For many children, summer is a season of boredom. As much as we like to think of those long, hot days as idyllic and wonderful, most kids spend their summers tuned into a TV or computer, not doing all the fun stuff that their parents had hoped they would do. Season-long summer camps tend to be expensive, as do memberships to museums, zoos, and other attractions, so it can be hard for parents on a budget to provide their kids with enough fun and productive entertainment. If you’re trying to find a way to kill time this season, here are ten fun and affordable summertime activities for kids.
1. Hit the library.
There’s so much more than just books! Your local library probably offers free programs for kids of all ages, from story times for younger kids to book clubs for teens. There are also likely days for art, crafts, and music. Check out your local library’s website to see what they offer.
2. Go camping!
This is a really fun way to spend a summer evening with your kids, and it’s also very affordable compared to fancy vacations. Want to cut out costs entirely? Camp in the back yard, of course! Make sure you build a fire (safely!) and roast marshmallows for s’mores.
3. Make popsicles.
Homemade popsicles are a fun, refreshing, and cheap way to pass time on a summer afternoon. Try any of dozens of recipes, from lemonade or apple sauce to pudding or yogurt. And you can always add bits of cookie, fresh fruit, or gummies. Your kids will enjoy making them almost as much as they’ll enjoy eating them.
4. Put on a sock puppet show.
Everybody has socks that they never use anymore, either because the socks are stained, or have holes, or because they lost their matches long ago. Go ahead and empty out that drawer of socks and grab a few buttons and some paint. You can easily spend a whole afternoon making the puppets with your kids and then watching them put on a show.
5. Make Perler bead art.
Perler beads (sometimes called “melty beads”) are an inexpensive craft item and a great way to spend a summer day… or many! You simply place these in whatever pattern or shape you want on a peg board (about a dollar at your local craft store) and then use an iron the melt the beads together. Tip: get some cheap magnets to glue to the back so your kids’ masterpieces can go on the fridge.
6. Sell fresh lemonade!
What child hasn’t wanted to run a lemonade stand in the summer? Help your child set up a stand in your front yard, complete with posters, a collection jar, and lots of disposable cups, and squeeze fresh lemonade while your child peddles it out. Your kids are likely to turn a surprising profit, and the investment isn’t much at all!
7. Decorate shopping bags.
Canvas shopping bags are only a dollar or two each, and even cheaper if you get them in a larger pack. They’re not only green, but they also make a fun, affordable summer activity for kids. Get out the paints and markers and let your kids enjoy decorating your grocery bags.
8. Paint a flower pot.
You’ve probably got at least one (or ten) clay flower pots that are going unused, and if not, you can buy them for a very low price. Let your kids decorate these with acrylic paint. Later, if you want, your kids can complete their masterpieces by getting their very own plants to keep in the pots!
9. Paint rocks.
This activity is so dirt-cheap that it’s often overlooked by parents looking for ways to entertain their kids in the summertime, but don’t skip this one! Grab some nice, smooth rocks-there may even already be some in your yard-and let your children paint them. Any size or shape of rock works and there are limitless possibilities for what you can do with them.
10. Create bird feeders.
This one never gets old! It’s more commonly done as a winter craft, but bird feeders are even more fun in the summer, when our little feathered friends are out in greater numbers. Cover a pine cone with peanut butter and roll it in bird seed, then hang it near your front door. Your kids will love it, and the total cost is very low.
Summer doesn’t have to be a time of boredom. Kids need and deserve to spend these precious months engaged in enjoyable activities that promote creativity, thought, and fine motor skills. Productive activities for kids can be cheap or even free, so there’s no reason to skip out on these fun activities.
What’s your favorite way to pass the time with your kids in the summer?