School is out for the summer. Now what? Here are 20 Low Cost Activities to Do with Your Kids This Summer!
This is a question most parents face every year. Trying to entertain your children 24/7 for two months can be daunting.
No matter what you try to do or plan, they will inevitably say at least once (or in my case 100 times!) "I'm BORED!" The key is to keep some sort of a routine and plan, plan, plan.And then have a Plan B!
Murphy's Law will always give you a rainy day the one time you plan to go to the beach. Try allotting 30 minutes before the start of each week to schedule in some fun activities for the week ahead; and don't forget to get their input.
Kids are more likely to get up out of bed, ready to start the day when they know what's coming instead of plopping down in front of the television watching cartoons, sitcoms or playing video games.
Use it as a guide. It gives them (and you) something to look forward to. If you're going out for the day, enlist a specific job for each person, this way they're more vested into the days events and gives them something to be responsible for.
- Monday-Local Beach/Pool/Lake (pack towels, sunscreen, water shoes, floatation devices, etc)
- Tuesday-Bowling (pack socks)
- Wednesday-Doctor appointment (don't forget those yearly physicals!)
- Thursday-Movie (pack a light jacket, sweater or sweatshirt in case it's too cold inside)
- Friday-Kids in the kitchen (have them pick out the menu or choose which food to purchase)
20 Low Cost Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer
1. Bowling. With KidsBowlFree.com, registered kids get two free games of bowling every day all summer long. Click on the link to find a participating bowling alley in your area. Shoe rentals are an additional cost.
2. Visit a Museum. Check out the Smithsonian. They have virtual kids programs all summer long including art, history and culture games and activities.
3. Home improvement workshops. Home Depot has in store and virtual workshops. They have also teamed up with Discovery Central to offer Science Fair Central where they can learn and create scientific and engineering ideas. Lowes offers beginning workshop kits that can be assembled at home.
4. Free Movie Program. Cinemark offers a Summer Movie Clubhouse for a reduced rate of $1.50 per movie for 8 weeks at participating locations. If your theatre isn't on the list, check with them to see if they offer reduced rates during off-peak hours for kids. Many show older films during these times. It's a nice way to cool off the kids on a hot summer day!
5. Kids in the Kitchen. Kids LOVE to be in the kitchen. Go to your local farm stand or market, have them pick out a new food to try or recreate one of their favorite dishes. Let them be the chef and help them out where needed depending on their age. You can also check out your local township, restaurants or college to see if they offer Summer classes too.
6. Scavenger Hunt. I used to love these when I was younger. You can either hide specific items yourself or look around the area for items that are already there for kids to find. Stay local in your backyard or neighborhood or venture out to your local park.
7. Ice or Roller Skating. Rates are around $10/pp (depending on age) for a 1-1 ½ hour open skating session (skates not included). It's great exercise and fun, but be sure to bring a helmet and safety pads for those elbows and knees!
8. Go on a Picnic. It's fun to eat a meal on a blanket outdoors and gives the kids a change of scenery. Bring a frisbee or wiffle ball and bat for some entertainment.
10. Water Fun. Don't have a pool, lake or beach at your disposal? Turn on the sprinklers and run through them, squirt each other with the hose or fill up balloons and have a water balloon fight!
11. Local sports and activities programs. Check out your local parks and recreation department for offerings. Many have free or nominal fees for sports, arts, culinary instruction, etc. for kids.
12. Free tours. Ask your local television station, hospital, fire house, vet or pet groomer, supermarket, sports stadium, etc. to give you a tour of their facility. They may offer such tours individually or in groups, so bring some friends along for a fun outing.
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13. Pictures/Scrapbooking. Do you have albums of pictures nestled away from years gone by that your kids haven't seen? Break them out and reminisce over the fun times (and crazy clothes and hairstyles!).
My kids love to look back at their baby pictures from time to time, but generally don't go much further back than the last few years. If you have loose pictures, sort them out by occasion or year and enlist their help in putting them into a photo album or scrapbook.
It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. The key is you're working together and you'll be amazed at how many hours go by once you start digging in!
14. Volunteer. Teach your children the importance of helping others by leading by example. Visit your local animal shelter if they love animals, elder care facility to read or play cards with the elderly, help out at your local church or civic center or Feeding America to help out at your local food bank. You'll feel great knowing you helped someone else!
15. Reading and Library Events. Many libraries offer free summer reading events where the children read a certain number of books; then get rewards or prizes. You can also purchase workbooks or flash cards to work on during down times.
16. Computer Camp. Apple offers a Youth Program where they offer Apple Camp for kids ages 8-12. They will learn how to shoot their own footage, create an original song in GarageBand on an iPad, and put it all together in iMovie on a Mac.
This free workshop, held at the Apple Store, spans three days and ends with campers debuting their masterpieces at the Apple Camp Film Festival.
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17. Online Education. I'm not recommending that they spend hours on the computer each day, but computers do offer a wealth of information and learning capabilities, especially if it's a rainy day. Most websites break out their site by age group so click on the one that is most appropriate for your child.
18. Concerts. Many towns offer free or nominal fees for local music concerts. Grab a blanket, pack a picnic dinner, dance and listen to some new music.
19. Have a Stay-Cation! Does your town have a museum that you drive by every day? Stop in to see what's inside. A local park with hiking trails or row boats? Find out what you've been missing.
Many of us take our local surroundings for granted and there is a wealth of information right outside your door. I for one have lived in NJ for 99% of my life, 40 minutes from NYC and have yet to visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island!
20. Local Sports Club. Check with your local sports club for kid activities. Many have special rates over the summer (i.e. 30 days for $30) where kids can swim or take certain classes where age appropriate.
These are just a few things you can do to keep your kids busy this summer. If they attend a Summer Camp during the day, use this list as a fun weekend guide for the entire family to enjoy the fun.
Enjoy making memories together this summer!