubs to walk back in the door. 

  17. Have a Lazy Off for one full day.     Sometimes, summer can actually be exhausting!  All that running back and forth to the beach, pool etc.    Try a complete “Lazy Off” one day.  Stay in your PJs all day long and just lounge and indulge in whatever lazy thing meets your fancy!

  18. Head to the library and Wrap up summer reading.     How’s that summer reading going for your kids?  If they have their books, encourage that they keep up the great work and finish up a week or so in advance.  If they haven’t even started yet, head to the library and work on scheduling in time every day from here on out so they aren’t in a panic the day before school starts.

  19. Pose for your family holiday card now!   Go ahead and hate us for this suggestion, but it never hurts to get your family’s holiday card pose as early as possible.  Summer is a great time to capture some candid shots of your kiddos on the beach or hanging out by the pool or in the yard.  You’ll thank yourself come December!

  20. Get together with friends or family that you haven’t seen all summer for a cookout.   Have you been meaning to get together with friends and family for a cookout all summer long but it just hasn’t happened yet?  Grab the dogs and burgers and light up the grill.  There’s no time like the present!

  21. Take a day trip.       There is still plenty of time to schedule a day trip or two for the fam.   Several tried and true favorites from our Gansett Moms’ Council are Canobie Lake Park in Salem Mass, Mystic Seaport and Aquarium, Boston Museum of Science where you could even take the train in from the new North Kingstown Junction.

  22. Get organized for back to school sooner rather than later.    Not to be a killjoy or anything, but the back-to-school sales have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now so if you’re game, take a blank day on your calendar and start making a slow dent in school supplies, lunch boxes, sneakers and the like.  Don’t go crazy—kids don’t need a complete new wardrobe to head back to their steamy classrooms.

  23. Go visit a local place you’ve never really checked out before.   Try a different beach, go fly kites at a nearby park,  visit the little shops in Galilee and sit and watch the fishing boats come in and out, or finally go have dinner someplace you’ve always wanted to try like Crazy Burger, Catarina’s,  or something a bit more fancy like Basil’s.   

  24. Plan a date night with your spouse or significant other before the kids go back to school.   If  you’re like most parents, you’ve been playing cruise director all summer long and haven’t had much time to connect with your honey.  Plan a date night some place scenic and summery with your significant other and make a few special summer memories of your own.

  25. Practice a random act of kindness for a neighbor, stranger, family member, or even someone in your local police, fire, hospital, or school department.   Get the kids involved and pick an organization that deserves a little pat on the back.  Bake some cookies for the staff in the main office of the school who have worked all summer long, or bring some freshly made lemonade to a neighbor who doesn’t get out much.  Whatever it is, make it a family affair and sit back and watch how happy your family’s efforts have made some unexpected person or organization as summer comes to a close.

We’d love it if you’d like to share some of your ideas and thoughts for ways to wrap up summer.  Please let us know here in the comment section or e-mail me at CB091987@aol.com or e-mail Editor Stephen Greenwell at Stephen.Greenwell@Patch.com.

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