Father’s Day is about spending quality (and quantity) time with dad. Keep kids productively busy, actively learning by Involving them in holiday planning. Here are free or cheap activities, crafts and games the littlest of children can do with daddy.
* Cook dad’s favorite meal. Plan a menu with children. Get their input. Even little ones can help peel carrots, wash lettuce, frost cupcakes, set the table, mash potatoes (a favorite task still, hotly contested by our 16 and 22 year-old kids!)
* Hike. Fill a backpack with binoculars, a field guide, insect spray, snacks. Wander the woods or meadow.
* Picnic. Bring a portable grill to a park pavilion, playground or beach. Make easy grilled burgers or roast hot dogs over a fire. I still remember oldest daughter at 20 months helping shuck corn for supper.
* Fish. Dad and his little fisherfolks can enjoy the thrill for reeling in the big one. Even baby can have her own toy fishing pole! Prepare the catch of the day.
* Play badminton, croquet, lawn games.
* Visit the zoo. Many have special Father’s Day family specials.
* Mini-golf. Too expensive? Make your own. For sticks, glue pill bottles to the end of a dowel rod. Bust out the recycling and have kids design creative themes and course configurations.
* Cool down. Set out buckets of water. Instead of water balloons that might hurt, lob wet sponges. Rinse recycled squirt and spray bottles and made DIY water pistols (good alternative to guns).
* Stage silly contests: watermelon seed spitting, homemade bucket bonanza, limbo contests, bubble blowing contests. Award prizes: books, frisbee, balls, water toys. Make rules flexible to match age.
* Invite grandparents over for a cookout.
* Visit shut-in family. I fondly remember bringing our children to the nursing home to see Grandpa when he couldn’t get out. Teach little ones to honor older relatives.
* Crown dad “king for the day.” Make him put his feet up and lounge. Wait on him. Keep the baby busy making a diadem for papa.
* Create a Father’s Day banner on a roll of heavy paper towel. Or cut large triangles and have each child decorate. Hang flag style from yarn. Everyone signs and pets stamp their paw prints.
* Design cards for daddy. Have children write letters or dictate to you if they can’t write yet. Or print one from my article on free printable Father’s Day cards.
* Make a game out of cleaning the garage to surprise dad.
* Color dad a huge Father’s Day card on your sidewalk with chalk (here’s a homemade sidewalk chalk recipe from Martha Stewart).
* Take a family bike ride.
* Play softball, soccer, kickball or flag football. Very simple rules for little ones.
* Use permanent marker to make a T-shirt for dad. Trace children’s hand prints and write names, ages and date. My husband treasures the one we made him 15 years ago!
* Play ‘”Keep Away” or “Take” as our then-3-year-old eldest son called it.
No need to spend any money this Father’s Day, to show dad how much you love him!