- 10 Budget-Friendly/Cheap/Free Summertime Activities
Times are tight. We can all agree on that. And we’re watching our pennies more than ever before, that’s for sure.
So what’s a parent to do when it’s summertime and you want to do something a little extra-special with your kids?
Truth be told, kids’ summer activities don’t have to break the bank — and you don’t have to feel guilty about it either. Forget the fancy vacations and weeklong overnight camps if you can’t afford them. There are plenty of budget-friendly summer activities to do that will help make this summer super fun for both your child and you! Here are ten suggestions:
- Get wet. Whether it’s a garden hose, a grass sprinkler, a wading pool (like this Play and Shade Pool from Step2), or a slip-and-slide, there’s nothing more fun for kids on a hot day than donning their bathing suits and cooling off with one of the above. (Bonus: Fill up water balloons at the same time for some extra giggle-inducing fun!)
- Start a lemonade stand. Draw up a budget, make a list of supplies/ingredients needed, and then get started! Just watch your kids’ happy faces as they draw their sign, juice their lemons, and make change for customers. (Bonus: The whole experience is not only fun, but educational as well. It shows exactly what “entrepreneurship” is all about!)
- Go on a safari. In your own backyard or a local park, that is. Buy inexpensive binoculars, notebooks, and colored pencils. Help your kids look for, identify, and draw the interesting birds, butterflies, insects, flowers, and trees that they find. When you’re back home, try to look them up and identify their by name. (Bonus: Then next time, instead of calling it “that yellow, black, red, and white bird,” your child will be calling it by its proper name: a “Common Flicker.”)
- Fly a kite. You’ll, obviously, need a kite (even make your own), lots of string (duh!), and a windy day. Go somewhere where there’s lots of room (a park is ideal) and make sure you turn the kite against the wind, not with it. (Bonus: Your kids will also get some built-in exercise without even realizing it!)
- Attend craft classes. Check out your local craft store, art school, or recreation center. Many offer free or low-cost classes that are a great creative outlet. (Bonus: The crafts can be displayed around the house as a great source of pride!)
- Visit a local botanical garden or state park. Everyone loves nature! Explore the beautiful outdoors. Hike. Bike. Collect rocks. Enjoy a picnic lunch. There’s nothing better than some fresh air and quality time together. (Bonus: A lot of these places have free educational children’s programs, too. Be sure to check them out!)
- Go fishing. If you live near a pond, lake, river, stream, or ocean, it’s always fun to see what you could catch. Either buy (or borrow) a simple rod and reel or use a plain bamboo pole, line, and hook. Dig for worms yourselves, or buy them inexpensively at a bait shop. Just please don’t forget a life vest. (Bonus: This would be the perfect opportunity to teach your kids about conservation, the earth’s resources, and the concept of “catch and release.”)
- Go berry picking. Find a local pick-your-own farm or berry patch. Then bring a gathering basket and watch your kids scavenge for their strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries. They will probably end up eating more than they pick, so first please be sure the berries haven’t been treated with pesticide. (Bonus: Make a healthy fruit salad or berry pie together after you get home!)
- Walk/Run. Pick a local race event for a charity and enroll both yourself and your children. Train for it. Research the cause. And get others to join you, too. (Bonus: It will not only be good exercise, it will also show your kids they can really make a difference by helping others who are less fortunate than them.)
- Put on a circus. Get the neighbors together and plan a day to host your very own neighborhood three-ring circus. Assign tasks to each group of children: juggling, “lion” taming (using someone’s willing dog perhaps?), clowning around, jumping through (hula) hoops, emceeing, making cotton candy, etc. (Bonus: Not only will this activity create a sense of camaraderie and fun event planning among neighbors, but you — and your children — might even make some new friends!)
No doubt about it. Summer activities on a budget can be loads of fun! Try one of my suggestions sometime soon — and let me know what your kids thought about it by leaving me a comment below.
Suggested books on budget-friendly summer activities:
All Summer’s Fun by Daniel Skalak
Summertime in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Summer Fun by Larry Dane Brimner
Green Beans & Tambourines: Over 30 Summer Projects and Activities for Fun-Loving Kids by Jennifer Storey Gillis
Summer Fun: A Book Full of Things to Do in Good Weather by Owl Magazine