Summer can be full of exciting things, but it can also be a time for kids to start whining about being bored. When that happens, here are some fun (and cheap!) summer ideas.
1. Library reading programs (and other activities). Every library that we’ve lived near has had a kids’ summer reading program. And our current library also has extra kids’ activities each month! From storytimes to free movies to Lego building competitions, your library probably does too. Get the kids signed up to read and pick up a few good books while you check out the calendar at yours.
2. Backyard swimming pool/hose/sprinkler. Whatever kind of water play you go for, kids will spend hours running around in it. We like to fill our kiddie pool and pop it in the shade beneath a tree, and the kids have fun playing with containers from the recycling and splashing each other.
3. Bucket and a paintbrush to paint with water. Speaking of water play, if you aren’t in the mood for kids to get soaked, just give them a cup of water and a paintbrush. They can paint whatever pictures they want on the driveway, the side of the car, or even on the house! And once it dries, you won’t be able to tell. (Unless of course, your van is really dusty, and they write a message in the dust. Then you can tell.)
4. Sidewalk chalk. My kids go through tons of this in the summer. They love drawing pictures. Currently I have a blue blob next the front door and a Lego Batman in the driveway.
5. Read the World Book Club or Dollar Store Day Camp or create-your-own-theme. Whether you use someone else’s plan or come up with your own, having weekly units can be a fun basis for activities, art projects, and even a little bit of learning! Some kids crave structure and routine, and this is a way to include a bit of school-type activities without overwhelming the break time.
6. Have kids cook something on their own or learn a kitchen skill. Last summer my boys each took a turn baking a cake all on their own. They measured and mixed the ingredients, poured the batter into the pan, and decorated once it was cooled off. All I did was deal with the oven. If your kids aren’t ready to cook through a recipe on their own, how about working on a specific skill? Older kids can pick a Real Food How To lesson, and younger kids could work on something like cutting up fruit or peeling potatoes.
7. Park playdates. Sometimes you just need to get out of the house. Meet up with friends at your favorite park and let the kids run around for awhile! They’ll come up with all sorts of games (hot lava pirate ship, anyone?) and you’ll get a chance to chat with actual grown-ups.
8. Free community events. Every town has something going on in the summer. Festivals, fairs, free concerts, Farmers’ Markets, parades, you name it. You can probably find something fun to do almost every week if you check out your community calendar. So far this summer we’ve gone to the Home Depot kids’ builds every month, a Childrens’ Fair at the park, the 4th of July parade (it was on the 2nd of July but who’s counting?), and a couple library events. But I’ve heard about several other things that we just haven’t had time for yet.
9. Bubbles. Like sidewalk chalk, my kids love bubbles. If only Elizabeth would stop dumping them out all the time (toddler problems). Buy some for cheap, or make your own!
10. Vacation Bible School. Whether you attend church or not, chances are at least one church in your town is running a VBS program. Your kids can hang out with other kids, do a craft project, and learn a little bit about Jesus while you run errands. Or maybe there’s even a program for the whole family! VBS is a great summer activity, and one we try to do every year.
What cheap or free summer fun have you found?