“I’m bored.” “There’s nothing to do!” “Can we go to the… (insert high priced attraction here)”. Keeping kids entertained during the summer without going broke in the process is a challenge. Sure, you can just let them stream videos and play games to their heart’s content, but there should be more to summer than screen time. Here are some of our favorite cheap or free summer activities for kids.
Backyard Water Park
You could take on the parking, crowds and $5 bottles of water at the water park. Or, you can set up your own in the backyard for a fraction of the price and let your kids have even more fun. Turn on the sprinklers, set up a slip n’ slide, stock up on squirt guns and water balloons and let the kids go to town wearing themselves out splashing and sliding around.
Hit the Library
Make your local library a weekly destination during the summer. Of course, kids can find all their favorite books, but libraries now offer so much more. Music, movies, and even e-books are available to check out at many libraries. Most also have kids’ summer reading programs, with prizes for achieving certain goals. Additionally, libraries host a number of special events, including story times, afternoon movies and music performances. If nothing else, it’s a great place to go for a change of scene, and you get to enjoy some good AC in a quiet environment.
Once the yard has dried out from the water activities, turn it into a mini campground. Set up a tent, fill it with pillows and sleeping bags and you’ve got an instant hang-out that’s way cooler than being cooped up inside. When night falls, barbecue hot dogs on the grill, make s’mores and tell ghost stories before lights out. It’s all the fun of camping, with the safety, security and amenities of home just a few steps away.
Retro Game Night
Take kids back to a time when “playing a game” meant being face-to-face with other people sitting around a game board instead of hunched over a screen with earbuds in. You can’t go wrong with classics like Yahtzee, Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, UNO and Trivial Pursuit (or whatever your own childhood favorites were). Even the most reluctant, die-hard techie will get sucked into the spirit of fun competition created by these old-school gems.
How many times have your kids asked to do an art project, only to lose interest by the time you locate and compile all the supplies? Be ready when that spark of creativity happens by setting up a craft corner. Choose an area in the house, on the patio or in the garage and set up a small table with arts and crafts supplies: construction paper, paints and brushes, glue sticks, glitter (if you dare), popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, colored chalk and whatever else strikes your young artist’s fancy. Having everything in one place, ready to go, means they can sit down and start creating the moment they feel inspired.