School’s out for the summer! Which means the kids are home, the grocery bill is up, and and your kids are looking for fun things to do every day.
As a parent, you’d love to put your kids in camp and take them to do fun things every day, but daily admission and camp registration fees can get pricey.
Sure, there are the usual summer activities—swimming, exploring a new park, playdates, lemonade stands—but why not think outside the box.
Here are 10 budget-friendly activities to entertain your kids with this summer:
1. Pick fruit
Find a local orchard that you can visit to pick strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and peaches this summer. There are usually free activities going on all summer long at these orchards for kids, too. At the end of the day, you’ll get a fresh basket of fruit and a day full of fun for the same price as your grocery store fruit bill.
2. Plan a backyard camping night
Choose a cool night, set up the tent and roast marshmallows in the backyard. There’s no campsite fee or crowds around as an added bonus to this activity. All you need is a tent, sleeping bags and bug spray and the kids are bound to have a night of fun.
3. Bake a cake
This seems so simple, but when was the last time you baked a cake (or cookies, brownies, etc.) with your kids helping from start to finish? Let’s face it, during the school year you’re busy rushing kids to and from soccer, prepping and eating meals on the go and being a busy PTA mom or dad. Occasionally the kids help dump in the sugar, flour or other ingredients for meals, but this time let them be in charge. Let them choose what to make, shop for the ingredients, bake it and enjoy it. This is a great rainy-day activity.
4. Check out your local science center
Also another great rainy day activity, science centers are fun for kids of all ages. Most offer interactive activities and learning opportunities along with a summer schedule dedicated to kids. Be sure to check out discounted annual memberships or family passes, because you’ll probably save even if you think you’ll only visit a couple times a year. Groupon is also a great place to check for discounted tickets. Here is a list of some popular science centers all across the country.
5. Plant flowers or a garden
Kids love to be outside in the dirt, so why not give them a good reason to be? If you’re late on your spring planting or gardening, let the kids be involved in choosing what color flowers to plant or what crops to grow.
6. Plan neighborhood night games
Some of my fondest childhood memories are of late summer nights playing games in the neighborhood with all the neighborhood kids. If you’ve got older kids, help them organize and plan neighborhood night games. Capture the flag, hide-and-go-seek and even tag can be fun spread out between a few backyards, with all the kids on the street around dusk or even after the sun sets (and the temperature cools off, too).
7. Build something
Build a racetrack, a fort, or whatever your kids are interested in. Check out your local Home Depot stores for Saturday morning organized kids workshops that are free. These hands-on workshops help tackle educational and developmental skills and you can paint, color, build and create with your children and take home the project, too! Kids receive a certificate of achievement, workshop apron, snacks and building kit (while supplies last).
8. See a movie for $1
Regal Theaters is doing a Summer Movie Express series full of kid-friendly flicks for only $1 per person at local Regal, United Artists and Edwards movie theaters around the country. Running June through August, you can get nine weeks of $1 movies for the whole family. Most showings are at 10 am on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, so check your local listings here.
9. Bowl for free
10. Plan a neighborhood water balloon fight
Right now you can get 420 self-sealing, easy tie water balloons at Costco. That’s a whole lot of summer fun, all for $19.99. With this set, you can fill 100 balloons in less than 60 seconds. Pair this with a backyard Slip ‘N Slide, and you’ll practically have a water park in your backyard.
Feature Image: Twenty20