Summer time, and the living is easy…for about the first two weeks. Then the novelty of long, lazy hours wears off and the cry goes up: “We’re bored!” Here are 15 frugal ways to have fun with your kids.
1. Board games. Set up a tournament. Make it “best of three games.” Give prizes. Seek out board games at garage sales and thrift stores and don’t be shy about trying new ones.
2. Make your own board game. So your son is fascinated by army ants? Encourage him to make his own “Invading Ant Army” board game, complete with tokens of his choice, a design of his own invention, and rules he sets.
3. Blow bubbles. You can make your own out of dish soap.
4. Cook something. Don’t worry about the mess and in the worse case scenario, don’t force everyone to eat the inedible. Cook with a purpose, though. Your kids want to contribute.
5. Take them to the grocery store. Again, do this with a purpose. They need to figure out a way to purchase one complete family meal for $2 per person or less. Remind them that a “meal” needs to include protein and a fruit or vegetable-the “Buy One Get One Free” Cheez Puffs don’t count.
6. Go to the planetarium if there’s one in your town.
7. Make up a “fort kit” with a blanket, three cushions or pillows, two sticks, some snack food and whatever else you want to throw in there-get creative. Explain that they are to make a fort that can be used for camping overnight and then let them engineer and scheme to their heart’s content.
8. Spend some time teaching them a practical skill. Sewing, working with tools, home repair, and baking are all skills that will serve your kids well when they grow up.
9. Start a business. What can your kids do to make money? Show them how to draw up a plan for their business and encourage them to get to work.
10. Origami. You’ll find instructions online. Low cost, a nice mental workout, and fun besides.
11. Head to the library. Sure, you know about the story hour for toddlers and the free DVDs, but your public library likely has a lot more to offer. My son grew up playing in the local library’s chess club. Perhaps there are reading circles for teens or reading contests to keep your kids busy when it’s too hot to play outside. Ask the librarian for information.
12. Discover drama. While you’re at the library, get a book or two of plays. Encourage your kids to explore them one scene at a time, working together to assign parts, assemble props, and rehearse. Talk about what they’re reading and compliment them on their dramatic skill.
And one bonus idea:
13. Science fair! Everybody hates the science fair, demanding intensity and huge chunks of time during the busy school year. Perhaps your kids would be interested in doing the main research portion of next year’s science project during the summer? There’s plenty of time for growing stuff, making chemical reactions occur repeatedly, and researching new projects if the original ideas don’t pan out.
There’s no need to dread the “I’m bored” summer doldrums, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to entertain your kids. Enjoy this summer and make memories without breaking the bank.