Tune in every Wednesday this summer for a week's worth of themed summer fun for your teenagers!
This week's theme: Starlight!
Summer is the perfect time to direct your gaze up at the brilliant stars and spend some time dreaming and wishing under them.
Eat Under the Stars
Stargazing, of course, requires you to get outdoors after dark. The best way to start an evening under the stars is with an old-fashioned barbeque. It doesn't have to be expensive or elaborate, but cooking out will get everyone in the mood.
One of the best ways to get in the stargazing mood is with a hotdog bonanza. Get a couple of packages of good quality hotdogs and buns. If you have an outdoor fire pit, light it up and let everyone cook their own hotdogs. If you're using a grill, just roast them until they're nice and toasty.
Now set up a table with a wide variety of toppings. Chili, sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard and relish are classics. Try pineapple salsa, guacamole, cole slaw, baked beans or grilled onions for something a little different.
Best Outdoor Desert EVER
There is really only one choice for a desert in the great outdoors. That desert, of course, is S'mores.
Start by toasting a marshmallow. Now sandwich it with a square of milk chocolate between two graham cracker squares. The marshmallow melts the chocolate and makes the S'more ooey, gooey good.
Get out of Town
The best place to see the stars is somewhere away from the city lights. Pack some sleeping bags and snacks and head out to a camping area out of town and spend a few hours enjoying the scenery overhead. A fire won't interfere with stargazing, so this is a good place to have that wienee roast and S'more fest!
Have a star-friendly movie marathon this week with some classics and new favorites.
Stardust is a movie based on a book of the same name about a fallen star and the boy who falls in love with her. It's rated PG13 for some fantasy violence and risque jokes. This movie is appropriate for the over 13 crowd, and perhaps a little younger with adult supervision.
Who can resist ET? This is a family classic that will have your kids wondering what's up there, beyond the stars.
There may not exactly be stars in Wizard of Oz, but where else can you find a story about a girl whose swept up into the sky by a tornado?
Zathura is a fun, fantasy movie about brothers who lift their whole house into outer space while playing a game.
It doesn't get any more classic than the Star Wars franchise for movies that explore the outer reaches of the universe. These movies are best for kids 13 and over, who won't get scared by the fight scenes.
Take a Closer Look
If your kids really get interested in the stars, check around your community for an observatory. You could also invest in a telescope and start investigating the heavens. Check with your local community centers to see if someone is offering a class in stargazing that your kids can participate in. Also, star paying attention to news about happenings in the sky, like comet showers or eclipses.
Books About the Stars
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is a science fiction novel with teenage protagonists who find out that their war-in-the-stars games are more than they thought they were. Best for kids 13 and over due to some fantasy violence.
A Wrinkle in Time By Madeline L'engle is a classic young adult book about a family and how it copes when the father is lost in space.
If your teenager gets hooked on space, she might enjoy reading old Star Trek and Doctor Who books that you can get your hands on at a local library.