Last year I wrote about summer freebies that were designed to keep your children entertained without breaking the bank. And while many of those activities are available again this year, I thought it wise to consider 7 new free summer activities for kids, to spice things up a bit. Below are some ideas that I had – if you have others, I’d be happy to hear them!
- Scavenger hunt – Look at a map of your neighborhood or a nearby area, and consider what interesting things you can find with your children. Make a list, then set out by car or foot to find them. Depending on the ages of your children, you can include landmarks, interesting people, animals or signage. Assign point values to each item depending on how hard it is to find, and designate a winner based on whichever child finds the most items on the list first.
- Volunteer – This activity may not be appropriate for children under age 5, but most children can appreciate the beauty (and excitement) of volunteering from a relatively young age. Choose one organization to volunteer with and commit to going one day or afternoon each week during the summer, or create a list of interesting places to volunteer, and head to a new one each week. Some kid-friendly options include soup kitchens, public parks that can benefit from little collection, or organizing a bake sale to benefit their favorite charity (or yours).
- Write and record a short skit – Most children love to be creative, and to have your undivided attention. Why not let them create a short play and have you record it to send to the grandparents (or other loved ones)? This is an excellent free summer activity because it encourages your children’s creativity and creates memories that they can take with them. Don’t be afraid to let the preparations and ‘rehearsals’ take more than one day. Let your kids plan it out over the course of days or weeks. Who knows how long it can keep them busy?
- Go for a hike – There are many beautiful state parks that offer free admission and easy hiking trails. Why not encourage your children to get moving while enjoying all the beauty that your state has to offer?
- Host a sleepover – Warning: there’s a high likelihood that letting your child host a sleepover will cause extreme fatigue and possibly crankiness the day afterwards. However, if you plan to have a relaxed day after the sleepover, your child likely won’t mind, and you can enjoy a day without serious programming. There’s also excitement before the sleepover, so you can plan a low-key day the day before as well.
- Teach your children to cook – Most parents don’t have time to teach their children how to cook during the school year because time is short and the work is long. But one of the most practical free summer activities is teaching your children how to cook. Show them how to measure fractions of liquids and solids, how to separate eggs, and of course, how to clean up. You may be surprised at how eager your children are to make dinner in the following days!
- Get wet – If you have a backyard, why not turn on the sprinkler and let the kids water your lawn – and themselves? One of my favorite activities as a kid was a “Slip n’ Slide”, a plastic strip attached to a hose that allowed you to slide across the yard without getting grass stains. Alternatively, let your children have a water-balloon fight or play some water-based relay races. There is a plethora of things to do with water on a hot summer day.