Most kids have wrapped up their school year and as a parent, I know it can be quite I’m sure the challenge to think of ways to keep your kids entertained throughout the summer while not draining the bank account in the process.
There are always summer camps and other activities, but the cost of going somewhere every day can really begin to add up. That’s why I decided to channel my inner-child and write out a list of twenty free activities you can do with your kids this summer. While not every activity listed applies to every age group, I encourage you to use this list as inspiration to think outside of the box when planning your summer family outings on a budget.
1. Check out the Cincinnati Public Library. They have a variety of free programs for different age levels. For more information about the programs they offer, you can check out their website here.
2. Speaking of the library, consider checking out books with kid-friendly DIY projects and let the kids choose a project from the book(s).
3. Check out local different parks in the area. Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have beautiful parks. Wouldn’t it be fun to visit a different one each week? Pack a lunch, have a picnic and check out this list of local parks here.
4. Take a nature walk and bring along a camera and journals. Then the next day, have the kids make nature scrapbooks, writing about what they saw, identifying the pictures, etc.
5. A spin-off idea of #5 is to complete an “Alphabet Tour”. Take a tour around a part of Cincinnati and have the kids document what they find in the order of the alphabet. For example: A is for Ashland Ave. B is for building. C is for Car. D is for Dog being walked…you get the idea. It can be more specific for older kids.
6. Take a field trip to the historic canal town of Metamora. My mom and dad used to take me to Metamora, Indiana all the time as a child. It was free and I really enjoyed going there.
7. Get creative with water. Aside from everyday sprinkler or pool playtime, think about other ways in which your kids can play with water. I read one idea somewhere that you could put food coloring in water guns then stretch paper across a fence, and let the kids really “water paint”…how fun!
8. Build a fort. Gather sticks, broken branches, and other found items to create a mini-house or fort. This could be a week long project, including the time spent playing in the newly created outdoor area.
9. Create and go on a fun scavenger hunt.
10. Cook! Let the kids plan the meal and be a part of the shopping to purchase the ingredients. They can also set the table, etc.
11. Create sock puppets and put on a puppet show.
12. Plan a camping trip in your backyard.
13. Recycle old magazines by creating mosaic pieces of art. Cut up colorful pieces of old magazines. Using Mod Podge and a paintbrush, you can adhere and seal the pieces onto a wood piece, an old canvas or even an old piece of furniture.
14. Make a bird feeder with pine cones. Spread peanut butter on the pine cones then dip them in bird seed. Attach a string or piece of yarn and hang. (I still remember this project from Girl Scouts because I liked it that much!)
15. Check out the newspaper or Craigslist for free local activities for children.
16. Make your own checkerboards and checkers and teach the kids how to play. This is more for the older kids.
17. Have your kids write their own poems or life stories on regular paper. Then you can make a book out of it using decorated cardboard as the cover.
18. Build sandcastles. Challenge the kids to build a particular type of castle. I always enjoyed digging out a moat around my sandcastles.
19. Have a “switch your kids” day! Send your kids to a friend’s house and then you get their kids. I heard kids love this and picking a few items from this list will complete your day.
20. Play “travel around the world” with food. Have English tea and scones for breakfast, Italian for lunch and Chinese or Thai food for dinner. I know this isn’t free, but the idea of “pretending” to be in different places doesn’t cost anything.
21. Have your children volunteer. Not only will they gain new skills but will be helping out the community. I believe the SPCA enjoy having older kids help care for the animals. Another option would be to have your child visit a nursing home and visit the elderly.
22. Make it a summer tradition to host several game nights. It could be once a month or once a week, but bring the family together by playing games, letting the kids choose what they’d like to play.
23. Tour a fire station.
24. Go stargazing one evening.
25. Make crafts out of cardboard boxes. I put together a blog post here about fun activities you can do with cardboard.
Remember, it isn’t so much about what you do as it is finding things to do together. Creating some excitement for the kids will leave lasting memories. I mean, a lot of the things written on this list are activities I enjoyed as a child … which are lasting memories.