Summer is here, which means most kids are on summer vacation. While kids love summer vacation, it can be a pain for Mom and Dad, especially if you have to keep the kids busy all summer long. Sure amusement parks, water parks, movies and professional sports games are fun, but they can be prohibitavely expensive, especially if you have multiple little ones. Don't worry, we have ten suggestions on how to keep the kids busy without spending a fortune.
Play outside: Take the kids outside to play. It seems so obivous, yet how many kids spend their days playing video games or watching TV? Take them to the local park, if you live in a large city see how many city parks you can visit during the summer. Try visiting a new park each summer. Make a playdate with your childrens' friends to visit your local park, giving it a bit of a new flare for them. Take the kids outside to fly a kite, play catch or to play baseball. Most parks have baseball fields where you can play when teams are not using them. If nothing else there is also the old throwback of tossing the ball around the backyard or the alley. If you don't have the proper equipmenet you can pick up gently used sports equipment for cheap at a number of stores, or even yard sales. Even better, taking the kids outside to play tuckers them out, meaning you will have a much quieter evening!
Get Creative: You can get a ton of easy to make (and easy to clean up!) arts and craft projects on the internet. You can find a project that is suited for your child's age and abilities. Invest in a book of construction paper, then use the supplies your little one has left from school (such as crayons, scissors, glue) to make some beautiful projects. The kids can give these as presents to friends and family members afterwards. Or if you want to get really crafty you can hold on to projects to give as Christmas gifts. For example, when I was little I made a "stained glass" vase by pasting squares of colorful tissue paper over old glass jars. A simple project that makes a great gift and keeps the kids entertained for hours. You can also do things like color or draw, and write stories with the kids. I remember playing a game as a child where each person added a new word to the story, the story went around the circle until you had a whole story. Everyone got involved and super excited about this and it got us using our imaginations!
Look for Free Activities: Most local libraries will have some type of free program for kids whether it is a reading hour or a reading rewards program these can be great ways for the kids to meet new friends as well as keeping them busy. Many cities also have free movies in the park, or free admission days at the local museums. Check out your City's website or the community paper to learn about free activities in your area.
Play Games: Have a weekly family game night. Play a new game each week. These can be board games, card games, or family friendly video games. Playing a new game each week keeps things new for everyone and gets the kids excited! If you have multiple kids assign a schedule of who gets to pick the game that night.
Catch a Movie: Many theaters offer kid friendly shows during the summer. These are usually previously released films and show during late morning or early afternoon hours. They are cheaper than going to new releases, and more exciting than watching a DVD at home. Alternatively, if your local theater doesn't have such a program, you can make a theater like experience for the kids with a DVD. Keep it interesting, don't just put a DVD in and leave the room! Let the kids have a say in what movie they want to watch. Pop some popcorn, pick up a few snacks from the grocery store and gather everyone around the tv. Find ways to get the kids interested in the experience, perhaps someone wants to draw pretend movie tickets or serve the popcorn.
Get Cooking: Find some easy to make recipies for the kids to help with. Whether this is sandwiches, cookies or popsicles, there are plenty of recipies out there that the kids will have fun making (and should be easy to clean up!) If the kids have a good time with this have them help you pick out recipies. Present two or three options and let them select what they want. This will also help save money from prepackaged snacks and lunches!
Make a Scavanger Hunt: Who didn't love these as kids? Come up with a list of things the kids can find around the house, the backyard or around your local park. Let them run around for half an hour or so trying to find these items before regrouping. The best part of this idea is you can do this with one kid or multiple. And you can do it over and over with different items on the list. You could turn this into a treasure hunt by hiding items and writing down clues for the kids.
Assemble Something: A puzzle. A model airplane. There are plenty of models you can buy at your local Michael's or other craft store. Models and puzzles will keep the kids busy for hours, and leave them with something fun to show for all their work. There are lots of craft kids available at most stores as well, meaning there is no end to what your childrten can make this summer!
Get Wet: Water balloons, water guns, spray bottles and the hose are all great ways for the kids to get wet without spending a fortune. Make up different games with the water balloons, such as who can go longest without popping the balloon. Of course kiddie pools, community pools and the beach are all fun options if available. If not, don't worry, the kids can still have fun, get wet and stay cool!
Make things up: Encourage your kids to use their imaginations. Make a tent in the living room out of sheets and chairs, go to space in an old refrigerator box! Show your kids some of your favorite ways to play when you were little. Make up games with things around the house. Kids already have the ability to see the world differently from adults, so help them come up with different stories about objects. Help them pretend play, and join in with them sometimes! Your kids will love being in charge of their own little world!
What do you do to keep your kids entertained? Any tips on how to keep them busy and happy without spending a fortune, let us know!
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