Free or Frugal Summer Activities

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again already. How in the world did another school year pass us by already? Unbelieveable! My twins’ preschool  just wrapped up, so I’ve gotten a bit more time with just my lil’ sidekicks. My older kids get out on June 10th and I am trying to prepare myself to have the whole clan here 24/7.  Not that I don’t adore my children, I’ve just gotten used to 3 of them being in school 5 days a week. Summer is a whole different ballgame altogether. So, in preparation, I am attempting to put together a list of things to do with my kiddos to keep them busy. Last week I posted my first giveaway, a cute little half-apron that I had made. The only stipulation for entering is that you had to tell me what a favorite fun, free, or frugal summertime activity your family enjoys. A big congrats to Erin Harper, who won the apron. She also happens to be my sweet neighbor! Here are some of the answers I received from participants:

*My favorite free activity is running.  I get to exercise my mind, body & soul while enjoying God’s beautiful creation!

*Our favorite free summer thing to do is go to the park and play in the creek. We spend hours looking for crayfish and salamanders and catching fish with our little nets ! It is also nice when its hot out because the water is cool !  Its so much fun and totally exhausting for the kids ! (My family actually did this yesterday with a group from cub scouts and they had an absolute blast.)

*Fav summertime activity is reading a book outside under the shade of my tree and eating picnics outside (I know I cheated and gave two but they are both my favorite!).

*My fav summer activity…..hmmm….just one??  I would have to say packing a picnic and going to a favorite spot like a park!!  There is something great about eating outdoors on a blanket!!!

Now, here is a list that I’ve compiled so far. All of these activities are either free or very inexpensive to do. Many are ones that we’ve actually done or are planning to do this year:

1. Go on a nature hike. Take along a magnifying glass, paper bag, jar,  maybe an identification book. Not only is it good exercise, but everyone learns a bit more about the world around them.

2. VBS! I don’t know many (if any) kids who don’t love going to a fun vacation Bible school. They play games, make crafts, have snacks, do memory verses, win prizes, and most importantly, learn about God.

3. Go to the library. You know that one’ s free! Many libraries offer story hours, workshops, craft times, and other free, educational activities throughout the summer. Last summer we participated in the Summer Reading Program and earned tons of free tickets to local attractions. Plus, cultivating a love of reading can’t be beat.

4. Visit different Farmer’s Markets or Flea Markets. Kids get to experience a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. (This one is near and dear to my heart–I worked at a farmer’s market stand and that is where I met my husband! He still manages a meats stand at a farmer’s market.)

5. Parks. National, State, or Local. Anywhere you live there is bound to be a park not too far away. Many have playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and so on. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a beautiful day out in nature.

6. Adopt a Project. A service project, that is. You need not look far to spot an opportunity to serve in some way. Find one that your family is passionate about and dive in.

7. Garden. I am not the best green thumb, but we have our kids help out at my in-laws’ garden and farm. They have helped plant, weed, pick, and then can or freeze the fruits of their labor. Did I also mention that they all (yes, all 5 of them) love most fruits and veggies? Another good option is to go berry picking.

8. Read. If it were up to my oldest 2, I think they could sit and read all day long. They are such bookworms, they even stand and read at the bus stop. Have your kids start a Book Club or read aloud a series together. A couple of years ago I had the joy of reading the entire “Little House” series to my kids and we actually just started reading it again. There are tons of options out there and it keeps those little minds active.

9. Start a collection. It could be almost anything, from rocks to shells to baseball cards.

10. Make your own Ice Cream. There are tons of make your own ice cream recipes out there, some that make an individual serving in a baggie. Kick it up a notch by having a Make Your Own Sundae Party afterwards with whatever ingredients/toppings you have on hand.

11. Write & Illustrate a Book. You’ve gotta keep those skills up! It’s amazing how quickly all that info they learn in school goes out the window once summer starts. It can be as simple as some lined paper stapled together with your child’s writing and pictures to go along with.

12. Scavenger Hunt. I have been known to write a list of things to find, give the kids a paper bag, and let them have at it. Usually mine are for outside but you can also do an indoor one on a rainy day. (If your kids are pre-readers, draw pictures of what they have to find.)

13. Watercolor Paint. Set up a table outside, give everyone their own set of paints, some water, and brushes. Make sure you have an area to dry their artwork!

14. Bubbles and Sidewalk Chalk.

15. Hit the Movie Theater. Many movie theaters around the country offer $1 matinee movies during the summer, usually on one or two particular days of the week.

16. Start a Business. Have your kids devise a business plan of some kind and have them give it a go. Right now my two older boys have a paper on our fridge with a plan for their S’mores business (S’mores donuts anyone?). It can be as simple as a lemonade stand or bake stand, but planning for supplies, production (or service), and pricing is good for those math skills. People skills too.

17. Build a Fort. This doesn’t have to involve wood and nails! It can be anything from sheets and pillows to old boxes. Give them recycled materials to make their own furnishings as well. Creativity is a good thing, even though it’s a bit messy. (I have to accept the fact that my house will NOT stay clean for any length of time for the next couple months.)

18. Game Night. No, not video games. Real board games and card games.

19. Campout. You don’t have to rent a camping space, though they are usually pretty cheap as well. Your own backyard or even your basement will do nicely. We have a little firepit in our backyard and our crew LOVES to make hot dogs or S’mores outside.

20. Trade Kids for a day. Put your heads together with a good friend or neighbor. Take their kids for a day at your house and have some organized activities, then trade and she can take yours for a day.

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