Summer is one of the best times to be a kid, but as a parent it can be full of whining, spending, and stressing about the kids. Every suggestion seems to cost large amounts of money these days and budget may not have the stretch to do it all. I have listed some ideas that are either free or very close to being free for you to entertain your children, and possibly even teach them something.
Inside days- Maybe it is too hot or rainy to go outside one day, here are a few indoor activities.
1. Science experiments can be fun if they are interesting for kids. Get a thick paper plate, put a small amount of milk in it (enough to cover the bottom of the plate), drop a few drops of food color onto the milk in different areas of the plate. Now add a few drops of dish soap to the plate, and prepare to be amazed. You can talk with the kids about why this happened or have them explore on the internet (with your guidance why). Have your kids try to build a way to protect an egg when you drop it off the roof of your house and not let it break, try a new idea once a week, even when the eggs break the kids laugh and learn. There are many more science ideas like this on the internet, sites such as YouTube and Pinterest are the best bets.
2. Legos are most likely already in your house if you have younger children. You can teach math and entertain the kids by asking them to build something with a certain number of blocks, or at a certain angle or shape. One website I saw had index cards with Lego designs drawn on them by mom and kids had to create them in timed trials.
3. Build a fort. Grab old blankets/sheets/towels, kitchen chairs and clips or rubber bands (or hair bands if you have them) and create a fort in their bedroom or the living room. Everything is more fun in a fort, just ask any kid.
Outside days- Get outside, it is summer after all
1. Nature activities- make a list of items your kids could find near your house or at a local park and make a bingo like sheet or a scavenger hunt to make outdoors more exciting for your kids. Some are found online so you do not even need to think them up, already done.
2. Plant a garden- kids like to play in the dirt and organic food is really expensive. This way you can kill two birds with one proverbial stone. Find a small area of your yard and have the kids dig it up, choose some seeds from the store and explain it is their responsibility to grow and watch over their plants. Your local store can tell you what grows well in your area, and if your kids grew it maybe they are more likely to eat it too. You can also experiment with a compost pile depending on your yard size and commitment level, kids are great help there.
3. Home Olympics. Maybe you have multiple children or a neighborhood full of kids, create a series of events for the kids to compete in for prizes like popsicles or awards. You can have bike races, egg tosses, water games, or any activity you can think of and make it a day or a few days. Make the kids plan the games for even less work from you.
4. Have a picnic. Something about eating outside on a blanket makes it more fun. For added excitement, take your picnic to a local park. which bring me to the next section…
Away from the house days- some days those 4 walls just close in and the kids need to get out.
1. Check your local community for activities. Some areas have great summer programs that are free or very cheap, if you have no idea where to start, call you local chamber of commerce or city officials, they can point the way to fun ideas.
2. Local library events. Hopefully your children already like to read, but even if they do not libraries have many different programs over the summer. Our local library even has Lego days, story days, reading for prizes to water parks and other fun activities.
3. Local parks. Maybe you have a specific park you bring your kids to very often, try visiting new parks for them to explore. You can also explore your local state parks for fishing, swimming, hiking, nature walking and more. Most states have an annual pass and you can visit them all for a small fee.
I hope some of these ideas got you thinking about fun and cheap ways to entertain your kids this summer. Most children lose large bodies of knowledge over the summer try to find a way to teach them new ideas in a fun and budget friendly way. Have fun and keep a balanced budget!