Every day, my daughter asks me, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She still has two more weeks of preschool but I can only imagine how often I’m going to get that question once school finally comes to an end.
It can be a challenge keeping kids busy in the summer; kids like to be busy! There are tons of amusement parks that we like to visit but that can put a serious dent in your budget, so I thought I’d put together a few ideas that cost nothing – other than maybe putting some gas in your car.
1: Catch a free movie
Last year we saw a free movie outside at a local college. The kids had a blast! Many towns also do free outdoor movies in parks, so be sure to check out your area town websites for event dates. Also check out the dollar days at Regal Movie theaters, a portion of the proceeds go to charity.
2: Visit a free zoo or museum
There are tons of places that run on the generosity of the general public, and/or are subsidized by the government. You pay your taxes, so take advantage of the freebies. This year we plan on visiting the Cape May Zoo. It’s completely free and we have yet to go.
3: Invite friends over for a playdate
This is probably Emma’s favorite thing to do and it’s free. Invite a few friends over to run in the sprinklers, do a craft or play in the yard while the moms relax.
4: Host an Alex’s Lemonade Stand
This one is double-good. It’s a great way to keep kids occupied while encouraging them to give to others. Philanthropy should be taught at an early age. You can order a kit for free!
5: Visit the library or bookstore
Many have free story-time or craft events, or just grab a few books and have your own reading session.
6: Spend the day at the beach, lake or park!
We’re fortunate enough to live about a half hour or so from the beach, where we spend most of our time in the summer. We like to pack lunch and have a picnic – bring plenty of water! Whatever you have at your disposal, get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. You can also find free US National Park days and plan accordingly.
7. Create art or craft
My kids love to get messy with paint and play-doh. Summer is the only time of year that I never say no to art because we can take it outside which means minimal cleanup. You can always rinse them off with the hose! On a rainy day you can make crayon shapes or make jewelry.
8. Go on a nature hunt
One of my favorite past times as a kid was collecting and playing with bugs, especially lightning bugs. Kids can also find sticks, pinecones and other things from nature. You can turn a fun activity into a learning lesson. I love the idea of creating temporary art from things in nature.
9. Go Fishing
This is another activity on our list for this summer. Emma really wants to learn how to fish.
10. Get your gardening gloves on
The kids love helping me plant, water and harvest. I have been wanting to make a fairy garden and I think the kids would love that.
Originally published May 20, 2014