Face it. School is right around the corner. Parents may be happy, but the kids are heading for cover and hoping that it's all a bad dream. To help them squeeze out the last juices of summer freedom, here are five things that kids should do before the school bell rings this month.
The beaches | Sand, surf and sounds
With the scares about the oil spill, loop currents and tropical storms blowing it this way, the beaches are still pretty and still oil-free. Saturdays you can check out the Sunsets on the Trail at Treasure Island. Musicians and vendors line about a mile of the beachfront trail along with street performers, water slides and various inflatables for the kids. This week there is live pop rock by Sunza Beaches. It's from 4 to 9 p.m. and it's free at 10400 Gulf Blvd. Or go back to basics. Take your inner tube to Fort De Soto Park and get some floatie time in the gentle, bobbing surf of the gulf. When the water is clear, you can see the stingrays swoosh underneath — just don't put your feet down. And pay attention to whether the tide is coming in (get ready to be dumped on the shore) or going out (danger!). It's free.
Libraries | Fun is never overdue
Libraries have been happening places this summer. For example, this week Raymond and the Rays Street Team will be at the St. Petersburg's South Branch Library to hug and mug for cameras. It's free at 4 p.m. Friday at 2300 Roy Hanna Drive S, St. Petersburg. On Saturday, the East Lake Community Library is hosting an End of Summer Hosedown, where kids can splash in the spray with the help of the East Lake Fire Department. It starts at 10:30 a.m. at 4125 East Lake Road in Palm Harbor. Check your local library's website for the many events still going on this month. Oh, you can check out books there, too.
Movies | Wet or dry
Really, have you not taken in one of the free or cheap kids movies this summer? Probably the best movie is coming up Tuesday at participating AMC theaters when they show How to Train Your Dragon. See it for a $1. For a schedule and other cheap movies, see Page 23. And if that doesn't float your boat, try a Dive-in Movie. You can chill out on a raft and watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs on Friday night for just $3 per person from 8 to 10 p.m. at the St. Pete Beach Aquatic Center, 7701 Boca Ciega Drive, St. Pete Beach.
Bowling | Right up your alley
Bowling centers across the country have been offering free bowling times all summer long but most only last through Labor Day. Go to kidsbowlfree.com to find a spot near you. Plus there are two other bowling events coming up. Oakfield Lanes of Brandon, 1001 Oakfield Drive, offers $1 Bowling, with $1 games and $2 shoe rental 9 a.m. to noon Monday. (813) 681-4783. And Glow Bowl for Kids is 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Ten Pin Lanes, 1453 Pasadena Ave. S, St. Petersburg. Kids can also play Strike-it-Rich where they hit certain colored pins in a split or strike and win prizes. $4.25 per game, $3 shoe rental. (727) 381-1010.
Stargazing | Sky's the limit
The summer sky is a great time to see Mercury and Jupiter, and the Perseid meteor show should be visible the evening of Aug. 12 and the early-morning hours of Aug. 13. The next MOSI Skywatch events, free nights of stargazing through their powerful telescopes out by the butterfly garden, are Aug. 21 and Sept. 25. The museum is at 4801 E Fowler Ave. in Tampa. Other stargazing options include Sci-Fi and Sky Night at 6 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Science Center of Pinellas County, 7701 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. You'll see the new "Hubble Vision" planetarium show, a presentation by Louise Kleba from NASA at 7 p.m. and telescope viewing.
Staff writers Sherry Robinson and Sharon Kennedy Wynne write for the Whoa, Momma! blog at tampabay.com/blogs/moms. Follow them on Twitter at twitter.com/whoamomma.