Posted on 6.23.11 at 11:01 pm
If your kids are home with you during the summer you probably are always searching for something fun to do with the kids. Finding inexpensive or free activities is not always easy. If you aren’t careful, you can spend a lot of money each week just trying to keep them entertained. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite free/cheap things I like to do with the kids to keep us busy during the hot summer days.
1) Play dates. I usually schedule at least one play date a week. More can be stressful so I stick to one. The playdate usually involves inviting one school friend over to play for the afternoon or to swim. I find that adding even one friend to the mix creates a totally different dynamic between my three kids. They seem to get along beautifully and the kids stay busy. Free!
2) Trip to the library. Browsing through books, playing on the library computers, and the kids corners can give your kids a couple hours of fun time (and some good reading time for you too!). Your local library probably has story time play or arts and crafts so check their summer schedules. You can also check with your local Books-a-Million to see if and when they host their weekly story time. When we go to BAM, I always tell my kids that we are not buying a thing just so I don’t walk out of there $45.o0 worth of books later. Free!
3) Vacation Bible School. This is my favorite of the bunch. VBSs are not just great experiences for the kids but also cheap! The cost will run you about $5.00-$20.00 per child for the entire week for your typical 9am-12pm program. I usually only do one a summer but I think this summer we’ll do two.
4) Lemonade stand. You probably won’t do this every week but the kids will really enjoy it. We make signs on poster board, make a trip to the grocery store to buy the lemons, then we set up shop at the corner of the street. This usually takes a couple of hours and the kids have a blast. We did one last week and my daughter made a $7.50! She was beyond ecstatic!! Costs about $5.00-$7.00 per stand for lemons, lemonade mix, and sign.
5) Visit Krispy Kreme. What’s better than a Glazed Hot-n-Ready Donut? Getting a dozen for free and watching them being made! We had a quiet day earlier this week and I remembered I had a coupon for free dozen donuts. We loaded up the care and drove to our nearest Krispy Kreme. I was not in a rush to get back home so we went in (instead of the drive through) and I was surprised to find that it was like a donut factory/museum! We saw donut making in the works, the kids each received bakers hats, and before I knew it, my kids each ate 3 donuts each (I was obviously in a good mood and not paying attention.
6) Visit a Farmers Market. The farmers market is a great place to buy fresh fruits and veggies, desserts, or enjoy the art of local artists. You never know what you will find each week. You can also eat a pretty inexpensive lunch at the market.
7) The gym! Most gyms offer a kids corner that offers a great indoor playground, especially on a rainy day. If you don’t belong to a local gym, you can usually find great summer deals. If you already belong to a gym, you can usually add your kids to your membership for about $5.00 a visit. Not a bad deal especially when you consider the time you’ll get to yourself! If you are like me, nothing better than breaking up the day with a stop to the gym!
8) Gardening. Planting seeds, watering your plants, taking care of them- what a great way to teach your kids how to care for something and stay involved outside. You can also end the gardening with sprinkle time with the hose.
9) Cooking. My kids enjoy helping me cook. Whether its pancake, making pizza, or a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s a great way to get your kids off the couch and in the kitchen. And not surprisingly so, the kids usually find that the food tastes “soooo delicious” when they make it themselves.
10) Fishing. My favorite thing to do with the kids when the weather is nice. Once you make the initial investment of buying some poles and tackle, you won’t have to spend much more. You can use corn, bread, or uncooked chicken for bait. But if you really want to catch fish, you can purchase enough shrimp bait for a good couple of hours of fishing for about $3.00.
11) Movies. A trip to the movies for a family of our four or five can cost an arm and a leg these days. Thankfully there are usually some great deals in the summer. One of our local theaters offers $5.00 movies each Sunday and a free matinée on an oldie but goodie movie each month. Check your listings for details.
12) Museums. My kids never get tired of the museums but I’ll admit, I do get tired of going only because we don’t live too close. The trip is usually well worth it since museums offer great programs for the kids. We went to a train exhibit not too long ago and both my boys absolutely loved it.
13) Bowling. I just found out that one of the bowling alleys here offers a family summer pass for $25.00 for the entire summer. What??!! Sign.Us.UP! Even if you don’t find this great deal, you can usually get a deal on family bowling night where kids bowl free.