Summer vacation is not far off. Finding things your kids will enjoy doing is a challenge parents face every summer. Here is a list of 20 fun and (mostly) free things you can do with your kids this summer!
I looked at the calendar this morning and realized Zoe has two weeks of school left. Thanks to almost zero snow days she is out of school the beginning of May. While summer vacation means no more morning alarms or morning rush, it also means I will be hearing “I’m bored” a lot. I’ve got to come up with things we can do that fight off the I-no-longer-have-a-daily-routine boredom. I’ve come up with 20 things everyone can do with their kids that are both fun and entertaining, but also mostly free.
Free Things You Can Do With Your Kids This Summer
1. Go on a photo walk. Give your kids one of your old cell phones and go for a walk around your neighborhood. Let them take pictures of anything they find interesting. You can transfer them to your computer or upload them online using WiFi. Kids have a different perspective on things and sometimes they turn out to be surprisingly great photographers.
2. Have a picnic in your backyard. Kids get tired of eating the same thing for lunch day after day. But if you take it outside, the same ole peanut butter and jelly sandwich magically becomes exciting and new! If it’s too hot, or raining, even having the picnic on the living room floor is fun because it’s eating somewhere different.
3. Have a water balloon fight. Save this one for the days it’s really hot outside. Kids will think it’s hilarious to get mom and dad wet with water balloons. Your clothes will dry, but this will be a fun memory the kids will talk about for a long time to come.
4. Have ice cream for dinner. Who says you can’t have ice cream for dinner? Ok, it’s not a good idea to do it every night, but once in a while it’s a fun treat. You can do a sundae bar at home, or you can go to a local ice cream stand.
5. Go watch a baseball game. There are little league and adult league baseball games happening all summer. They’re free to watch, so you don’t have to stay for the whole game. There’s just something about baseball and summer that go together.
6. Visit a firehouse. Did you know you can call your local fire department and schedule a tour? Your kids can see where the firemen live, and see the trucks up close. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, and it’s educational. But don’t tell the kids.
7. Pet rocks. You can gather rocks while on your photo walk, or you can buy rocks at a craft store. Let the kids paint their rocks and name them. They could have an entire pet rock community by the end of the summer.
8. Catch a movie. During the summer months some movie theaters offer afternoon showing of kids movies for free or deeply discounted prices. If your local theater doesn’t, why not check out some kids movies from the library and make popcorn at home. You can set up chairs in rows like they have at the theater and put blankets over the windows so it’s dark.
9. Check out your local public library. Libraries often offer free reading clubs during the summer months for kids of all ages.
10. Paint your own canvas sneakers. Pick up a cheap pair at the dollar store, and decorate them with fabric paint and sequins.
11. Kool-Aid floats. Did you know that vanilla ice cream tastes great in strawberry, cherry or orange Kool-Aid? And there is less sugar that in soft drinks.
12. Make a blanket fort. Blanket forts are the best and truly under appreciated. Spend the day reading books in the blanket fort instead of watching television or playing video games.
13. Have a dance party. Seriously having a dance party can chase away boredom in a flash. Even if it’s only a 30 second dance party, being silly and moving around shakes everything up and changes perspective. It will also incite lots of giggles too
14. Blow bubbles. Much like a dance party, there is something magical about bubbles floating in the air and the laughter of kids trying to catch them. I dare you to blow bubbles and not laugh. It’s impossible. Also, you can blow bubbles in the bathtub during bath time. Kids love the unexpected surprise of bubbles in the house.
15. Wash the car. Sure it’s not going to be perfect, and it doesn’t sound like fun as an adult. But the kids will get a kick out of washing the car. Then you can go out for ice cream and take it through the car wash.
16. Make collages. Gather up old magazines and let the kids cut out pictures and glue them to construction paper or poster board.
17. Go to the Zoo. We are lucky that the St. Louis Zoo is free. But other zoos across the country offer free days during the summer months. Check out the website of your local zoo and see when their free days are.
18. Museums Museums also offer free days during summer months, and it’s worth checking out their website to see when they are.
19. Go to the playground School playgrounds are a lot more fun when you aren’t in school. Going back to play in the evening, or during the summer makes the playground a whole new place when there aren’t teachers reminding you that recess doesn’t last forever
20. Make sock puppets. Have the kids make sock puppets with stretched out lost-its-mate socks. Then they can put on a puppet show for you.
I have tried to limit the number of things that include screen time and come up with things that get you and the kids out of the house, or gets them thinking outside the box. Sometimes the most routine things can be made exciting just by changing the location or time. Breakfast tastes so good for dinner because it’s the “wrong” time. Ice cream for dinner is exciting because, well, it’s ice cream.